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Torn by the USA: How America’s divisions are marked in its music

The music critic Hanif Abdurraqib loves Bruce Springsteen—but is troubled by his singular vision

By Aida Amoako  
The Boss in concert in Canada, 2017

The Boss in concert in Toronto, Canada, 2017

In the second essay in Hanif Abdurraqib’s debut essay collection They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, the American poet and critic presents contrasting visions of his country.

Seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert in New Jersey, Abdurraqib envisions an optimistic America where labour is romanticised and red, white and blue promises hang in the air. A day before the concert, Abdurraqib was in Ferguson, Missouri standing in front of the memorial to Michael Brown, the…

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