Story 1995-04-07 New York City, NY

The transcript for the complete 90 minute interview, hosted by Ian "Molly" Meldrum in April 1995.

Q- Well first of all, I’ve gotta congratulate you on the other night, here in this building, I guess, somewhere - to have a private concert for about 300-400 people. What was it like being back with the E Street Band?

A- It was great. We played a couple of gigs about a month ago in a little bar here in New York in the course of shooting the video and it was interesting because the imprint of all the music we have played together is actually right at your fingertips but you think you don’t remember but you count off the song and get into it and it just comes back. But it was really interesting because we haven’t had the experience of playing together for years and its such a complex group of people with our history together being so deep at this point. We were just kids when we started and now everyone has grown into men and women so there is this long emotional history and then the separation so there was a lot of things we were carrying around on stage. It still feels as if I am able to do something with that particular group of people that I am not able to do on my own. They broaden my musical perspective sometimes just by being there. So its about a lot of that history together. I will look over there and see the guy I was with when I was twenty and I knew him when he got divorced or had babies or had his problems. The music is really a map of our lives and being back on stage one if the nicest things is that everyone really liked one another!

Q- It was really quite funny being in the audience because it was like watching a next door neighbour that you have seen growing up getting together and it was almost like peering through the window and seeing them have a good time again.

A- I think that demonstrates the importance of the band being a tangible bridge between my work and my audience. They were a physical manifestation of the community that that was all about and they brought my work in a very particular way and over the years the E Street Band became very deeply symbolic-and this feeling was partly intentional and it was probably also caused by the time we had spent together as the presence of the band became very important and symbolic for my audience and for me also. When we play together there is a certain world that does get created and I think that people do think like you have just expressed. The audience recognizes somebody up there and maybe they have a comparison with some experience in their own lives, maybe about the way you feel about this or that friend. The E Street band are the physical evidence of the community that I wrote about. Being musicians we travelled around a lot and we were young and away from our parents a lot and the community that I dreamed about in my songs are represented by the E Street band who broaden and explain the scope of my work.

Q- Even Patti seemed to be looking down like the mother very happy with the children that they were all getting along so fine.

A- Well, its just such a complicated situation and the people themselves are very unusual and complex people. Just take Patti and I- we’ve gone through so many changes since she got in the band. Originally she just got in the band as a singer and now here we are on stage and she is my wife and we now have kids together and in some way it makes a certain sort of sense. But the other night was different and everyone is older but it felt right. I look 10-15 years down the road and I just wish everyone would be so lucky as to have such a good group of friends around them. The separation has made everything very real again.

Q- It must make it stronger I would have thought.

A - Yes. In 1989, I had gotten into a place with the band that I just did not know what to do with them or myself. Some of us had spent, even then, twenty years together and I thought I ought to go out and see what happens next. So I called the guys and said that I wanted to go out and work with some other musicians. I said that I don’t really know what’s gonna happen next – who knows? It was tough and people went through a wide range of emotions about it but we stayed in touch over the years so the other night was pretty sweet.

Q- Over the years there have been many songs of yours that have touched the soul or the heart and the listener will have their own interpretation about what the song is about and what it may mean to them personally and for me, to see you perform "Streets of Philadelphia” brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me of friends and people I have known etc…I guess you wouldn’t have performed that many times on stage?

A- No, only once or twice but it’s a simple song to perform but a good one for the band to perform. When I sat down to think about writing for the band again it broadened my thoughts into writing into a more social area.

Q- To come up with just 18 tracks for the “Greatest Hits“ album must have been hard because I know how you agonize over what songs make it on albums.

A- Jon Landau will take the glory or the blame for that one! What we originally tried to do was a singles collection and with the exception of Thunder Road, everything else was a single but we still didn’t get everything on it. We never got “Blinded By the Light “on and we never had a single on the second album anyway.

Q- New York City Serenade is a great song.

A- Yeah but in those days my chances of getting on to commercial radio were next to none. So Jon wrote out a list of songs and with the exception of Prove It All Night, I think they all went on. But we knew that it would be a no win situation because everyone wants their favourites on. I wanted “Frankie” on it but it never happened. But I guess I wanted I record that young fans could go into the store and buy and get a taste of all the work that we have done over the past twenty years and learn a little bit about the band and get a feeling for some of the music without having to go back and get all the albums.

