In 2004, the politically motivated ‘Vote For Change’ tour set around a string of dates across the United States organised by a string of musicians.
Taking place in October throughout a number of US States that were split politically, the tour was designed to encourage people to register to vote and, officially, it was earmarked as a non-partisan and unbiased event. However, many of the artists confirmed to play the show regularly took to the stage to urge audience members to vote against then-President George W. Bush.
With the likes of Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Dixie Chicks, Neil Young, Pearl Jam and more involved, the tour proved to be a financial success as the 40 shows raised in excess of $10 million for America Coming Together, a political action group dedicated to increasing the vote count.
“Sitting on the sidelines would be a betrayal of the ideas I’d written about for a long time,” Springsteen told Rolling Stone at the time when detailing his decision to perform. “I don’t want to watch the country devolve into an oligarchy, watch the division of wealth increase and see another million beneath the poverty line this year.”
While supporting Bush’s presidential rival, John Kerry, Springsteen added: “These are all things that have been the subtext of so much of my music, and to see the country move so quickly to the right, so much further to the right than what the president campaigned on—these are the things that removed whatever doubt I may have had about getting involved.”
While Springsteen’s efforts to support Kerry proved to be unsuccessful when Bush was reelected, his collaboration with R.E.M’s Michael Stipe did result in a positive reaction.
See their rendition of ‘Because the Night’ below.