Summertime Bruce [R.I.P. Tim Russert]

I can’t add anything too insightful about Tim Russert that hasn’t already been said or written over the last 24 hours, but I wanted to give my 2 cents. I’ve always been an NBC guy. One of my earliest memories is watching Tom Brokaw on the Today Show when I lived in Spain in the mid-70’s. I was amazed that his eyes would follow me regardless of where I stood in the room. From that point forward, when I need a TV news fix, it’s always been NBC – whether the Today Show, the Nightly News, MSNBC, or Meet the Press. I’ve grown up with the gang – especially Brokaw.

Since Russert took over Meet the Press in 1991, and through every election year, I’ve admired his passion, his tenacity, his preparation, and his bulldog mentality in his Meet the Press chair. In an industry of egos & blowhards, Tim Russert was one of the good guys – and like a lot of ’em, he was snatched from us way too early.

Russert was also a huge Springsteen fan.

Last night, I watched Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams talk about Russert’s and Williams’ mutual love of Springsteen’s music. In the early days, Russert actually booked Springsteen and the band for a February 1975 show in the gymnasium at John Carroll University in Cleveland.

I don’t have that show, but I do have this excellent 1978 show from the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. Bruce kicks off the show with “Summertime Blues”, which is what we’re all feeling right about now with Tim’s shocking passing.

“Summertime Blues”

Rest in peace, Tim. You will be missed.

Summertime Bruce
The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio
August 9th, 1978

Summertime Blues
Spirit in the Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Promised Land
Prove It All Night
Racing in the Streets
Thunder Road
Paradise by the ‘C’
Sherry Darling
Not Fade Away
Gloria / She’s the One
Growin’ Up
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Born to Run
Because the Night
Raise Your Hand
Twist and Shout
Bonus: (from the Palladium, NYC – 9/17/78)
Kitty’s Back
Point Blank


  • Julie

    Really nice tribute. Whenever Russert would appear on Morning Joe, he would always be intro-ed and outro-ed to Springsteen. I noticed they used all Springsteen in the MSNBC morning show yesterday.
    Sundays will not be the same for me. RIP Tim.

  • Skittles

    I’m so very sad about Russert’s passing. Watching the coverage of his death over the weekend made me cry more than I ever remember doing over the death of a public figure. He was someone I always wanted to meet and thank for helping to grow my passion for politics. Watching Meet the Press this morning is going to be heartbreaking.

    When I saw Williams and Brokaw talking about Russert’s love for Springsteen, I just had to smile.

  • PaulW

    Bruce paid tribute to Russert at the show in Cardiff last night, dedicating ‘Thunder Road’ to his memory and to his family.

    Russert isn’t a well-known figure over here in England, but Bruce told us enough for us a bit about him for us to understand what a loss he is.

  • Anne

    Several years ago, a friend asked each of us to name a famous person that we were attracted to that was not the “normal” sex symbol type. I named Tim Russert and believe me, they thought that was too funny. I was quite serious though because I loved watching his program, in interviews and I will always think of him in connection to the 2000 election. It probably doesn’t hurt that I am originally from Buffalo, NY and a Catholic too. I cannot believe that we are entering into a historic election this year and I will have to endure it without his insight.

  • Richard

    Just to get things a little clearer. Tim Russert participated in allowing, by not challenging and justifying, the government abuses that Springsteen’s Magic is decrying.
    I’m sure Bruce knows this, but respects Russert’s personal qualities and devotion to him as a fan. But Russert’s Meet The Press and all his political coverage tilted very much to the right, and he became rich and powerful by serving the interests of GE/NBC. He had good qualities as a journalist (real interest in politics, enthusiasm) but he was part of the Magic = Tricks Bruce tells us not to believe.
    As sincere as his affection for Buffalo and average people may have been, when, as an example, he used slanted, false, neocon talking points to attack social security repeatedly, he didn’t recognize that he was fighting against the working people Springsteen has spoken for (despite his own wealth). Russert’ MTP had 2 conservative/Republican guests for every progresssive. Debate questions for Democrats attacked their integrity while he often softballed questions to Republicans, e.g. Cheney right before the war. He and Brian Williams don’t take Springsteen seriously, just nostaligacly, I’m afraid. And if Bruce would have ever appeared on Russert’s show, I’m sure Bruce would have told him this.

  • Anne

    Richard, I am stunned at our differences of opinion on this one. The wonderful thing about Tim Russert is that he challenged both sides equally–both Democrats and Republicans. His own background was as a democrat–he worked for Moynihan for many years. As someone who does not see themselves as democrat or republican, he was the only one on the news that I could stand listening to for any length of time.

  • Pete

    Yeah, Richard, I won’t purport to know what Russert’s political views were, but Russert and “neocon talking points” certainly do not belong in the same sentence. In my view, he was as tough on the GOP as he was on the Dems – one of the most objective newsmen I’d ever seen.

    As far as the media’s role in the run-up to the war in Iraq, the entire fourth estate is to blame in its failure to question the administration’s spin & propaganda … (as many Americans are to blame for re-electing this putz – anyhow)…

  • ger

    While I agree with the essence of what Richard wrote (although I wouldn’t use a word like neocon – it’s lost so much of its meaning from over-use and mis-use), I think Owen’s comment is spot on – it’s way to soon to speak ill of the dead.

  • Cherise

    Beautifully stated, Owen! Tim Russert appears to have been a man of honor, dignity, passion, and fairness. Attributes not many people can claim.

  • Richard

    I forgot to thank Pete for the Agora show. It’s close to my heart as a Clevelander. And now I can replace my sister’s cassette of it that I broke long ago.
    Living in Cleveland, I’ve got John Carroll U. graduates among my friends and family who are very proud of Russert, so I don’t criticize him lightly. And clearly he was a great guy. Bruce’s statement shows how much he liked him personally, and I expect I would have too. But all of us make mistakes. He was one of the best journalists in the MSM, but the MSM doesn’t understand how truly terrible they are as journalists, and that they are deeply responsible for what’s happened to this country. Tim deserved the personal praise, but they’re hiding their incompetence with the professional praise.
    To back up my 2 main points:
    1. Massive imbalance for the right in Russert’s guests: see the Media study that demonstrates the 2 to 1 tilt against progressives for many years, no matter who is president or controls congress. This sets the “center” of the debate off-center. Many progressives never get invited on to these shows. And topics discussed and avoided result from the guests on the shows.
    2. Read the transcripts of the 2 debates hosted by Russert and Brian Williams on MSNBC this year. The level of accusation that frames the questions to democrats, especially Clinton, comes straight from Republican party talking points. You find nothing nearly as accusatory, challenging with the republican candidates. I think his questioning on the show shows a similar difference in intensity, especially in charges of hypocrisy and lying against democrats. See Daily for brilliant, fair, evenhanded, passionate, constructive media criticism along these lines. And Russert was friendly with the guy behind this website who skewers him to make journalism better.

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