At this twelve minute mark of the interview, this seemed like the usual time to wind things up - Bruce had covered the reunion and had promoted the album. Instead, Molly threw his hail mary…

Q- I wonder if we could just look at the album track by track?

A- Sure

Q- The first track is of course, “Born To Run” from the 1975 album of the same name and over the years, so much as been written about this song and album that I guess that at times you must have hated recording that album?

A –Yeah, I was really young and insecure. One day I thought I was the greatest and the next day I thought I was worthless. My emotions were all over the place. Before I made “Greetings” I had never met anybody who had ever made an album so after that and after the Wild and the Innocent” which both only had very modest success, there was a lot of pressure on me during the Born To Run sessions. This wasn’t helped because I was trying to create something really special. I wasn’t a revolutionary like Bob Dylan or Elvis but I was synthesizing a lot of different elements and trying to pull together things that I wanted to get on my record along with the exhilaration of some of my own favourite rock and roll records. I wanted it to be physical but I wanted it to have some sort of intellect also and I was trying to get everything that I ever knew or heard of on to one record. I didn’t know if this was going be my last shot because I had a three album deal and this was my third album and I didn’t know if I would ever make another album again so I wanted to make that album really count. So in some way, when that album pushes you to go over the top that’s because of the desperation behind it.

Q- When you are writing do you take parts of different songs and combine them into a single song. Because “Born To Tun” itself seemed to have parts of “the Violent Ones” in it.

A- Really? Who did that?

Q- You did.

A- Really? You’re kidding me! I don’t remember it but I would like to hear it because it’s a good title. But…..really was it on a bootleg?

Q- Yeah, a 1972-75 one and that song seemed to have parts of “Born To Run” on it.

A- Really? I don’t remember that I usually remember the titles….

Q- Or “Wild Angels” it was called at one time?

A- Yeah, probably it did metamorphose out of something else because for example, “Thunder Road” was twice as long at one point and I know there are bootlegs of that out there. Because at the time I was getting dogged with “the new Bob Dylan thing “and I was trying to create my own vision.

Q- You’re a great Dylan fan I’m sure?

A- Oh man, still am, still am.

Q- Is it true that when your Mom first heard Dylan she said, “He can’t sing!“

A- Yes. He was on the radio and it was an interesting moment because up to then she was a big rock ‘n roll fan, mostly 50s and early 60s and we would agree about almost everything but with Bob, that was a big difference. And I think that may have been the intent of his records because he sang in a way that was simply not allowed on the radio previously. Bob fundamentally changed the way that pop singers could sound and opened the airwaves to all different and more regional and unique voices. Its similar in way that “Smells like Teen Spirit” here in the States recently because all of a sudden you could have noisy guitars again. So both Dylan and Nirvana are both artists who changed the rules of the game. So Bob was something that Mom and I both disagreed about at the time and it was a good break for me because at that time I was struggling to sing at all.

Q- I heard you were going to throw the finished “Born To Run“ album out and do a live version of the album at The Bottom Line?

A- Yeah. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was exhausted but the only thing I felt sure about was when we played it felt really true and I just didn’t really know how to make records at all. What was good about it though was that it made for very eccentric sounds. The “Born To Run” album doesn’t really sound like any other record I know of and I have never made another record that sounds like that. The funny thing is the record I was listening to at the time was Nils Lofgren’s first solo album and the way the drums sounded on that album was pretty influential as was the purity of the rock’n roll he had on it. So we were struggling to record that album. We were struggling to play in time –we were struggling to be musicians and I had sat a much higher standard for what I was trying to do on that record than we did on the first two albums. I wanted “Born To Run” to sound a particular way and Jon Landau, who became my friend and my producer was very influential in streamlining the sound. He had a very specific and austere sound that he thought the band could sound like. So it was very collaborative and I was very unsure about allowing anyone else’s influence on what I was doing because I was young and I thought that if I allowed someone to change it, that it might not be me any more. So there was all kinds of stress and pressure going on.

Q- There are two tracks from the Born to Run sessions on the Greatest Hits albums, the title track and Thunder Road and you were quoted as saying you wanted to make a great rock record.

