Christie and the Boss: Singing different tunes?

Bruce Springsteen performing in Boston on Monday during his "Wrecking Ball" tour. ELISE AMENDOLA / Associated Press
Bruce Springsteen performing in Boston on Monday during his "Wrecking Ball" tour. ELISE AMENDOLA / Associated Press (Bruce Springsteen)
Posted: March 28, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY - When New Jersey's most powerful Bruce Springsteen fan sees the Boss perform for a 127th time Thursday, he'll rock out to what sounds like a poetic rebuke of much of what he believes in.

Because while Gov. Christie has been on the "New Jersey Comeback" tour, telling audiences locally and nationally that his fiscal conservatism is bringing good times to the Garden State, Springsteen is on the road with a very different message.

Springsteen's overtly political new album, Wrecking Ball, is a bleak narrative about how institutions, both governmental and financial, have failed Americans, leaving workers without jobs and the helpless without hope.

On "Jack of All Trades" he sings:

The banker man grows fat, the working man grows thin

It's all happened before and it'll happen again

And on "Shackled and Drawn," he returns to his theme of the entitled wagering other people's money:

Gambling man rolls the dice, working man pays the bill

It's still fat and easy up on banker's hill

The album's topical focus and recurring gambling metaphor made this betting mecca a fitting place to ask the governor for a music review Tuesday afternoon at a news conference to celebrate the city's grandest casino yet.

Christie, a Republican, has wagered his own political capital and $261 million in state tax credits in hope that the new $2.4 billion Revel casino will hasten Atlantic City's revival and the state's economic recovery. The casino will have its soft opening Monday.

Revel employees were hustled outside to greet the gubernatorial SUV for a photo op. Excited and, in some cases, shivering, they shook Christie's hand. First the hard-hatted construction workers, then the blackjack dealers and housekeepers. And finally, inside, the executives.

Springsteen may sing about working stiffs, but at Atlantic City's first nonunion casino, Christie was sending a message that they're his people, too.

Jaide Covington, 20, of Sicklerville, was desperate for work when she landed an interview at Revel for a $9-an-hour housekeeping position. Management saw something in her, though, she said, and she was brought on as an office assistant for $11 an hour, plus benefits and overtime - more than she ever anticipated.

Revel "gave 3,000 people an opportunity to have a job," Covington said. Make that 5,500 permanent positions plus thousands more construction jobs, the governor's office said later.

Christie took a short tour of the 1,898-guest-room resort and walked through glass doors to its curved oceanfront patio. The sight of the Atlantic and the Boardwalk, which Springsteen has helped to mythologize, was the best view on the East Coast, he declared.

Christie dismissed news out of Trenton that the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services had earlier in the day called his projected Revel tax revenue unrealistic. His proposed budget - which would cut income taxes 10 percent for all wage earners - relies on the optimistic revenue numbers.

The very public Boss fan said that he would be heading to the Wells Fargo Center for the second of two sold-out shows, and he fielded a question about the pessimism of Wrecking Ball, which derides "robber barons" and bankers. Bankers are behind the Revel deal, from J.P. Morgan, which financed part of the project, to original backer Morgan Stanley, which pulled out when the recession hit.

Yet what Revel stands for is "the exact opposite of robber barons," Christie said.

Springsteen, a resident of Monmouth County who stumped for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, wrote Wrecking Ball a while ago and "has yet to have been caught up in the 'Jersey Comeback,' " Christie said. "Probably if you saw the songs Bruce is writing currently . . . I'm sure he has really been infected by the 'Jersey Comeback.' "

Christie said he wouldn't critique Wrecking Ball until he had heard its songs live, to get "a window into how [Springsteen] really feels about the music and what message he is trying to convey."

Besides, he said, he's still a loyal fan even though he doesn't always agree with him. He recalled, back when he was U.S. attorney, hearing Springsteen introduce one song with a statement about the federal government taking away rights.

"My friends used to make fun of me, standing at the concerts going, 'That's you, that's you!' " he said Tuesday. "I don't take that stuff personally. Bruce and I obviously have different points of view on certain areas of politics."

Last year Springsteen even penned a letter to the Asbury Park Press decrying state budget cuts for New Jersey social programs, though he did not mention Christie.

"I think Bruce, if he's true to his lyrics, would love that the state used taxpayer funds to invest in [Revel] and create jobs for working-class men and women," Christie said. "As I understand his music, he's all for those folks, and so am I."

Christie then made a "direct plea to Bruce, right now" to play the Revel on Labor Day weekend.

It "would be an incredible show of support by Bruce for his home state . . . for those working men and women who have been put back to work."

Springsteen will be touring in Europe through July and has not announced dates for later in the summer. A spokeswoman for the performer did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Christie will soon be back at the Revel, on Memorial Day weekend with his wife, Mary Pat, hoping to usher in a new era for Atlantic City.

Springsteen has sung that song, too, about a guy taking his girl to A.C., and the potential rebirth of something left for dead.

The song is called "Atlantic City": 

Well maybe everything that dies some day comes back

Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty

Come on and meet me tonight in Atlantic City


To see Gov. Christie discuss his bond with Bruce Springsteen and invite him to play Revel, go to www.philly.com/invite


Contact Matt Katz at 609-217-8355 or mkatz@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @mattkatz00. Read his blog, "Christie Chronicles," at www.philly.com/christiechronicles.

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