No, I always felt that amongst my core fans- because there was a level of popularity that I had in the mid ’80s that was sort of a bump on the scale- they fundamentally understood the values that are at work in my work. Certainly tolerance and acceptance were at the forefront of my music. If . my work was about anything, it was about the search for identity, for personal recognition, for acceptance, for communion, and for a big country. I’ve always felt that’s why people come to my shows, because they feel that big country in their hearts.
You mean a country big enough for everyone?
Yes. Unfortunately, once you get a really big audience, then people come for a lot of different reasons. And they can misunderstand the songs.
You even had to deal with President Reagan thinking “Born in the U.S.A.” was about his values.
Yes, at that one point the country moved to the right, and there was a lot of nastiness, intolerance, and attitudes that gave rise to more intolerance. So I’m always in the process of trying to clarify who I am and what I do. That’s why I wanted to talk to you.