A- Yeah –I wanted to make the greatest rock record that had ever been made. I had plenty or arrogance and ambition in that area. I was rolling the dice so I wanted to do something that was going to be definitive so I had my eyes set on a pretty bug target.

Q- Was Thunder Road originally called “Glory Road”?

A- That title sounds familiar. That sounds right. Was that on another bootleg?

Q- No. Your original title was “Glory Land”.

A- The title of “Thunder Road” came from a Robert Mitchem movie that was very strange and eccentric that I think he put together himself. I think he produced it and he both sang and wrote the title song. Its actually a very good picture about running moonshine in the southern United States in the 50’s. It’s a film noir and he is fantastic in it and his son is in too. He plays his brother. I was a big Mitchem fan and I wanted out band to sound like thunder; I wanted to feel that power but I‘m not sure if that song started out as “Glory Road” or not but the title came out of the Mitchem picture.

Q- Did you try and sing like Roy Orbison on “Thunder Road”?

A- Yes. I was fanatically listening to Roy at the time and I wanted to sing a big throated vocal from deep in my chest. But there will never be a voice like his again.

Q- What was it like to sing together?

A- That was a huge thrill for me. He was one of my heroes for so long and he was a very sweet, thoughtful and generous man with me.

Q- Did the success of Born To Run frighten you?

A- Yes but of course, you pursue success at some level but we made the music we wanted to make and I made it uncompromisingly. I wanted my work to have an impact and I wanted to reach an audience. I believe in rock music as popular music in that something happens when good music reaches a large audience when, despite their differences, people find a common ground. All of my favourite Motown and Dylan and soul records were big hit records that you heard on the radio and they were music for the people; music for everybody. I wanted that kind of impact and I wanted to see where I would take it to but the first time it hits -you might not be ready for it. I always knew I wanted to be a musician but you can never be sure you are ever going to have that kind of success. Its very destabilizing because all of a sudden there is a lot more people in your life and a dynamic occurs concerning something inherently personal that you no longer have control over. It has a life of its own and many wonderful things happen to you but some things you would rather do without. So at the beginning you try to find a balance which is a bit like the first time you step on to a surfboard; in six months or a year you will be OK but the first few months, you are up and down and all over the place. But at least I did have the E Street Band around me and we were a group of friends who had grown up in small towns but had never travelled out of the United States. So when I walked down the street and saw some big poster, the guys were a very stabilizing force. I should have probably jumped for joy but at the time I had not established myself and I was frightened of my music being co-opted in a way that wasn’t what it was meant to be about and this is a challenge for all new young bands when they take that first big step into the spotlight.

Q- You have always been a big Elvis fan. Was he an example of how not to control the fame?

A- Well, you worry that can’t even control yourself much less anything else ! And even when it happened again in 1985 and I was 35, there were moments when I thought, “OK, this is too much, now.” But you have the stories and the maps of the people who came before and they guide you whether it be Elvis, Dylan or even a one hit wonder.

Q- You have been quoted as saying that by the time of “Badlands” you understood your song writing better.

A- Well after I had the initial success, a lot of it was positive but some of it was controversial because the record company was laying it on hot ‘n heavy, and people were saying that I was just a creation of the record company. You wonder you are going to lose yourself and at the time you feel irreparably damaged, used and abused. Of course every artist feels that they are losing control of their work at some point but it does have a life of its own and then you are forced to react and how well you react becomes a big part of what your story is going to be.

Q- How did you parents react to your success following Born to Run and later Born In the USA?

A- My parents moved to California when I was 19 and I stayed in New Jersey and lived with the band. Until Born to Run, I didn’t really have the money to visit them or even phone that much. So there was a period when I was distant from my folks and I was trying to fashion myself and lead a very stripped down existence with an intense focus and my concern after the Born To Run record was – “OK, what are you going to do now ? “ So I started to develop a more self conscious philosophy about the type of music I wanted to make and who I wanted to write about and give voice to that was going to set the path for the rest of my career. I wanted my music to be about real issues and about real lives – exhilarating and entertaining –but grounded in what real people were experiencing everyday. So that was the beginning of “Darkness” but then I went through some bad times and couldn’t record and had the law suit so a long period then happened when I was back in New Jersey, in the bars and writing my redemption music. Previously, I hadn’t really thought about my family life and my roots but after I had that initial success I grabbed on to those things for all they were worth because they were the values that I wanted my music to remain grounded in. So on Darkness, I started to very purposefully write about my family and my hometown and the limitations of real life.

