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Bruce Springsteen Surprises South American Audiences With Classic, Political Songs

Bruce Springsteen Chile - H 2013
Getty Images
Bruce Springsteen performing in Chile

The Boss played for crowds in Chile, Argentina and Brazil on his Wrecking Ball Tour.

BUENOS AIRES – The South American portion of his Wrecking Ball Tour has Bruce Springsteen winning over the crowds in Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Twenty-five years after his last show in the region -- with Amnesty International’s Human Rights Now! Tour -- The Boss added classic (and political) songs to his playlist, which surprised audiences at a series of hugely anticipated shows that kicked off last week.

Last Thursday, on the first of his four shows in the region, Springsteen opened the encore portion with "Manifesto," a classic by Chilean political songwriter Victor Jara, who was murdered by the Chilean dictatorship in 1973.

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"In 1988 we played for Amnesty International in Mendoza, Argentina, but Chile was in our hearts," said Springsteen to the crowd in Spanish. "We met many families of desaparecidos, who brought pictures of their loved ones. It was a moment that stayed 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," he said before playing the song to an enthralled audience.

Last weekend in Argentina, after a three-hour show, Springsteen asked the Buenos Aires audience to check his website for a rendition of Leon Gieco’s political anthem "Solo le pido a Dios (I Only Ask of God)," which he learned from Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa. At the show, Springsteen apologized for being too exhausted to play a proper rendition of the song and promised to return.

His taped performance of Gieco’s song was released on YouTube, with The Boss recalling his first visit to the country in 1988. "My memories of that time are still very much alive. We came to Argentina when the country was going through a difficult time and fighting for its future. For a foreigner, Argentina was very much alive, promising," he said. "So it's a huge inspiration for me to return here, and I want to leave this song to the people of Argentina."

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"He did an amazing cover," said Gieco. The musician told Pagina 12 newspaper he was moved to tears when he saw the video. "But what moves me the most is that he sings it as a tribute to Argentina," he added. 

Last Wednesday, in Sao Paulo, the show opened with a powerful cover of "Sociedade Alternativa," a song by Brazilian rock pioneer Raul Seixas, who died in 1989.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Wrecking Ball Tour will come to an end tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, at massive music fest Rock in Rio.