As “The Boss” prepares for his half-time performance at the Super Bowl tomorrow, he’s feeling a little heat from some fans who did not see his exclusive deal with Wal-Mart to sell his Greatest Hits CD as a smart move.
Exclusive distribution deals seem to be in vogue these days with other popular groups like the Eagles and AC/DC inking exclusive deals with the retail giant, but with Springsteen’s reputation as an advocate for working folk, there are fans that see this move as hypocritical, since there has been a lot of well-publicized criticism regarding Wal-Mart’s treatment of its employees, or as Wal-Mart likes to call them, “associates.” The company has paid large fines for violations of labor laws in the past.
As a result of the fan backlash, Springsteen has admitted that the Wal-Mart was a mistake. In an interview with the New York Times, Springsteen says, “We were in the middle of doing a lot of things, it kind of came down and, really, we didn’t vet it the way we usually do. We just dropped the ball on it.”
Although Springsteen’s manager defended the Wal-Mart deal (I suppose that’s part of the job) by saying that Springsteen’s albums have been at Wal-Mart for a while already and account for 15 percent of all sales, I’d have to say that “The Boss” deserves some credit for publicly admitting the mistake.
Springsteen want on to say that, “Given its [Wal-Mart’s] labor history, it was something that if we’d thought about it a little longer, we’d have done something different. It was a mistake. Our batting average is usually very good, but we missed that one. Fans will call you on that stuff, as it should be.”
It will be up to each individual fans to judge the validity of Springsteen’s public contrition and whether or not he deserves to maintain his reputation as the working man’s rock star.