Q- The River sessions were in 1979-1980 and you have said that the title track was a real breakthrough song for you?

A- Yes. I had been listening to a lot of country music but in particular, Hank Williams and his writing became very important to me because of the great writing. His imagery was so stark, dramatic and raw and I wanted to write about the classic American images. I had written about cars and there is great rock images in car songs associated with “girls “and “Saturday night” and I wanted to address those images in my own way. But I also wanted to include the country references and the sense of geography, location and place that the characters would grow out of. The difference between rock ‘n roll and country music is that rock’n roll is Saturday night but country music is Sunday morning when you are left with the consequences because freedom always has its consequences and the price your going to pay for it. So I wanted my music to have both the exhilaration of Saturday night but I wanted to address the truth that these things all have a price. I also wanted to write about Monday to Friday which is the work week where people spend so much of the time. So I wanted my work to address all of these things.

Q- There are two tracks from those sessions on the album. “The River” which is a great track and “Hungry Heart.”

A- “Hungry Heart” was going to be my great hit single. To me it was just like a Frankie Lyman song, something that you would hear popping out of the radio in the middle of summer, with the harmonies and the sounds sparkling in a certain way. As much as I was influenced by Elvis and Dylan there was also all of the garage bands and the one hit wonders. I loved that whole world of pop music and I initially wrote “Hungry Heart” for The Ramones. I met them in Asbury Park on a Friday night and they asked me to write them a single and I probably wouldn’t have written it for myself because it was too pop sounding. I went home and wrote it pretty quickly. So I played to Jon and he said. “No –you better keep that one!” As a kid I had followed the pop charts and it was fun to be part of that world.

Q- So it gave you a buzz to hear it on the radio.

A- Oh yeah, that’s one of the greatest things to hear something new you wrote come on the radio. To follow the pop charts when I was young was the most subversive part of life in a small time where nobody went anywhere and if they did they didn’t come back. There was no kids on television at the time except the most bizarrely sanitized versions of kids that you knew wasn’t real. But the radio kept pumping in music that was subversive that made you behave and think differently and made you want to be someone different. It filled you with a certain kind of vitality that can be positive but also dangerous to.

Q- A song that is still relevant today is “Out in The Street”.

A- That is a song that is the closest I have ever got to Beatles structures. With Born to Run, I was writing Orbison type songs that developed operatically in sections which were not repeated and where everything led up to a crescendo. But with Darkness I started to write more folk based songs which spoke with simple, direct and plain images.

Q- It is a great song.

A- To be truthful, when I wrote it I was trying to copy one of my all time favourite songs, “Friday On My Mind” by the Easybeats. I have always loved that song. The structure on that is just incredible and it had that unbelievable exhilaration when they broke into the chorus. You know, its Friday and you are out of school or out of work and you’re just “Out there!” In my town, there was a particular place you drove to on Friday that was filled with teenagers and “Out In the Street” was my attempt at that writing about that image but with a Beatles type structure.

Q- After The River sessions we have “Atlantic City” from Nebraska. That was an album recorded in your home?

A- I did that because I was tired of spending so much money in the studio where we spent such a lot of time making mistakes or recording things I never used. It got frustrating, so I said I am not going to go in until I know the songs are good. I got a new teak tape recorder and used two mikes and sat in my bedroom. Most of the tracks are one or two takes and the whole thing was done in three days. I mixed it on a Gibson beat box that taped two fast so I carried it around as a demo and took into the studio and tried to play it with the band but it didn’t work out. It was no good. So then I tried to re- record it solo in the studio which felt really weird because the better it sounded the worse it was. So I decided, well however it happened in my bedroom – that’s it!

Q- Sometimes demos do sound better..

A- Most of the time they really do. You leave certain things alone and that’s why I have made a lot of records in my house because it can capture that moment of creation when you are relying on your instincts and teaching yourself the songs based on the craft you have learned and it is often the most direct and most honest rendering of your work.

Q- What was the record company’s reaction when you took Nebraska in to them?

