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Craig Werner
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Craig Werner teaches in the Departments of Afro-American Studies and English and the Integrated Liberal Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has won teaching awards at the department, campus and national levels and is the author of A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America.

Blog Entries by Craig Werner

Don't Believe the Hype: Springsteen's Politics

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2012 | 6:30 PM

Written by Wilson Towne

Call Bruce Springsteen whatever you want, but make sure to call him a professional. Early in our class we had a conversation on whether or not he was as erudite as we were making him out to be. There were plausible arguments on either side. In...

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Growin' Up in the Age of Bad Deals

(0) Comments | Posted May 24, 2012 | 11:05 AM

Written by Wilson Towne

Everyone wants to belong, and Springsteen knows that. Even though people can surround someone, at the end of the day you're alone. "Growin' Up," exemplifies this isolation, as Springsteen had to grow up in the early part of the Cold War, and had to...

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Modern Happiness: Springsteen and the American Dream

(0) Comments | Posted May 24, 2012 | 10:53 AM

Written by Spencer Jarrold

I read, recently, in a psychology class that I'm taking, about the idea of primary and secondary motivators: the idea is that there are a few inherent forces that motivate action (i.e. sex, hunger) and secondary motivators that make those primary goals more accessible (ideas like...

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The Rising and the Children of 9/11

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2012 | 3:28 PM

Written by Brian Moran

For us 9/11 kids, there's something that sticks out about The Rising as an album from the first note of "Lonesome Day."

They say that the political events of your childhood/adolescent days define your political views for the rest of your life. And as 3rd...

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Reflections on Tragedy, Mourning and The Rising

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2012 | 1:19 PM

Written by Gina Conti

I've become a product of the classes I've taken over the past year at Madison. I guess that's the point of a good education; it really is an out-of-the-classroom thing. A year ago today, I probably wouldn't have foreseen my class schedule as one that included...

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Celebrity, Authority and The Ghost of Tom Joad

(0) Comments | Posted May 17, 2012 | 10:09 AM

Written by Spencer Jarrold

Our discussion in class about the influence of both the media and particular people in the media on people in terms of voting really had me thinking about a whole realm of things.

The Ghost of Tom Joad is quite obviously a starkly political album, akin...

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The Magic of the Record Player

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2012 | 11:52 AM

Written by Gina Conti

Most kids my age were in Panama City Beach getting sunburned. I was on my way home from Madison. I was burned out.

It was that time of the year, the third quarter slump. Everyone reaches that point, right? Everyone in the Midwest at...

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An Open Letter to Bruce Springsteen

(1) Comments | Posted May 9, 2012 | 11:27 AM

Written by Niccola Somers

Dear Mr. Springsteen,

I have to admit that in the beginning I was Blinded By The Light. I thought that you walked around the Backstreets proclaiming I'm A Rocker and we were all suddenly supposed to have a Crush On You. Thanks to my mom...

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Springsteen, Eminem and "The Huxtable Effect"

(16) Comments | Posted May 8, 2012 | 9:23 AM

In his fast-paced, funny and sometimes frustratingly glib book Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now -- Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything, David Sirota introduces "The Huxtable Effect," named for the affluent African-American family at the center of The Bill Cosby Show....

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The Rising: Responding to Tragedy

(1) Comments | Posted May 7, 2012 | 3:31 PM

Written by Michelle Croak

"Springsteen asks those of us who love his work nothing more and nothing less than he asks of himself. 'What are you going to do about it?'" -Dave Marsh

Tragedies are all around us. Some are large, while some are small: the death of a family...

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Where's Tom Joad Anyway?

(3) Comments | Posted April 25, 2012 | 12:15 PM

Written by Brian Moran

One minute he's in the eyes of a "hungry newborn baby" crying, the next minute he's there "when there's a cop's beatin' a guy", and after that he's caught up in "a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air." Tom Joad, how do you...

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American Skin, Thundercrack, Land of Hope and Dreams

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2012 | 5:11 PM

Written by Michelle Croak

"But Springsteen's biggest concert risk was playing unrecorded material; most recording artists had long since ceased performing anything but recorded material..." -Dave Marsh, from Two Hearts, The Definitive Biography of Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce has so many quality songs that, throughout his career, he's left some...

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Springsteen Live: A First-Timer's Response

(4) Comments | Posted April 24, 2012 | 10:40 AM

Written by Stacy Heder

Bruce Springsteen's live performance of "Born to Run" was enough to make the nearly ten hour drive my friend Niccola and I made from Madison to the Palace of Auburn Hills completely worth it. When the song came on, the arena erupted. All of the lights...

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Almost Famous: Uncoolness and the Spirit of Rock and Roll

(0) Comments | Posted April 11, 2012 | 4:04 PM

Written by Niccola Somers

Earlier in the semester, a musician named Stewart Francke visited our class to discuss his music and his connection with Bruce Springsteen, who sings on Francke's song "Summer Soldier (Holler If You Hear Me)." I'm not a musician, so whenever I get to talk to one...

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Back to the Future: Springsteen's "Glory Days"

(3) Comments | Posted March 30, 2012 | 11:03 AM

Written by Michelle Croak

"Remember when...?" "Yeah, those were the best days!" It's not a new theme that people fall in love with the past. In the book we're reading in class, Back to the Future -- How the 1980's Explain the World We Live in Now, David Sirota was...

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Brothers Under the Bridge: Springsteen and Vietnam

(3) Comments | Posted March 29, 2012 | 4:45 PM

Vietnam veterans keep me sane.

I know that runs counter to about a dozen interlocking pieces of America's cultural memory, but I'm betting Bruce Springsteen would understand what I mean.

To say Bruce and I live in different worlds is to put it very mildly. No one's likely to confuse...

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Lost in the 1980s: Springsteen's Tunnel of Love

(2) Comments | Posted March 27, 2012 | 12:38 PM

Written by Stacy Heder

Anyone who has seen a rerun of the late 80's classic Saved By The Bell knows that some media doesn't transfer well decades later. It's hard not to laugh when Kelly Kapowski enters school with hair to the sky or Slater comes along in MC Hammer...

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Springsteen, Glenn Beck and Tom Joad

(27) Comments | Posted March 23, 2012 | 9:39 AM

Written by Wilson Towne

Unlike some of my peers, I never really listened to Springsteen before taking Craig Werner's class at UW Madison -- "Bruce Springsteen's America." My parents were fans of the Boss, but he and the E-Street crew took a back seat to David Bowie, U2, The Clash,...

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Springsteen's Nebraska and the American Dream

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2012 | 9:25 AM

Written by Spencer Jarrold

I've been hearing Bruce Springsteen's music since my childhood. It wasn't until recently that I investigated the complexity of his work and the consequent effect that attempting to understand how his ideas have had an impact on my own views, without my recognizing it. My first...

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Bruce, Language, Freedom

(0) Comments | Posted March 22, 2012 | 10:38 AM

Written by Brian Moran

In his introduction, Craig wrote about how most of us hardly knew any Springsteen other than "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA" before taking this class. And I have to admit that I was no different. For whatever reason, my musical escapades...

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