Just finished the latest Springsteen book in my rapidly growing collection and it’s one that every fan should give a read.
Erik Kirschbaum’s Rocking The Wall has great insights and recollections into the concert in East Germany 16 months before the collapse of the Berlin wall in 1989 and explores the impact Springsteen had on the fall of Communism in the region.
It’s not a long read and doesn’t rerun the life of an icon like the many Bruce biographies flooding the bookshelves at the moment, but it is a well-researched and presented chapter in the influence Springsteen has had in people’s lives.
Well timed with the release of Springsteen & I documentary (not out here for another week) Kirschbaum talks to people who were among the 300,000 fans in East Berlin and looks at the rising desire for change in the country’s youth.
For someone who was seven-years-old when the Wall was torn down it’s an interesting history lesson but what I really got out of it was the incredible lengths people went to get in to see the show, and how eager Springsteen was to perform there.
It also makes me think of last year’s Hyde Park concert where Springsteen was cut off during the band’s final moments.
In 1988 a concert in a country dominated by rules and regulations was supposed to entertain a maximum of 160,000 people. But when nearly double that amount turned up, the ticket booth was smashed and fences were torn down and the usually strict authorities let the overcrowded, totally unsafe show go ahead regardless.
The book details how the concert went ahead because the country’s rulers thought it might entertain the youth of the nation, and keep order. Instead it did the very thing they were trying to avoid - hundreds of thousands of empowered young people motivated for change.
In comparison to the Hyde Park concert 24 years later, just after Springsteen was joined on stage by English music legend Sir Paul McCartney, the power was cut on a concert of 50-80,000 people because he was running a few minutes over.
The result was tens of thousands of people spilling across the London streets trying to make it out of a city centre park with no clue what was happening and little directions on how to get out without disrupting nearby residents and businesses.
The very thing those who pulled the power were trying to avoid.
Two different situations but with similar lessons…
(Never underestimate Springsteen or his fans).