A- Well, it was kinda weird in that I had just had a successful record and it had a hit which we had never had before. The Nebraska songs were meant to be the Born In the USA album. Originally there was just going to be that one album and tea actual demo tape of Nebraska was so strange that it wouldn’t at first even transfer on to a record. So we thought we are going to have to put this out on just a cassette and were really ready to do that and finally after a long process, Charlie Plotkin found some old mastering equipment but it was really down to the wire. So I then brought it to the record company and I said “…this is it. This is my music right now.” And I have gotta salute the guys at my record company who were tremendous. They just said “OK”. They were really supportive and I have been very fortunate in the support they have given me for almost my entire career. So I went back and worked on the “Born In the USA record. As I did that, the “Nebraska” album came out and it got a little airplay but not a lot but I expected that.

Q- Fans love the Nebraska album. Its great that in performance that a song like “Atlantic City” stays simple.

A- With that song, I was again trying to write thematically. I was reading a lot of Flannery O’Connor and there were a couple of movies out at the time that had a certain tone that I liked. There was a movie by Terrence Malick called “Badlands” with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek about the Charlie Starkweather killings. It was like the real “Natural Born Killers” and so minimalist pictures like this affected the tone of my music. Also at the time, the country was swinging to the right but when I sat down I didn’t have any particular political motivation in mind but I was interested in telling those stories.

Q- When you were talking earlier about Dylan and Nirvana, you very modestly left yourself out….

A- Yes, it’s the great false modesty that I have perfected!

Q- Yes, but did you were aware that you were now indeed having an influence then?

A- I think the main thing was that I wanted to have an opportunity to influence and in 1985, I got the opportunity to travel around and shine a light on a lot of people who were doing great work within the audience’s home town and give a different vision of my country than was being provided by the people who were in power at the time. The earliest rock music had political implications but when I was young I never liked people preaching at me and for a while I didn’t think there was a place for it in my music. But I was trying deal with it thematically but I had a big audience at that time and I was able to provide an alternate vision that we were semi-successful at sometimes. (53.26)

Q- “Born In The USA” seems like another era for the band.

A- That was a time when we had a chance to be definitive and to mess with the rules of the game. Its something all artists would like to do. At that time, I knew I had written a powerful song, which I knew would communicate with my audience, but I didn’t know just how much. It was certainly one of the most challenging moments of my work life. What happened in 75 happened again in 85 but this time I was older and more able to deal with it in a saner fashion and it didn’t frighten me anywhere near as much – though I still felt I had be really on my toes.

Q- It must have been disorientating for a musician who wrote about American life to have politicians now refer to your work?

A- It was probably the only moment in my adult life that I wished I had stayed in school. Not as an alternate occupation but I wished I had more education and had, for example, studied history more closely. I was reading a lot of history in 1984-85 but when you set something that big lose, it has a life of its own. The party that was in power at the time had co-opted everything American as its own. If it was the flag –it belonged to the right. If it was mom’s apple pie, it was only baked by Republicans and everybody else was “the other”. You were outside and you didn’t even get a chance to spoil the party because you were not invited to it. So what I wanted to do with my music when I performed it was to claim my own flag and stake my own claim to those images that I felt were mine by birthright. I thought I could give some kind of alternative vision to what the country could be about but the whole thing was pretty jingoistic and it was a pretty intense time.

Q- As an outsider, not an American, it has always fascinated me to see Black Americans, Korean Americans, Hispanic Americans or whatever of how proud they are to be American when they hear the national anthem or the flag, more so than a lot of other countries have. Its like “America-one for all…”

A- Actually, Australians do pretty well at that as well…

Q- Its fascinating how it all comes together and “Born In the USA” seemed to have that pride….

A – Yes it did have that in it but maybe that is why some people misinterpreted some of it. But along with that there was that character’s pride and determination to be noticed and to claim a part of that for himself. Those issues are tricky…they are dynamite and they are constantly being abused by jingoistic flag waving and nationalism which is very, very destructive. There are so many grey areas in that whole subject where you can stumble and that was running through the country at the time and I was putting in my two cents worth to claim that feeling for myself because that’s how I felt and also because I had created a body of work based on characters who had been left out. In “Born In the USA”, the character is a Vietnam veteran who comes home and is so disillusioned and rightly so because the system has failed him. It’s the same in Australia because I met quite a few of the Vietnam Vets down there in ’85. So he comes home and he feels betrayed so he is now searching for some piece of America that he can lay claim to. He just wants to find one small spot of honest ground to restart his life on. That song is basically about survival and that guy now has to create some sort of country for himself now.

