BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AT 60: Still running through America

 |   |  2 min read

Bruce Springsteen: You're Missing (from The Rising)
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AT 60: Still running through America

Sometimes we forget just how huge Bruce Springsteen has been: between '75 and '85 alone he sold in excess of 50 million albums (one of them, The River, was a double) and although he deliberately turned from mainstream success with low-key albums like Nebraska (in '82) and The Ghost of Tom Joad ('95) that has hardly stopped his juggernaut.

His Greatest Hits released in '95 notched up a healthy 15 million units, then you can add in the Live 1975-85 three-CD box set of '86 (13 million in the US alone) and . . .

You get the picture: here's the man who was on the cover of both Time and Newsweek simultaneously in October 75, has won 20 Grammy since '84 – and is still out there touring to massive crowds. The current double-disc DVD London Calling: Live in Hyde Park captures Springsteen and the E Street Band in blistering form in June of last year before an audience that goes as far as the eye can see.

The Springsteen phenomenon is complex: here is a multi-millionaire who people believe is a working man; he's a stadium filler who sings introverted song which can be about meagre individuals; his lyrics can be about a promised land or a promise which has failed . . .

He writes short stories and delivers them either solo with an acoustic guitar or with the bombast of the E Street band.

Springsteen is a kind of Everyman: the working guy from the factory, the Vietnam veteran, the solitary individual thinking about the state of his nation, the folk singer who reaches back through Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, the rock'n'roller who pays homage to the Shirelles and the Clash, to Dylan and Dion.

In an age of the three minute song (of which he is a master) he still spins out his into extended versions on stage, and every night under the lights is a commitment to take himself as far as he can for his music and his audience.

And at 60, he is still doing it.bruce1

In '74, critic Jon Landau famously wrote “I saw the rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen” but many forget what he wrote in the next sentence: “And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time”.

Springsteen never was the future – he was too grounded in the best rock'n'roll of the late 50s and early 60s – but there is still something about his songs and shows which live up to the last part of Landau's assertion.

Today however we hear Springsteen's songs as part of our own history, we can be transported by them to a place and a time we remember, even if in the case of his Dustbowl ballads and mythic America these are places we don't know for ourselves.

His songs often have a cinematic narrative into which we immerse ourselves. In some ways the very best of Bruce Springsteen is the very best of ourselves. His songs speak to those moments when we are at out most human: vulnerable, thoughtful, celebratory and part of the great collective into which his music makes us feel welcome.

Sales figues aside – and that perhaps explains them – that is quite something for a drop-out from Freehold, New Jersey to have achieved.

That is the redemption that rock'n'roll offers, and Bruce Springsteen at 60 is still living it out.

Share It

Your Comments

robe - Aug 10, 2010

With the much-anticipated release of a commemorative box set for Darkness on the Edge of Town slated for this Christmas, Bruce Springsteen's classic record is getting renewed attention in the music world. Details on the project are scarce; however, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Steven Van Zandt mentioned that about 10 unreleased songs will be included in the box set. Fans are surely hungry for any and all material they can get from the 1978 recording sessions and subsequent tour.

For our own preview of what's to come, we contacted Dick Wingate, who was intimately involved in the launch and marketing of the album and tour. He offers an insider's view of what the Darkness era meant to Bruce and the band, while painting an often-humorous behind-the-scenes account of some of the tour's highlights...check out the book The Light in Darkness, which one fan said, "… would also make a great companion piece to the much anticipated commemorative Darkness box set…"

Relic - Aug 11, 2010

Ah, the ‘boss’, even won over Glastonbury apparently. Great listened to in a moving car after midnite. Being Mrs Boss would be a good number!

post a comment

More from this section   Absolute articles index

SAM COOKE, GOSPEL INTO POP: The change was always gonna come

SAM COOKE, GOSPEL INTO POP: The change was always gonna come

At this distance, we can’t be expected to understand what the death of Sam Cooke in the sleazy Hacienda Motel in ’64 meant to black Americans. The former gospel singer was found... > Read more

ANTON FIER PROFILED (1988): A new career in a new town

ANTON FIER PROFILED (1988): A new career in a new town

Anton Fier was, until recently, a star without a bank account -- or manager come to that -- and yet at the nucleus of the hippest collection of New York’s avant-garde ever to hit vinyl.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: University of Auckland songwriter finalist Brayden Jeffrey

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: University of Auckland songwriter finalist Brayden Jeffrey

Every year Auckland University hosts a showcase for their talented music students. This year in addition to the five finalists for songwriter of the year there are also categories for best... > Read more

JOHN PSATHAS, 21st CENTURY MAN: The helix of creativity

JOHN PSATHAS, 21st CENTURY MAN: The helix of creativity

It seems entirely fitting that the final piece on New Zealand composer John Psathas' new album Helix should be dedicated to Jack Body, a composer like Psathas who has always looked outward as much... > Read more