Certain songs have a way of coming back right when they’re needed again. When Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers first put out “That’s What Makes Us Great” — a duet with Grushecky’s longtime champion Bruce Springsteen — in 2018, the fist-in the-air anthem didn’t resonate the way it does now. Grushecky knows it too, so he’s rereleasing the inspiring collaboration and the album on which it appears, More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows, via Cleveland International Records ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“That’s What Makes Us Great” is a call for unity, with the Pittsburgh rock & roll lifer making the case that the U.S. has always been great — no “again” needed. He sings of welcome immigrants, endless opportunity, and love conquering hate, before Springsteen steps in with a blistering indictment: “Don’t tell me a lie and sell it as a fact.” Arriving the day after the first presidential debate plumbed the depths of absurdity, the lyric lands like a cold, hard slap.
But while the song takes a defiant stand, its chiming guitars and marching drums underscore a hopeful tone. Change is coming, and it’ll be for the better. “Is there a difference I can make?” Grushecky asks, with Springsteen reinforcing our civic responsibility: “It’s up to me and you,” he commands.
“We need unity, compassion, and respect for all of our countrymen,” Grushecky has said. To many, that’s simple stuff, but sometimes you need two blue-collar heroes to drive it home.
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.