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American Skin (41 Shots): Wikis


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"American Skin (41 Shots)" is a song written by Bruce Springsteen, inspired by the police shooting death of Amadou Diallo. It features a slow build-up, an intense main section themed around the status of immigrants in the United States, and then a long slow-down.

Springsteen first performed it in concert in Atlanta on June 4, 2000, the final concert before the tour's final 10-show run at New York City's Madison Square Garden, where it was also featured. His performance of a song supposedly critical of the New York Police Department (even though he never explicitly refers to Diallo, just to "41 shots", and portrays the emotions of one of the officers immediately after the shooting somewhat sympathetically) led to some controversy in New York City, where the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association called for a boycott of his shows. The song appears to be an even-handed attempt to explain the tensions between police and minorities, as shown in the lyrics (see External Links below). Police can get shot for the uniform they wear; minorities can get shot for the color of their skin. The lyrics note that "we're baptized in these waters / and in each other's blood" (emphasis added).

"American Skin (41 Shots)" is featured on the Emmy Award-winning album, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live in New York City, and the associated HBO special. Moments into the song, Springsteen says to the audience, "We need some quiet." Not surprisingly, the audience respected Springsteen's wishes and remained quiet throughout the song. The refrain "41 Shots" is sung exactly 41 times in that performance. Diallo's family from the West African country of Guinea were guests of Springsteen's at this show.

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