Bruce Springsteen, the quintessential American singer-songwriter, is as popular overseas as he is at home. Maybe more so, judging by his tour schedule: On 2013, he hasn’t played any full U.S. concerts, and has instead taken the E Street Band to Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and he’s currently in South America, where he’s paying tribute to the artists from that continent via a couple of covers, sung in Spanish.

On September 12, he kicked off his South American tour in Santiago, Chile.  It was his first concert in the continent in 25 years, since the 1988 Amnesty International Human Rights Now! tour, and just as those shows were politically charged, so was this one. Springsteen covered Victor Jara’s “Manifesto” at that concert. Jara was a folk singer who was so threatening to the military leaders who staged a 1973 coup that they murdered him later that year.  Bruce’s introduction (translated courtesy Springsteen fan site Backstreets): “In 1988 we played for Amnesty International in Mendoza, Argentina, but Chile was in our hearts. We met many families of Desaparecidos, which had pictures of their loved ones. It was a moment that stays with me forever. A political musician, Victor Jara, remains a great inspiration. It’s a gift to be here and I take it with humbleness.”

A few days later, on September 14, he returned to Argentina, to perform in Buenos Aires. He’d planned to cover ”Solo le pido a Dios” (“I Only Ask of God”), a song by the Argentine folk-rocker León Gieco that Springsteen learned from the late folk singer Mercedes Sosa, but didn’t get to it. The following day he posted a note to his official website saying, “There is a song I planned to sing at our Buenos Aires concert that I learned from the wonderful Argentine singer, Mercedes Sosa. I wasn’t quite prepared that evening so I’m glad to send this out now to all of our friends and fans in Argentina.”

His intro in this video, translated: “In 1988 I came to Buenos Aires on the Amnesty International Tour. My memories of that time are very much alive. We came to Argentina when the country was going through a hard time and was struggling for a future. For a foreigner, Argentina was alive and promising, so it’s a big inspiration for me to be back. I want to dedicate this song to the people of Argentina.”

Springsteen’s final date on this tour will be at the Rock In Rio festival in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, September 21. On November 6, he’ll perform a solo acoustic gig, as he does each year, at the Stand Up For Heroes benefit in New York.  In February, Bruce and the E Street Band return to the road for another string of dates in Australia and New Zealand.

– Brian Ives,


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