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Interview: Bruce Springsteen

2009-03-17 12:43
Bruce Springsteen

On the impetus behind Working on a Dream
I haven’t written like this in a long time and I love this kind of music. Um, I love the big pop productions of the 60s and The Righteous Brothers, Walker Brothers. I love those big romantic records, and so I said, "Well, this is something that I haven't done". Listen to full audio clip here

On working with the E Street Band
It’s…a rock record of some sort, music that people can hear the E Street Band playing but hopefully it’s an extension of that sound at this point. Which is really what Brendan O’Brien gave us, he gave us a way that the band was going to sound in the present. Through the ‘90s I struggled trying to find a sound and a purpose for the E Street Band which is why we had that long, long break. I said ‘Well what am I gonna do with the band?’ I’m not so sure. 'How does the band sound now?' I really don’t exactly know. Listen to full audio clip here

On working with prodcuer Brendan O'Brien
So much of what you’re doing is you’re writing for an audience. [And the] first person in the audience [is] me!" (chuckles). Second, you know, [it’s] very often [manager] Jon [Landau] or the guys in the band. That’s the audience I perform for first when I have new music. That’s the first place I get feedback, and ... suddenly, I had this new guy, had this new audience. Right? Different roots, little younger than the rest of us, had a language that was drawn from not just the references that we drew from, but now. Here’s a guy who was hip, he knew all of our references [and the] places where I, you know, steal all my things [laughs]. Listen to full audio clip here

On the theme of the album
I guess it deals with kind of love and mortality….Patti and I’ve been together 20 years, that’s a long time, you know, and it feels like nothing but it’s a lot of experience together. You get to that point in your life where there’s a lot of experience together. But it’s finite. You know, you realize well I’ve spent a big chunk of my life, we’ve spent a big chunk of our lives together. And ... there’s, the, the cosmic elements [laughs] [that] start to leak into your relationship, you know, where you see, you see into the future, and you also see its finiteness, you know. And you go "Wow". Well, rock music is set in the eternal present. For me when I was young that was its’ primary message, [it] was now, now, now, now. Live now. And I think, that’s why, part of what the band when we come out onstage, you know, we are desperate for ‘now’ ... [laughs] ... very desperate for now. Listen to full audio clip here

On the opening track, a cowboy fable called "Outlaw Pete"
…my mother used to tell me this story about Cowboy Bill. And it was "Of all the hands on Bar-H Ranch, the bravest was young Cowboy Bill." So I said, well ... uh ... okay, you know, this is "Outlaw Pete"! So I started off sort of like a Coen Brothers' movie and a sort of, this little baby that's robbing a bank [laughs]. [It] starts out this little baby cowboy that's, that's robbing a bank and, and all he says is, all he wants people to know is, ‘I’m Outlaw Pete’. ‘Can you hear me?’ [laughs] So, so initially I said ‘Yeah, that’s, that’s a good line, man.’ ‘I’m Outlaw Pete, can you hear me,’ you know. Listen to full audio clip here

On the inspiration behind "Queen of the Supermarket"
“They opened up this big beautiful supermarket near where we lived. And Patti and I would go down [laughs], and we'd I remember walking through the aisles, I probably hadn’t been in one in a while and I walked in and said, ‘Wow’. This place is spectacular [laughs]. This place is - it’s a fantasyland. So I came home [more laughs], and said "Wow, the supermarket is, is fantastic, it’s my new favourite place". And I said I’m gonna write a song, I’m gonna write a song about it. Listen to full audio clip here

On inspiration when he's writing songs
Marty Scorsese once said, the artist’s job is to make people care about your obsessions and see them as their own and experience them as their own. You’re always trying to do that, you know. And I think when you grab your audience, you’re doing that well, and when you and your audience diverge, maybe you’re not doing it quite as well. So even, even if I move to The Ghost of Tom Joad or Nebraska I always assume people are going to be interested in what I’m interested in. If I tell the story interestingly enough, you know. That’s my job. It’s about the search for and, and, and discovering beauty in the everyday. That, that was what was great about all the music I loved as a child. Listen to full audio clip here

On the meaning of "Kingdom of Days"
"Kingdom of Days" is about time, time, because, uh ... I'm old enough to worry about that a little bit. [Laughs] Not too much but a little bit. The whole first couple of verses are about, how ... uh ... time is, is obliterated ... in the presence of somebody ... you love at certain moments, you know. How there seems to be a transcendence of, of time, in love. And I believe that there is. Listen to full audio clip here

On writing about death
Actually if you go back to "Wreck on the Highway" and it starts, it starts to run through a lot of my music. ‘Sinaloa Cowboys,’ it’s a subtext through a lot of things, as ... uh, it’s in "Ramrod." [Laughs] ‘Hey, they’re gonna go ramrod, forever more, you know’. There the set-up is sort of ... an idea that you can perhaps, run away from time. It’s in most great rock music, because the very desperateness of the present-ness, and impact of so many great records, immediately tells you, oh, there’s something else, my friend. Listen to full clip here

On the passing of old friend & band mate Danny Federici and writing The Last Carnival about him
It was just a ... song I wrote for Danny ... after he died, you know, um ... It was sort of, it's the flip side of ‘Wild Billy’s Circus Story’ I guess. Danny ... Danny brought that ... He was a unique player, you know, and ... sighs you know it's, it’s just you go back of course, you know, listening to his playing recently and ... he was just ... he was a true folk musician, in that no one played like him, in that he could not repeat things that he did ... regularly. I’ve never seen a more spontaneous player. Listen to full audio clip here

On writing the title song for the film The Wrestler
I know Mickey Rourke from a long time back, when, uh ... I guess the early ‘80s or something, you know, he’d come to some shows and we met and we hung out a little bit when I first moved to Los Angeles. I was just always a fan of his acting and his, his, uh, he’s just a guy that he, he just carries some uniqueness with him, you know, a level of authenticity and just a beautiful guy. So he called me, he said, ‘Well this movie is kind of a, he said it was a small movie, they were looking for some music, I said I don’t think I have time to ... score a picture and I’ve never done it but I, I can see if I can come up with a song, so they sent me a script and I read the script and, uh, and I wrote the song, you know, probably in an afternoon. Listen to full audio clip here

On writing something for a fictional character that’s not him
Everybody understands hurt, you know. [Laughs] It's the old job of putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes, while you’ve got a foot in somebody else’s shoe, and a foot in your own shoe. [Laughs] You know. And that’s how it works. I’m grounding this song in something that I know, I’ve felt, I’ve experienced myself, that I believe I can write about. If I can’t write about it then I can’t write you your song, you know, I can’t write that song.  Listen to full audio clip here

On why he still strikes a chord with fans after 36 years
The writers people are interested in are people that [have] got something eating at them. Those are the guys they’re interested in. Elvis - what was eating at that guy? Why did he have to sing like that and move like that? Jerry Lee Lewis, what was eating at him, what was eating at Hank Williams? Johnny Lydon, you know, what's, what's eating at [him?]. Listen to full audio clip here

Working On A Dream is out now through Sony Music. You can buy the album here

The Boss talks about the inspiration behind his new CD, Working on a Dream, writing "The Wrestler" for Mickey Rourke, mortality and more in this in depth audio interview.

Andre 2009/03/18 8:23 AM
Bruce will always be the BOSS. This album is genius. It is better than the previous album, Magic. If Bruce ever came to SA I would attend every performance. I have been a fan since 1984. So thats 25 years, long live THE BOSS.
Hanlie 2009/03/19 8:53 AM
I haven't heard the album yet, but I've also been a fan for 25 years and Bruce remains my favorite artist of all time! We really should invite him to SA!
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