As we approach yet another election we thought it was the perfect time to revisit the moment R.E.M’s Michael Stipe joined Bruce Springsteen on stage to sing a rousing rendition of ‘Because The Night’ and ‘Man on the Moon’.
Back in 2004 as the Bush administration sought reelection, a collection of musicians got together to help promote John Kerry in a bid to defeat the Republican. Swing states across America were treated to performances from some huge musical acts including Pearl Jam, John Fogerty, Babyface, the Dixie Chicks and the Dave Matthews Band.
October 11th, 2004 the headliners were none other than indie forefathers R.E.M. and The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. Stipe joined Springsteen and the E Street Band for a duet of ‘Because The Night’.
The track was originally written by Springsteen but forgotten about as throwaway song composed during the sessions for Darkness on the Edge of Town. After it was given over to Patti Smith, with whom R.E.M have also enjoyed a top-notch duet, to make some lyrical tweaks the song returned as a powerhouse anthem.
Stipe has always cited Patti Smith as an inspiration. As well as the aforementioned duet of ‘E-Bow the Letter’ the frontman has even published a book of photographs of Smith during a heady tour called Two Times Intro. Stip clearly relished the opportunity to cover Smith’s song and delivered a searing rendition. A performance perhaps only matched by his unstoppably watchable dancing.
Springsteen perhaps with a chance to grab a piece of the spotlight himself balances out Stipe’s bodily performance with a blistering guitar solo. A solo so powerful it reduced Michael Stipe to his knees.
R.E.M. later returned to the stage to repay the compliment and allow Springsteen to join them in a rousing showing of ‘Man on the Moon’. The Boss takes the second verse and even comes fully prepared with another guitar solo.
“Sitting on the sidelines would be a betrayal of the ideas I’d written about for a long time,” Springsteen told Rolling Stone addressing his role as a political voice during the election, standing up for the little man. “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.
“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.”
Watch below as Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. perform ‘Because The Night’ and ‘Man on the Moon’ as part of the Vote for Change tour in 2004.