Bruce Springsteen took some hits on social media during Tuesday’s Concert for Valor in Washington, D.C., for singing John Fogerty’s Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Fortunate Son.” Some viewers argued that the song was an inappropriate choice for the event honoring the nation’s military veterans.
Now Fogerty, a military veteran himself, has issued a statement defending the song’s message. He wrote it as an indictment of the disparity between those who were drafted into service during the Vietnam War and those who were able to avoid the draft because they were financially well-off or politically connected.
“ ‘Fortunate Son’ is a song I wrote during the Vietnam War over forty-five years ago,” Fogerty’s statement began. “As an American and a songwriter I am proud that the song still has resonance. I do believe that its meaning gets misinterpreted and even usurped by various factions wishing to make their own case. At its core I believe the issue is really about what a great country we have that a song like this can be performed in a setting like Concert for Valor.”
In particular, Springsteen was jeered by some in the crowd when he sang the line, “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no military son.”
“Years ago, an ultra-conservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as ‘un-American,’ ” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Fogerty wrote. “That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam.
“As a man who was drafted and served his country during those times, I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve.”
While many tweeted messages of criticism about Springsteen’s performance, for which he was joined by southern rock singer Zac Brown and Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl, others supported the inclusion of the song.
“If you think ‘Fortunate Son’ was inappropriate for tonight’s concert, you’ve clearly never paid attention to the lyrics,” viewer Karen Hensley tweeted.
Actor-comedian Patton Oswalt sent a tweet that said, “Yeah, dummies, they played ‘Fortunate Son’ at the #ConcertForValor. It’s pro-soldier & anti-chickenhawk. As usual, outrage over nothing.”
Few of those who criticized Springsteen seemed to notice — or at least comment — that Springsteen’s set also included “Born in the U.S.A.,” his 1984 hit strongly critical of the nation’s attitude during the Vietnam War and the treatment of that conflict’s returning veterans. But that song’s message also was widely misinterpreted at the time as a straight-forward salute to his country.
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