The Vote for Change tour was a politically-motivated American popular music concert tour that took place in October 2004. All concerts were held in swing states, to benefit MoveOn.org and to encourage people to vote against George W. Bush (and implicitly, and in some performances explicitly, for John Kerry) in the 2004 Presidential election campaign. Tracy Chapman had been invited to perform at the TD Waterhouse Center, Orlando, Florida on October 8, 2004 with R.E.M., and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (with special guest John Fogerty)
TRACY CHAPMAN’S PERFORMANCE
Accompanied by Quinn (drummer) and Joe Gore (guitarist), Tracy Chapman opened with an expressive 30 minutes that showcased her deep, distinctive alto and eloquent songwriting:
Along with favorites such as “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason,” she also included a lovely rendition of the 1960s Civil Rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come.” She joined Bruce Springsteen on “My Hometown” and took the stage with all musicians for the rousing finale, “People Have the Power”.
My Hometown, Bruce Springsteen & Tracy Chapman
- Politics, music mix for Chapman – By Jim Abbot | Sentinel Pop Music Critic | OrlandoSentinel.com – Posted October 8, 2004
There’s a lot of testosterone on stage for tonight’s Vote for Change shows in Orlando and Kissimmee, which makes the presence of Tracy Chapman all the more timely.
Chapman, a late addition to the Springsteen/R.E.M. bill at TD Waterhouse, is joining the tour for just one show, but she couldn’t be more pleased that it’s in Florida. She thinks the state is crucial in the presidential election, especially after the voting controversy four years ago.
“I see the role that I’m playing in the same way I see so many other people after the election of 2000,” she says. “I felt motivated to do more than cast my own vote.
“The election was decided by such a slim margin, and there were so many voting irregularities in 2000, people coerced out of the polls, issues with the machines, people stripped from the voting rolls. Maybe if each of us does something, we can make a change.”
Chapman’s motivation has already inspired her recent “Western Swing State Tour,” a five-city trek to register voters in Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona. The shows were organized with help from Drivingvotes.org, an organization devoted to registering Democratic voters in key states.
Chapman is convinced that turnout, rather than undecided voters, will ultimately put the next president in the White House. She is encouraged by a recent New York Times story about an increase in traffic at voter registration sites.
“As a musician, I have a way to bring people together with my music,” she says.
It’s hard to define how politically motivated concerts might affect potential voters. Rock icon and Orlando resident Roger McGuinn doesn’t think music ought to be used to change someone’s vote.
“Musicians should be doing music,” he says. “I think it kind of subverts your art if you start getting political with it.”
Chapman doesn’t want to preach to anyone.
“I didn’t go out to tell people how to vote,” she says. “Most people know who they want to vote for. They’ve made up their minds on the issues, and it’s just a matter of convincing some people who have decided to sit out the voting process that it’s worth being counted and being part of it.”
Chapman’s music has touched on social and political causes throughout her career, including anti-apartheid movements on college campuses where she launched her career in the 1980s. None of that can compare with the intense feelings she has seen in this election year.
“All of the other causes in some way are all political,” she says. “If it’s talking about human rights issues or it’s something related to the economic issues, ultimately it’s political.
“I can’t say that I’ve seen the kind of action and the focus that is being given to this particular election in my lifetime.”
She calls it a convergence of “a lot of circumstances that have come about in last four years,” starting with the contested 2000 election.
“It’s a set of issues that are all interrelated. Economic issues in this country are not being properly addressed. We did have a tax cut that benefited wealthy people in this country that was at the expense of many things, services that I think are essential for working people in this country. At same time, we’re fighting a war that is draining money that could go to address some of these domestic issues like education and health care.”
If rock stars are “morons,” as Alice Cooper once observed, should music have a role in choosing the next president? Whatever the answer, Chapman says it already has.
“I think it has already been successful with the popular musicians who get a lot of press coverage for being involved in trying to create social change,” she says. “I’m doing this as a concerned citizen who happens to be a musician.”
- Activists Flock to `Vote for Change’ Concert – By Andrew Dunn | The Ledger – Published Saturday, October 9, 2004
ORLANDO — Music fans, not to mention potential voters, were treated to a heady duet of music and politics when the “Vote for Change” tour swept through Orlando on Friday night.
People wearing band T-shirts alongside folks sporting campaign buttons poured into the TD Waterhouse Centre to hear Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. But before they even got to the door, there were activists ready to hand out materials or shout support for their particular causes.
