Bruce Springsteen shared a powerful tribute to George Floyd during the latest episode of his weekly radio show.
The rocker played his protest song 41 Shots (American Skin), which is about the police killing of an unarmed immigrant in 1999, to open the SiriusXM programme on Wednesday.
Springsteen noted that he selected the tune because it runs to eight minutes – about the same amount of time it took Floyd to die at the hands of a Minnesota cop, who kneeled on his neck during an arrest over counterfeit cash, on 25 May.
Describing Floyd’s death, which was caught on camera, as a “21st-century visual lynching”, he explained, “That song is almost eight minutes long. That’s how long it took George Floyd to die with a Minneapolis officer’s knee buried into his neck. That’s a long time. That’s how long he begged for help and said he couldn’t breathe. The arresting officer’s response was nothing but silence and weight. Then he had no pulse. And still, it went on.”
Springsteen also addressed the protests sparked by Floyd’s death, adding, “As of today, our black citizens continue to be killed unnecessarily by our police on the streets of America. As of this broadcast, the country is on fire and in chaos.”
And the Born in the U.S.A. hitmaker confessed he doesn’t see an end to racism in America in sight, playing Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit and calling it “one of the darkest songs in the American canon”.
“Strange Fruit was written about the lynchings about black Americans after the Reconstruction and into the 20th century (sic),” the 70-year-old commented. “We remain haunted, generation after generation, by our original sin of slavery. It remains the great unresolved issue of American society. The weight of its baggage gets heavier with each passing generation. As of this violent, chaotic week on the streets of America, there is no end in sight.”
Closing his show, Springsteen was clearly concerned about the state of his country and told listeners to “stay safe, stay well, stay strong”.
“Until we meet again, stay involved. And go in peace,” he concluded.