Q- That song was and is, a real breakthrough for so many guys…

A- I met some of those guys here in the States and the initial organization was the VFW – “the Veterans from Foreign wars” including the veterans from Korea, and these guys didn’t have a lot in common with a generation that had grown up while they were away or in training. They took a lot of shit, people calling them “losers’ and I met this guy called Bobby Muller who said that the Vietnam Veterans needed an organization of their own and he was in the process of setting up an organizations called “Vietnam Veterans for America”. Bobby came to one of the shows and asked if I would help get the ball rolling. I also met by accident, Ron Kovic who wrote “Born On the 4th of July”. I was in a little hotel in California and this guy was sitting by the side of the pool and it was him and I told him I had just read his book. But with that song, I was always afraid of getting it wrong. I was an outsider and I didn’t know anything about what was a profound shaping experience for anyone who went through it, so I was very concerned with trying to get it right.

Q- Track 7 is “Dancing In the Dark” and I’ve gotta tell you, the video had me fooled for a long time.

A- Me too!

Q- It was a great song and a very clever video.

A- I don’t know how clever it was. I showed up and it happened but I don’t know how. Except for “Atlantic City” that was our first video and I want dragging and screaming into the video experience. I didn’t really want to do it but it had become part of the job at the time. It was a funny song because we had done the whole of the “Born in the USA” record and Jon Landau said “We don’t have a hit”. I replied, “Well, I don’t care if we don’t have a hit. If you want a hit, you write it.” But I sat around that night and wrote it and again it was the idea of having a big radio hit and yet it was one of the most personal songs on the album because I was actually writing about me and how I was feeling at the time. It was a record that later on I said, “I don’t know about that one – its just too pop. I’m not so sure…” But we played it and it did sound pretty good and Jon and I had one of our yearly pop v rock arguments around it.

Q- It also set the them for the 1984-85 tour because it attracted a new audience.

A- yes– that it did because there were people who had never heard our other music who I had never seen before.

Q- Well, you also see it in the sense of a combining of the new and old Bruce Springsteen audiences.

A- And they left straight after that to! But it was pretty different because all of a sudden I saw a lot of really young kids and a whole lot of different kinds of people which I liked because I had been playing for 15 years or so and all of a sudden I saw old fans with kids on their shoulders. I always wanted our band to be a vessel that would help our audience understand their community and some of the things in their lives but I also wanted it to be a party and entertainment and I think a lot of people came out for the whole thing.

Q- I think it achieved both and with Dancing in the Dark, Born In the USA and My Hometown, you dealt with all of those themes which combined to make it a great record –not to mention a huge selling album. Glory Days is another great track.

A- That was me meeting a guy as I used to go to school with as I was going into a bar and he was coming out. We both said “Hey – how yer going?” , and we went back in and sat down and the song basically happened. It was easy to write –it just came flying out.

Q- Is it true that you wrote a verse about your Dad in Glory Days which you later did not use?

A- No I only remember those three verses but you know more than me so maybe! <ref>
The extra verse in the early outtake of "Glory Days":
My old man worked 20 years on the line and they let him go
Now everywhere he goes out looking for work they just tell him that he's too old
I was 9 years old when he was working at the Metuchen Ford plant assembly line
Now he just sits on a stool down at the Legion Hall, but I can tell what's on his mind

Q- I love the “Tunnel of Love “ album. Tell me about “Brilliant Disguise”?

A- After 1985, I needed to take stock and see where I had been successful and also where I had failed. I needed to regroup and re-introduce myself to the fans as a songwriter but at the same time there were a lot of issues in my own life that I had not sorted out and I wanted to write about men and women which was a subject I had not really written about very much. I also thought that a lot of that stuff had not really bee written about in pop music that much. Most of it was very romantic but Bob’s romantic music was always very complex and fundamentally adult because he came out of the folk tradition. I also wanted to write very adult love songs about things which dealt with the real compromises and issues which are involved when you have a real relationship with somebody. I originally wrote it in a couple weeks in my garage.

