Donald Trump is so wildly unpopular with the entertainment community that even a Bruce Springsteen tribute band pulled out of playing at one of his inaugural events, forcing him to settle for Lee Greenwood, 3 Doors Down, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Toby Keith and whatever handful of Rockettes could stomach taking the gig. Eight years ago, Barack Obama faced a very different situation. Two days before he was sworn in, about 400,000 people filled the National Mall for We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration that featured Beyoncé, U2, Usher, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Jon Bon Jovi, Pete Seeger and the real Bruce Springsteen.
After opening remarks and renditions of “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Bruce took the stage to perform “The Rising” with the Joyce Garrett Singers, an enormous gospel choir. The song was inspired by the firefighters that gave their lives on 9/11, many of whom rose up the stairs desperately trying to put out the fire before the buildings collapsed. At the We Are One concert, it was both a reminder of the dark days in our past and a hopeful message that we’d rise as a nation with Barack Obama at the helm. He came back out near the end to perform “This Land Is Your Land” with Pete Seeger.
Nearly eight years later to the day, Bruce Springsteen returned to Washington DC to play a private show for Obama and the White House staff as they prepared to depart and make way for the Donald Trump administration. He was the obvious choice since he worked so hard to get Obama elected in 2008 and then re-elected in 2012, playing many large rallies in the final days of both campaigns. During the Obama years, Springsteen received both the Kennedy Center Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Whatever Donald Trump has planned for the next four years, don’t expect Bruce Springsteen to play any role in it.