There were supporters of presidential candidate John Kerry, supporters for Democratic Senate candidate Betty Castor and even an activist or two for greyhounds. Not surprisingly, most of the activists leaned to the liberal side.
Phoebe Cohen, a member of the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group in Orlando, passed out flyers from her group in front of the arena. Her friend Jeff Shelby was dressed in an over-size John Kerry costume, similar to those seen at parades.
“We are endorsing John Kerry,” she said. “He is a dream come true for the environmental community.”
She said Kerry has an even better record on the environment than former Vice President Al Gore. She said the group has graded politicians, including Kerry, on the environment.
“We gave him an A,” she said. “Also, for the first time in our 34year history, we’ve given George Bush an F.”
John Coggin, also a member of the conservation league, helped out Friday.
“This is the place for recruitment,” he said. “If anyone is wondering how they can get involved, we want them to come to us.”
Cohen did not think she and her friends were preaching to the choir.
“We’re not just telling them to vote for Kerry,” Cohen said. We’re telling them, `Work with us to vote for Kerry.’ If you want to see Kerry president, work and talk to more undecided voters about voting for Kerry.”
Coggin said he was sure many people came to the concert just for the music. But that didn’t slow him down.
“We’re here to remind them that Bruce (Springsteen) is doing this for political reasons,” he said. “And they should be actively involved the same way Bruce is.”
The Orlando event was one of six “Vote for Change” concerts held in Florida on Friday night. James Taylor and the Dixie Chicks performed in Clearwater and Pearl Jam and Death Cab for Cutie were in Kissimmee. Other concerts were in Jacksonville, Gainesville and Miami.
The performers are conducting concerts nationwide in support of Kerry.
Peg Carroll and Ron Smith, of Port Orange, and Wade Burford and Jacquie Labreche, of South Daytona, said they were attending the Orlando concert for both the music and the politics. Carroll and Labreche were wearing Kerry buttons.
“We need a change,” Carroll said.
“We’ve got to get our boys home, for sure. It can’t be any worse than it is right now with the deficit and the war that shouldn’t have been done,” said Labreche.
Dave Peral was politically active Friday night, but his message was pro-President Bush.
“I think Bush is tough on terrorism,” he said. “I agree with him. Take the battle to your enemy before they bring it to us.”
He carried a Bush campaign sign and a homemade sign reading: “You should be home watching the debate.”
On the inside, the message was decidedly political.
Singer Tracy Chapman told the crowd that this was their opportunity to “make the world we want to live in.”
A large monitor played snippets of other “Vote for Change” artists supporting voter mobilization or criticizing the Bush administration.
Michael Stipe, lead singer for R.E.M., recommended Betty Castor for Senate. And he told fans that they should be supporting Kerry.
“I think you should vote for John Kerry because he’s smart and he has experience and he’s a Vietnam veteran, which is very important.”
- Bruce pays Orlando a rocking visit – By Jim Abbot | Sentinel Pop Music Critic | OrlandoSentinel.com- Posted October 9, 2004
So you mess up one presidential election and four years later a bunch of really cool rock stars do concerts in your state.
On Friday, the Vote for Change tour hit Florida — or, as Bruce Springsteen called it in his show at TD Waterhouse Centre: “The scene of the crime.”
Springsteen and the E Street Band were joined by R.E.M., Tracy Chapman and John Fogerty for a stellar performance for a packed house ready to hear a partisan message about putting a new administration in the White House in November.
Judging by the “Bruuuuccee!” chants before the show, Springsteen was the main attraction. When he and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe emerged to introduce the show, the Boss told the crowd that he wouldn’t stand for such attention.
“Tonight, this is a ‘No Bruuuucccing’ zone,” he cautioned. “We have too many good musicians on the stage.” Then, he offered the night’s mission statement: to fight for a government “that is open, rational, progressive, responsive to its citizens and humane.
“And we will rock the house while doing so!”
The Orlando show, one of five Vote for Change shows in Florida on Friday, was the closing night of an 11-state, 33-city trek through swing states sponsored by the political action group America Coming Together. There was the potential for windbag monologues, but Friday night there was more rock than rhetoric.
Accompanied by a drummer and a second guitarist, Chapman opened with an expressive 30 minutes that showcased her deep, distinctive alto and eloquent songwriting.