Q- Originally, I think you went to LA?

A- No- I wrote a series of songs in my little house in the hills in LA in the winter immediately after the Born in the USA tour. Those songs have never seen the light of day and are still sitting around. This record really started when I went back and set up in my garage in Jersey and I recorded it there.

Q- We move on to the Human Touch sessions in 1990-91. These songs were recorded when your children were born?

A- Yeah. After the Tunnel of Love tour I was going through all of my personal problems and I took a lot of time off to find out exactly what I was doing with myself. I had had a lot of success with my work but I was a mess and totally confused otherwise. So I took a year off and then started to record when I finally felt like I wanted to start working again. But the whole period was really a hiatus where I was trying to centre myself and create a life that I had never had off stage. I wanted a life that would work and was meaningful.

Q- Roy was around on that?

A- Yes- he came up with “Roll of The Dice“ but I had recorded a few things before that.

Q- David Sancious came back as well?

A- Yes –he played on a few things and this was an opportunity that I wanted. I had the exhilaration of working with different musicians and Davy was around and he was always a great player so he came in and played a little bit. So we just chipped away on it until we came up with something that we felt was releasable.

Q- And then came “Lucky Town”

A- Well I was trying to write one last song for “Human Touch” but out came “Living Proof” and it sounded completely different to me. And then in two weeks I wrote the rest of those songs. What happened on “Human Touch” was that we had a very controlled recording process and it was very much a “studio record”. By the end of it, I wasn’t sure about some of it and the “Lucky Town“ record was a reaction to it. I just went over to my house, set up my acoustic guitar and that record developed literally in a month after we finished the “Human touch” record. So we ended up with two records.

Q- I caught a concert you did on that tour in Paris. A fantastic show- did you enjoy that first tour without the E Street Band?

A- Yes, I did enjoy it, particular the European tour. The musicians were not only great players but they were very nice people who came from very different backgrounds. Zac was rock, Shayne was R&B, one woman was a gospel singer another was a pop singer. Bobby King was a soul singer. Tommy Sims was from funk –so you had all of these different type of people all in one place. We would get on the bus and switch the beat-box around and everybody would play the type of music they grew up with, so you were exposed to all different types of music which was a very stimulating type of thing. And this was what I was looking for. The E Street Band fellows and I all have relatively the same musical background and that’s what made that strong but I wanted to do something where people came from different places musically and geographically and see how that worked together.

Q- You once did 32 songs in Sydney… (March 28, 1985)

A- Maybe it was too long?

Q- No it was great but you played in stinking hot weather in Paris in 1993 for almost as long.

A- I like it when it is hot. It greases the wheels and everybody gets hot and sticky and start smashing together and the sweats flying. To me that’s what it was all about. I used to love the to see the great soul performers sweat it out! My music was never a cool thing. It was never coming from a cool place. But in a long show, you learn how to conserve your energy.

Q- “Streets of Philadelphia” is up next from a great film.

A- I recorded it in my house in Jersey. Jonathan Demme wanted a rock song but I had seen the part of the film that the song was to be played over and this was going to introduce the character before the film actually began so a ballad felt right to me.

Q- We have discussed “Born to Run” and how its success had frightened you….

A- Yes but it can be a wonderful experience also watching the impact that your work has on peoples lives. At the end it is a good deal but it can be a strange ride.

Q- Secret Garden is a beautiful song.

A- It’s a song about relationship and it was meant to connect back to a song like “Brilliant Disguise”. When any two people get to know each other, it involves letting down your defences and that can be frightening.

Q- And “This Hard Land”

A- Its about those themes I discussed earlier when we were talking about “Born in the USA” which is when I wrote it. Its about someone trying to find a place –trying to build his life but its also about friendship – just as “Blood Brothers” is really a song about my friendship with The E Street band. Look – we better go soon or you’ll be lynched by these women over there. (points behind)

Let me interview you, what would you have put on this album?

Q- Maybe something from the first two albums but I can see why you didn’t. Anyway, thanks for keeping your integrity and get back in the studio!

A- I will. Shit this has been a work out!

Thanks to Beazle @ BTX for the transcript.

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