The Washington Times - January 9, 2009, 11:20AM

I’m sure it has something to do with the virtually guaranteed boost in sales, but the Super Bowl Halftime Show bookers have done a superb job in recent years of turning those 12 short minutes into a major musical event.

If you’d told me, say, seven or 16 years ago, that I’d one day look forward to the show with anything like anticipation, I’d have rolled my eyes. Yet, in contravention of statistical principles, the Super Bowl Halftime Show seems to have achieved and maintained an improbably high standard: U2, Macca, Stones, Prince, Petty, now Bruce. It doesn’t get any more A-listy than that.

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Now, there’s the fact that once you’ve dispatched with a finite number of classic acts, you’ll be back to Britney, Janet, Justin and all the rest of the mainstream mediocrities. Until then, I tip my hat, and tap my toes …

Oh, as for Bruce’s set list predictions/suggestions: Twelve minutes click by awfully fast. Prince cleverly cobbled together a medley of hits, including an unexpected snippet of the Foo Fighters. But that doesn’t seem like Bruce’s syle. A friend and I recently joked that he would emerge solo, with acoustic guitar and harmonica, asking, as is his wont at times, if “I can get some quiet.” Or perhaps a set of protest-y songs, like “American Skin (41 Shots).” Or maybe a 12-minute reprise of his cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream.”

That’d rock the house, eh?

I imagine, more seriously, that Bruce will follow the Stones’ and U2’s template of two classics and one new cut from his forthcoming album, which he’ll be keen to promote. So, I’m guessing the new single, “Workin’ On a Dream.” “Born to Run” seems to me a lock. “Glory Days” is a baseball tune, and hence unlikely. “Born in the U.S.A.,” despite its deceptively depressing subject matter, would go over extremely well — I’d give it a 30 percent shot. But my hunch is he’ll go with “The Promised Land,” which kicked off his last appearance on “The Today Show.” It may not be as familiar, but it’s one of the man’s personal faves. And its refrain (“I believe in the promised land”) would thematically sync quite nicely with both “Workin’ on a Dream” and Bruce’s political sensibilities of late.

So there’s my best guess: “The Promised Land”; “Workin’ On a Dream”; “Born to Run.” If he pares down song-length, throw in “Born in the U.S.A.” as well…