Along with favorites such as “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason,” she also included a lovely rendition of the 1960s Civil Rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
Chapman was followed by R.E.M., which blasted through an hour that mixed songs from the new Around the Sun with a cross-section of older material. Dressed in a white suit, the diminutive Stipe accompanied his singing with an array of spastic dances on “The One I Love,” “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and “Begin the Begin.”
Though the Around the Sun songs were pretty, the subdued mood of the album’s title track seemed to leave the crowd restless. The protest ballad “Final Straw” was delivered with more urgency, but the crowd withheld its most passionate responses for hits such as “Losing My Religion.”
Springsteen traded vocals and guitar licks on a pair of songs to close R.E.M.’s set, adding a muscular edge to the melodic “Man on the Moon” with a searing guitar solo.
When Springsteen finally took the stage with his own band, he delivered a two-hour performance that affirmed his reputation as a peerless concert act. He started alone, strumming “The Star Spangled Banner” fiercely on 12-string guitar as a prelude to an album-worthy “Born in the U.S.A.”
That song lit the fuse on a fiery tear through “Badlands,” “Prove It All Night” and “No Surrender.” With the initial burst out of the way, Springsteen settled into a well-paced show marked by sonic peaks and valleys instead of the nonstop sprints he once delivered.
There were moments of reinvention, such as the rocking full-band treatment of Nebraska’s “Johnny 99” flavored by Danny Federici’s accordion and Soozie Tyrell’s fiddle. There was the anthemic power of “The Rising,” which foreshadowed the uplifting finale.
There was a pleasant duet with Chapman on “My Hometown,” a soaring cover of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” with Stipe and a show-stopping four-song segment with Fogerty. The latter sounded ageless as he ripped into “Fortunate Son” and traded verses with the Boss on “Promised Land.”
Springsteen confined his political preaching to the tent-revival monologue in “Mary’s Place,” when he “healed” a nonbeliever “from the burdens of Republicanism.” Later, he was more serious:
“America is not always right,” Springsteen told the crowd. “That’s a fairy tale that you tell your children. But America is always true, and it’s in seeking those truths that we find a deeper patriotism.”
When all the musicians took the stage for the rousing finale, “People Have the Power,” it was obvious that the feelings were true — even if some might not think they were right.
- Music briefly trumps politics – By Daniel Chang | Miami Herald – Posted on Sat, Oct. 09, 2004
Most fans went to the ‘Vote for Change’ concert in Orlando to hear Bruce Springsteen and other musicians. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have political opinions.
ORLANDO – The thousands of music fans who turned out for the anti-Bush ”Vote for Change” concert in Orlando Friday night were not looking for political persuasion so much as seeking entertainment. And if the musicians affirmed the political beliefs of the majority of the fans, then many said that was just a happy coincidence.
From the parking lot outside the TD Waterhouse Centre to the floor of the arena, music fans said they were there to see the headline performers — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and R.E.M. — even if most of the T-shirts and bumper stickers urged Bush’s defeat.
”We’re here for the music,” said Peyton Bradley, 46, of Fernandina, as he sat in the bed of his Chevy pickup drinking a Budweiser long neck, his wife, Joyce, standing nearby. “But we’re both Democrats.”
Springsteen, R.E.M. and folk singer Tracy Chapman, who opened the show, are among a loose coalition of more than 20 musicians who announced in August that they would perform in 36 cities across 12 battleground states to mobilize opposition to President Bush. The 10-day series of concerts will culminate in Washington on Monday.
For most of the show, none of the performers mentioned either of the presidential candidates by name. Instead, they urged the audience to vote for ”a change in the direction of our government,” as Springsteen told the crowd during a brief introduction.
Chapman spoke of the struggles of the civil rights movement and women’s suffrage and then segued into a song titled Change is gonna come.
R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe used a similar tactic until, near the end of his set, he called the 2000 election ”fraudulent” before finally saying: “I don’t care who people vote for. Actually, I do. I think people should vote for Kerry because he’s smart. He has experience. And he’s a veteran of the Vietnam war, which is important to me.”
Springsteen, who opened his set with Born to Run, was not as overtly political, though he insisted during videotaped interviews played on giant monitors in between sets that the administration had erred in Iraq, on health care, and with tax cuts.
Still, not all in the audience were convinced. Tailgating from the open rear hatch of a white Chevy Trailblazer SUV, five friends were debating politics. Two of the five men were Bush supporters, two were for Kerry and one was undecided. ”Music and politics are two different things,” said Duke Gunn, 46, of Richmond, Va., a Bush supporter.