Rich man wanna be king/
And a king ain't satisfied/
Till he rules everything... - "Badlands," Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
One of the ongoing stories as we're heading towards the brick wall of January 20th 2017 - and the inauguration of the least qualified and least popular President-Elect of All Time in Donald Trump - is how Trump and his people have been having the hardest time rounding up celebrities and musical performers for his grand Inaugural.
In modern times - as television has made such events a global must-see - an incoming new President presides over a gala night of celebration among the artists and the wealthy celebs who either helped promote the candidate to victory or else shares a common ground on issues to where the artists feel comfortable playing to the President's fanbase.
But Trump is a different case than any of the others before him.
For starters, a shitload of musicians hate Trump right off the bat.
It's partly because Trump kept playing their songs at his rallies when they kept telling him to stop. No respect from him, ergo no respect from them.
It's partly because Trump's built up a reputation for failing to pay his performers what he promised. I hope to God that 3 Doors Down asked for their money up front. (note: I had four songs from 3 Doors Down on my iTunes. Had...)
It's partly because Trump's sexist behavior around supermodels has kinda made him a dangerous man to be with if you're anywhere prettier than a Five.
And it's mostly because a lot of musicians, actors, and the simply famous do not share his world-view of pissing on (yeah, I went there) the less fortunate.
And yet, Trump and his transition team has been trying hard to find anybody with an A-List name willing to show up and perform in his honor.
It's not that he loves any of these performers. (I wonder what kind of music Trump listens to in the first place) It's that A-List celebrities are what he wants to surround himself with so he can feed off their fame and claim himself as one of them.
For all his disdain and insults he tweets towards them - the actors and musicians who publicly embarrass him or call him out for his shameless vulgarity - if say Meryl Streep suddenly turned around and invited Trump to a Hollywood house party I guarantee you Trump would be on the first private plane out to the West Coast.
Trump's ego - the desire to be seen as successful, or handsome, or powerful - requires him to prove his worth by seeking out the truly successful and pretty and powerful and insert himself into their scene.
Remember this, Trump killed an entire sports league - the USFL - because he wanted to force himself into one of the hardest cliques to get into: the small circle of big-time sports owners. It's something that's bugged him almost his entire life. And the sports owners to the four (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) major leagues - who have a pretty good idea that Trump is corrupt and bankrupt - have blocked him across the board (ever notice how when a New York based team is up for sale that a supposed billionaire like Trump isn't even allowed to make a pitch?).
And it's not enough that he has to be seen with the celebrities and the successful and the glamorous. He has to be placed front and center among them, and have them speak of him in glowing wonderful terms. Getting bands to sing in his presence, to sing to his glory, will boost his Ego like no other.
And it'd be a bonus to that Ego if he can get those who dismiss or deride him to back down, to crumble under his pressure. Like the political opponents he bullied into submission during the campaign, his victory over them is when they're working for him as the hired help, begging for table scraps and favors he dishes out to his whims.
So while he'll crow that he'll be perfectly fine with Ted Nugent and Kid Rock - known celebrities but also artists shuffled to the fringes of celebrity due to their vocal extremism - and he'll be happy getting Toby Keith as Country music tends to lean conservative already, missing out on the more glamorous performers that showed up with eager grins for Obama in 2009 is a kick to his ever-hungry Ego. As long as those artists and celebrities keep telling him NO, he can't enjoy a damn thing.
Making it worse is when the performers who turn him down do so publicly, with a level of snark and horror that make it clear how hated Trump is to them (and to those performers' fanbases).
How bad has it gotten for Trump?
It's not that Trump is getting denied by Bruce Springsteen - one of the top live American performers of the last 40 years - it's that Trump is getting dumped by a Springsteen cover band:
The B-Street Band, a popular Bruce Springsteen cover group that's performed nearly 200 gigs a year since 1980, convened in the dressing room Sunday night before a typical late-afternoon gig at Bensalem, PA's Parx Casino.
Will Forte, the group's 63-year-old keyboardist, manager, agent and publicist, among other roles, was telling the band about the "thousands of emails from both sides" he had received after news broke that the group would be playing the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala on January 19th as part of Donald Trump's inauguration. "We're standing out in the storm right here," he told the band. "We gotta get out of the storm..."
Okay, as a side note, don't cover bands come into existence after most of the people involved in the original band are all dead or something? You know, like the Doors cover band or the Milli Vanilli cover band? I digress, let's move on...
If the B-Street Band pledge allegiance to anyone, it's Springsteen, who has repeatedly voiced his anger and disgust at the president-elect. (Forte half-jokingly said of the B-Street Band last week, "I don't even know if they have any politics.") Out of respect for their musical inspiration, they've decided to pull out of this week's event.
When I first heard about the cover band playing for Trump, I couldn't believe the story was real. A cover band has to love the artist(s) they're covering: to love Bruce is to understand where he comes from - Joisey - and what drives Bruce's music and lyrical directions - which leans progressive, pro-Union, pro-Democrat.
Trump is everything - greedy, racist, an upper class thief that has wrecked Atlantic City and ruined thousands of workers' livelihoods - that Bruce Springsteen despises. He's done entire albums - Nebraska, Ghost of Tom Joad - that would rail against the kind of world Trump would build (and then destroy).
That the B-Street Band finally decided to bow out under pressure - that Springsteen's fanbase would never forgive them if they played, that Bruce himself would be horrified if they did - is a sign of how tenuous Trump's hold on America's celebrity world is.
That Trump's people were desperate enough to hire a cover band in the first place is an obvious sign of how low into the lists of available acts they were diving to get anything of value.
In an age where celebrity is across every medium, broadcast into every home via radio or TV or Internet, having a low-level, B-List type of inauguration is going to haunt Trump and blast his Ego into a thousand sharp angry pieces. No matter how hard he tries to convince the world - convince himself - that his gala night is the greatest (no, no it won't be) of all time.
And it won't help his Ego if the crowd turnout is going to be about a third (maybe half) of what Obama got in 2009 or 2013.
Denying Trump any level of satisfaction is good for the soul.
But the fight continues against everything else Trump represents.
Wishing for some angels to blow this Trump into the sea...