It was “Born to Run” meets “New York State of Mind” — with a little bit of “Hail to the Chief” thrown in for good measure.
Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel joined forces in a concert to raise money for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Party on Thursday night. They got a little help from India.Arie, John Legend and Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa, as they tore through the rock legends’ long list of hits at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
When they launched into “Born to Run,” Springsteen said, “This is for the senator.”
As the show concluded, Obama made an appearance onstage. He called the event “a magical evening” and said he wouldn’t ruin it with a long speech. Then he delivered a speech comparing the struggling, everyday people in Joel’s and Springsteen’s songs to the people he’s met on the campaign trail.
He warned supporters not to get overconfident because he leads in the polls.
“Don’t underestimate the capacity of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Don’t underestimate our ability to screw it up,” Obama said. “I want everybody running scared.”
Obama also offered a new explanation for his decision to seek the White House.
“I was sitting offstage with (his wife) Michelle, and I ... said, ‘Honey, the reason I’m running for president is I can’t be Bruce Springsteen. I can’t be Billy Joel,”’ Obama said.
Springsteen and Joel focused more on music than politics, alternating between each other’s songs — clearly having fun.
Springsteen hugged Joel during “Spirit in the Night,” then ended up laying across the piano as he sang. Joel left the piano and picked up a guitar for “Glory Days.” They even stuck a bit of The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night” into the middle of Joel’s song “River of Dreams.”
When Springsteen suggested they slow things down a bit, Joel began banging out a playful version of “Hail to the Chief” in honor of Obama’s presidential hopes.
Nearly 2,000 people attended the “Change Rocks” concert. The cheap seats were $500, but big spenders could shell out $25,000 each.
Springsteen’s song “The Rising” has become an unofficial anthem for Obama’s campaign, often playing when Obama bounds onstage at his rallies. Inspired by 9/11 terrorist attacks, it strikes a defiant tone with lines like: “Sky of longing and emptiness/ Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life/ Come on up for the rising/ Come on up, lay your hands in mine.”
After Obama spoke, the stars closed with another song heard at his rallies, Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
Obama and his wife stayed on stage, clapping, swaying and even bumping hips at one point.