Musicians

by Bruce Springsteen

Musicians are the people who’ve taken care of us. With their voices and with their songs. With their blood, their sweat and tears. And with their lovely and great artistry. 

The people whose music has inspired us and soothed our broken hearts, angered us; whose music we’ve gotten married to, divorced to; music that has been with us on our blackest days, stood by us in war, and in peace; made us laugh, made us be strong, helped us not be stupid, informed us, and loved us.

Music: Do you believe in magic? There is no faith required. None whatsoever. Because it’s all right here in front of you. I’ve seen it. I’ve been a part of the miracle of music. I’ve seen people tired, depressed and weary, worn out - so low. I’ve seen them revived and rise from their seats - and dance.

The Taliban will never win. Not now or not ever. Not here, not in Timbuktu, by banning music and dancing. The minute you do that you label yourself a tyrant. And your cruel days are numbered. The minute Timbuktu was liberated, what did people do? They played music and they danced.

I was so happy to read that in the paper. I was happy for them, and happy for us. Vive La France! 

You can’t triumph without music, because music is life. Music is the birds singing and the wheat rustling in the fields; the strumming of the wind through the leaves of that tree that was in the back yard of your childhood home; the earth and the stars rolling through the heavens at night. 

Before a man or a woman, heard their name, they heard music. They heard the wind rushing past their ear drums. They heard the grasses humming with insects. They heard the birds knocking, and rocking in the trees. 

We musicians are bad with our money. We spend it too freely, and on too many stupid things. We drink it away, we do drugs. We love too many people, and too many of the wrong people. We ARE the wrong people. We f**k up many peoples’ lives - many peoples’ lives - while setting fire to our own, dancing down the street. 

We are a brother and sisterhood of magical f**k-ups, and we need you. Because once in awhile we get it right, and we sing about it. And we sing about it. And…  we are musicians. 

Musicians are always in search - born searchers. Born to get lost. Born to get lost, because that’s ninety-eight percent of it, and then suddenly… suddenly, you’re home. 

Musicians are people who are always in search of the power to sustain the best of ourselves, and to seek out the best in you. We want to be great. Like Neil Young says in his book, “Be great or be gone.” We want to be great. We want to be important in your life.

That was all that mattered to me. I didn’t care if I was gonna make it rich or famous. But I wanted to be great, more than anything else. I wanted to be important in your life. Because you keep us in search of the force that reignites our gifts. Our ability to make you want to move, to dance, to love - to make love - to be angry. To act. 

When we play, we want the hair to stand up on your arms. We want you to feel the glory, and we want you to be glad of being alive. And really, at the end of the day that’s all there is to it. 

Now gimme that damn guitar. 

- Excerpted from Bruce’s speech from the MusiCares Person of the Year ceremony, February 8, 2013, in Los Angeles, CA.

12.16.14

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