EIGHT years ago, the then-Democrat candidate for the US presidential election, John Kerry, came charging across Boston harbour in a patrol boat.
Kerry was making his grand entry for the Democrat Convention being hosted in his home town.
Blaring from loudspeakers affixed to the boat was Bruce Springsteen's No Surrender.
Kerry, who was wounded and decorated for bravery in Vietnam where he skippered a swift boat, was seeking to unseat George W Bush after one term, and Springsteen was backing him.
As well as allowing Kerry to use his song, Springsteen appeared at several rallies with Kerry, warming up the throngs with his acoustic guitar.
It was a risk for the Boss, who previously had let his music do the talking. An icon in the United States, his Republican-voting fans began complaining.
He was not subject to the same levels of hatred as the Dixie Chicks, who had their albums burned and their songs boycotted on radio for their disdain of Bush, but he received his fair share of heat.
Unlike Kerry, Wayne Swan has invoked the Boss for political purposes without his permission - but he is by no means the first.
In 1984, the then-US President Ronald Reagan, campaigning in Springsteen's native New Jersey, completely misunderstood Springsteen's then-number one hit, Born in the USA. Reagan believed it to be anthemic and failed to appreciate it was a tribute to those from working class backgrounds who were sent to Vietnam. It was dedicated to those who did not return and it lambasted the treatment of those who did.
To Springsteen's horror, Reagan told the rally: ''America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen.''
In a fine profile of Springsteen in last week's New Yorker magazine, author David Remnick recounts the tale.
Springsteen said Born in the USA was the most misunderstood song since Louie, Louie, ''and he began to sing an acoustic version that leached it of its bombast and made its dark shadings plainer''.
Indeed, grab a copy of the DVD of Springsteen and the E-Street Band playing live at Madison Square Garden in 2001, and witness the superb version of Springsteen playing the song alone with a 12-string guitar and slide. Impossible to misunderstand.
Swan has long been a Springsteen tragic. He has a concert poster in his office and he has seen him perform several times.
Swan's invocation of the Boss in tonight's John Button lecture is certainly a clever way of drawing attention to his speech but the speech does have a serious edge.
Far from resiling from his attacks on the mining billionaires Clive Palmer, Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart, Swan expresses regret he did not go harder when he attacked them in his Monthly essay, written in March.
He accused them of using their enormous wealth to try and influence public policy for their own benefit, not that of the nation. He cites as an example their opposition to the mining tax, which is supposed to spread the benefits of the mining boom.
He notes that after his essay, Mr Palmer used his fortune to mount a now-aborted campaign to challenge Mr Swan for his seat of Lilley, Mr Forrest launched a High Court challenge to the mining tax, and Ms Rinehart made a bid to control for Fairfax Media, publisher of this website, but declined to sign the company's charter of editorial independence.
''So, one tycoon is using his money to challenge the principle of fair taxation through electioneering,'' he said.
''A second is using his money to challenge it through the courts. And a third is using her money to challenge it by undermining independent journalism.
''Parliament, the Constitution, independent journalism. Al three are fundamental pillars of our democracy, being used as their playthings, supported every step of the way by the Leader of the Opposition.''
Palmer defended himself this morning and played the nationalist card. ''Unlike the Treasurer I don't go to the United States for inspiration,'' he said, saying he preferred the Australian band Redgum.
Fine songwriter that he is, Redgum's John Schumann is no Springsteen, but they have something in common. Schumann's I Was Only Nineteen, a tribute to those who went to Vietnam, was as misunderstood by some as was Born in the USA.
Interwoven throughout tonight's lecture is Swan's working class ethos, which the Treasurer says was influenced by Springsteen's lyrics more than anything else.
This speech is as personal as it is political. This is Swan telling us about himself and what has motivated him as much as it is a recital of his claims that Tony Abbott and his rich mates harbour devious plans to grow the wealth divide.
''The gross economic inequality of this position is the kind of injustice that corrodes Australia's precious social contract and is exactly the kind of peril that Springsteen is warning against,'' says Swan.
Could it also be a bit of profile raising - just in case Swan's close friend and fellow member of the Springsteen generation, Julia Gillard, falls over?