“And when you walk onstage tonight to bring the noise, treat it like it’s all we have. And then remember it’s only rock ‘n’ roll.”—Bruce Springsteen, SXSW keynote address
Lots of things are going well for Bruce Springsteen these days. Not only did his new release Wrecking Ball recently topple Adele from her long-standing run atop the Billboard Top 200, but The Boss’s presence literally dominated this year’s SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.
As the keynote speaker for SXSW 2012, Springsteen offered an inspiring, humor-filled address that blended a rock history lesson with highlights from Springsteen’s own story, sprinkled with a few musical illustrations with an acoustic guitar. Preceding that blessed event (video below), Springsteen launched his SXSW spree with a surprise appearance at the Austin Music Awards the night before, adding lead guitar to Alejandro Escovedo’s set as the night closed. He then followed up his noontime keynote speech with a star-studded, 3-hour concert at Moody Theatre later that evening, featuring guest appearances by a “who’s who” of rock & roll that included Eric Burdon of The Animals, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Jimmy Cliff and others.
In a recent review of Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball on this very blog, my colleague Tim Ferrar talked about Bruce Springsteen as an “elder statesman” of sorts for the rock & roll generation. In his SXSW appearance, The Boss seemed to carry that mantle effortlessly as he encouraged and schooled the next generation of musicians in his keynote speech.
If you have about 50 minutes to spare, I’ve embedded a video of Springsteen’s keynote speech below, which I think is a significant moment in rock & roll history. A couple of cautions about it: first—if the video is still active when you see this blog post, I’d advise not waiting to watch it, as some users on the Internet have already removed it, and there’s no telling how long it will last as a free Internet viral video. Second—you’ll have to bear with the first five minutes, as the guy making the introductions had to stall for a few minutes while Springsteen made his way to the stage. Enjoy!
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