Bruce Springsteen is a legend, a man at the very epicentre of his own stories whether he’s playing to a select few on Broadway or he’s making the foundations of a football stadium shake with an exhilarating E Street Band show. The audience may change in size and geographic location but the stories remain the same and the people who come to see him listen and love every minute. And then they come back for more because year after year Bruce Springsteen delivers. There is plenty that Google can tell us about his career from when he formed to who is in his band to his live performances but for now let’s take a look at him as an artist. He reigns supreme and as relevant and powerful today as the day he first walked out on a stage As he himself says from the first time he saw Elvis Presley and then The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 this was his chosen path. It’s clear this was his mission in life…..a man on a mission is quite the understatement!
For decades he has sustained the most loyal of followers who stay with him because they see an artist who genuinely enjoys what he does and who’s not just turning up to earn a fat paycheck. Here’s a guy who clearly doesn’t need the money, nor does he need the adulation. He’s a man comfortable in his own skin yet the one thing that keeps him going is the love he has for his work. His work may look like an indulgence of fun but the level of commitment to remain consistent at this level can break many an artist. And over the years it has. It’s an industry surrounded by people who rely on you for a living, they need you to keep working and some ( not all) will do all they can to keep the machine in motion. He comes out on stage and he genuinely looks pleased to see you and that isn’t something an artist always understands. As a performer, it’s a rare skill and something any budding artist should identify if they’re intent on building a career. I think that’s apparently not only with Bruce but also with U2. If you connect with your audience from your first show you can carry it through but if you don’t identify that and try and rectify it later on in your career it’s likely your audience has already left you for someone else. It’s like dating, you don’t pay your partner enough attention and they’re gone!
I have a personal love for storytellers because of their desire to let you into their world. Instead of hiding behind a cacophony of sound he bares his soul in his stories, he’s open and he’s honest and you can identify with his vulnerability growing up. He talks about it as if it’s his catharsis and he understands the reason for his success. He’s older and he’s wiser and while he has taken chances in his career he’s never faltered through over indulgences, he’s made the records he’s needed to at the times he had to. That’s the very same reason why I love Neil Young and Bob Dylan and that’s why I love Bruce. If you want to hear an amazing story about the making of ‘Nebraska’ then do yourself a favour and read Walter Yetikov’s “Howling at the Moon’. A brilliant read from the guy who ran Columbia Records at that time. It’s an insider’s look and it allows you to understand the relationship between the artist and the label and how to make things work.
Loyalty is what sustains a career and that means loyalty both ways. A fan deserves value for money and an artist owes them that. For Bruce Springsteen to spend a five night a week, year long pilgrimage on Broadway at this time of his career is staggering. Frankly, who could deny him a little time off when for over forty-five years he has probably played as many shows as anyone…with the possible exception of Bob Dylan. And it is here on Broadway, clad in jeans and a loose-fitting top he ambles onto the stage to tell the audience the stories of his life while accompanying them with the songs of significance. Springsteen has written anthems, played in stadiums throughout the world and probably encouraged a small army to buy a guitar and sing. And now he’s out close and personal because he loves his people.
As he approaches 70 those three-hour shows are not going to be as easy but Bruce, long may you run. You were born to.