Springsteen Sings About Diallo Case

Friday, June 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Bruce Springsteen, in his warm-up performance before opening a 10-night stand in New York, introduced a new song apparently inspired by last year's police slaying of an unarmed West African immigrant in the Bronx.

The New Jersey rocker, playing Sunday night with his E Street Band in Atlanta, debuted ``American Skin (41 Shots)'' about a third of the way into the three-hour show.

Ed Cronin, 39, a die-hard Springsteen fan who attended the show, said the Boss never mentioned the victim, Amadou Diallo. ``He just said, `This is a new song called `American Skin (41 Shots),' and they started playing,'' Cronin recalled.

The song opens with Springsteen repeating the words ''41 shots, 41 shots'' — the number of bullets fired at Diallo by four police officers who mistook his wallet for a gun.

The 22-year-old man from Guinea was hit by 19 of the bullets and killed in the vestibule of his apartment building. The four officers involved in the shooting were acquitted of murder in February.

According to one fan, the song contains the line, ``Is this your wallet? Is this your life?'' At another point, Springsteen reportedly sings, ``You can get killed just for living in your American skin.''

The song is unrecorded and unreleased, and came as a complete surprise to the sold-out crowd in the Philips Arena.

``It's one of the great Springsteen songs of the last 15 years,'' said Cronin.

The song sparked much comment on the Internet, where fans who were at the Atlanta show universally agreed with Cronin.

``Wow!! What a powerful song,'' wrote one visitor to a site for Springsteen fans. ``Powerful and poignant.''

A Springsteen spokesman had no comment on the new material or its inspiration.

Springsteen opens a 10-night stand at Madison Square Garden on Monday, with the final show of his reunion tour set for July 1. Since Springsteen routinely changes his set list from night to night, it's unclear if he will perform ``American Skin'' in New York.


On the Net: Site for Springsteen fans: http://www.luckytown.org