Bruce Springsteen spoke in depth about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis during his latest DJ stint on SiriusXM's E Street Radio. Springsteen played his 2000 song “American Skin (41 Shots)” — which shed light on the events and emotions surrounding the NYPD shooting death of the unarmed Amadou Diallo.
APP.com transcribed some of Springsteen's comments, in which he said after playing the track, “Eight minutes. That song is almost eight minutes long. And that's how long it took George Floyd to die with a Minneapolis officer's knee buried into his neck. That's a long time. That's how long he begged for help and said he couldn't breathe. The arresting officer's response was nothing but silence and wait. Then he had no pulse and still it went on. That goes out to Seattle, to New York, to Miami, to Atlanta, to Chicago, to Dallas, to Philadelphia, to Washington, to Los Angeles, to Asbury Park, to Minneapolis and to the memory of George Floyd. May he rest in peace.”
Springsteen went on to provide a state of the union, saying, “As we speak, 40 million people are unemployed. One-hundred-thousand plus citizens have died from COVID-19 with only the most tepid and unfeeling response from our White House. As of today, our black citizens continue to be killed unnecessarily by our police on the streets of America. And as of this broadcast, the country was on fire and in chaos.”
Springsteen played a selection from Dr. Martin Luther King's 1963 speech in Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights protests, and added: “We wake again to an America who burned our buildings, torched police cars and shattered shop windows. The cost that we're paying for another half of a century of unresolved fundamental issues of race. We have not cared for our house very well. There can be no standing peace without the justice owed to every American regardless of their race, color or creed. The events of this week have once again proven that out.”
Springsteen explained the time for change has finally come: “We need systemic changes in our law enforcement departments and in the political will of our national citizenry to once again move forward to the kind of changes that will bring the ideals of the Civil Rights movement once again to life and into this moment.”
It was 40 years ago, while touring behind The River, that Bruce Springsteen began reading in-depth about the history of the United States, tapping into a cross section of books and authors that would paint a complete picture for him about what it truly meant to be an American from the beginning until now: “I think at the time I was pouring through a variety of history books just to contextualize myself. Understand where I came from, and what that meant. I wanted to write songs of breadth — that had some breadth and depth to them. And I knew I wanted to write about the place I lived, and I wanted to write about my own history — the history of my family. And I wanted to write about social forces that I felt played through that history. So, I devoured quite a few history books at the time.”