Story 2020-10-19 Springsteen Residence, Colts Neck, NJ
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The Zane Lowe Show Interview

Zane Lowe: Let me start by saying what a thrill it is to finally meet you

Bruce Springsteen: Thank you.

Zane Lowe: I wish that we could do it face to face, obviously.

Bruce Springsteen: Jesus.

Zane Lowe: Yeah.

Bruce Springsteen: Me too, me too.

Zane Lowe: And I've decided the beanie's off, the beanie's off. I need to get the beanie off.

Bruce Springsteen: Alright, I like the, I like the real you.

Zane Lowe: This year has been so challenging for the for the human spirit, for what it is to be human. And, and everyone I know including myself has kind of I think struggled with this idea of stillness, here, while chaos ensues out there. And for someone who absorbs and translates and transcribes the human condition so beautifully, I wonder kind of how you have adapted just to get the ball rolling at home in the last eight months.

Bruce Springsteen: Alright, let's start with an easy one. Uh… I'm like everybody else, man. So I'm like everybody else. I've been taking it a day at a time. And uh… that's, that's all you can do really, you know. I haven't had any uh, uh, I haven't had any particular secret as how to deal with the whole thing, you know. We just, you know, Patty and I we, we literally just been taking it a day at a time, doing what we can, you know. We were lucky and that we uh, made our record and, and shot the film with it a few months before the virus hit. So, I had something to do.

Zane Lowe: Yeah.

Bruce Springsteen: And I could do it with, I could do it with a relatively small group of people, you know. So that, that helped a lot. So I've been able to stay busy, which help, which has helped. But it's, it's just been, it's just been a day at a time like everybody else. I don't have any, I don't have any great wisdom that's how to get through, get through whatever this is that we've been going through, you know.

Zane Lowe: What a gift this album is. I'm so grateful and I think everyone will be very grateful to receive this album this year. You know, when I think about it, when I listened to it for the first time I was immediately transported to a place that I know and love that I wanted to hear again, which is this idea of you and the band coming together and just getting out of your own way and just allowing that chemistry and what is special about you as a band and as friends come to be.

Bruce Springsteen: You know, it's, it's a, it was, it was a great project for us because I don't think we've ever played live together in the studio and then kept everything that we did on the full take. All the singing, all the playing, it's really, it's the E Street Band really completely live, and I over dubbed a few solos and things. But it's, it's really, it's really the band uh, uh, in one shot. So that's- we've played live in the studio before but never kept everything. Always gone back in and overdubbed a vocal or overdubbed, you know, put other things on. So it was uh, uh, it, it was a, a great experience for the guys and it was a testament to how good the band has gotten and how better it continues to get over the years, both in the studio and out, you know. So it was, it was a lot of, a lot of fun. And of course seeing the guys is always great and it was just a, a great experience for everybody that was involved, you know.

Zane Lowe: Why do you think it's taken you this long uh, to, to get to that point in your process, to get, to get with the band in the room and feel like you can capture that live recording and it's good enough for us to hear.

Bruce Springsteen: I don't know, you know, you get involved with all different kinds of projects that happen in a lot of different kinds of ways. For quite a while I simply began to demo all my music because I got tired of going into the studio and writing 30 songs and having, you know, five of them be okay and, and uh… So I started to demo everything. But once I started to demo everything I realized I really got locked into those demos. And, so then I was kind of working in, in… either the records became sort of solo records or different types of projects. And so uh… this was the first thing where… when I came up with a group of songs relatively very quickly and I said, well, smart thing to do is to not demo them and let the band come in and just wash straight into them, you know. And uh, and I also knew I wanted to do a band project. Uh, it'd been really quite a while since we done, since I really put the put the band together and, and let them play in the studio. And so, uh, it was just, it's all just timing and, and what happens and where you are in different places in your life, and uh, everything comes along and it's time. So uh, it was just a uh, good moment for it.

Zane Lowe: Is it a gut feeling? Do you sit there when you're listening to these songs and go, "I need to hear the band fire these up. I need to hear what they can do around these." Or is it like, to some degree, "It's time for us to get together because if I don't then the nature of this relationship may start to change if I don't continue to Keep the wheel turning."

Bruce Springsteen: There is some of that, you know. You, you do need to, you've got to touch base creatively every so often just to keep everything alive and, and humming and the relationships up and good and uh… Uh, so there is, there is some of that going. And it's also, like I say, what, what happens with the nature of the material and the project you're doing, you know. This material, the songs came very quickly in about seven to ten days. We made the record, really we made the record in four days and, and on the fifth day we kind of listened to everything. And uh, it was, it was just uh… But you do have to, you do have, everything has to be nurtured and, and… even though the E Street Band's been together for a long time, still, it's still the same, you know. You gotta get back together, you've got to uh…

Zane Lowe: Yeah

Bruce Springsteen: Nurture those relationships and you've got to play together. Yeah, and you've got to, you know, the, the playing together ultimately is what we're, what we're there for and, and what, you know, it's the foundation of who we are together and so, uh, you've got to touch base with that every, every so often.

Zane Lowe: I mean it's really clear when you listen to this album or any of the music that you've made with E Street Band or any of the shows that you've played live, countless shows with the band that, the, the musical shorthand you have is second to none, that there's a, you know, an unspoken communication that exists between you musically through the spirit of how you play. Um, but that's only one side of the work. There also - and I, and I am obsessed with your dynamic with the E Street Band because the joy it's given me as a fan and the fact that it comes and goes in these stages and most people hold on to things, they never let it go, and you had the courage to let it go so it comes home. So I wonder when it comes home whether or not there has to be moments where things are addressed on a normal communication level like, "Man I wish I've played on that record, or…" You know what I mean? And you have to face those things down because these are real human beings and they love to play with you.

Bruce Springsteen: Well I always know the guys like to work. So, uh, that's sort of unspoken. But they also know I, I do work on my own and, and on certain projects and it's just the natural ebb and flow of, of, of our lives together.

Zane Lowe: Did it take a while to establish that ebb and flow though? I mean, like, going back, and not only to go back briefly at this point in context of the question, but that decision after one of your most successful records and your first taste of success with the band where everybody just wanted that back in "Born To Run," to have the bravery to turn around and say. "Look, I need to flow. The ebb will come later." You know, did it take a while for the band to understand? Because I would imagine the normal human reaction would have been, "This is working, why can't we just keep going?"

Bruce Springsteen: Well, in truth if, if I had had some very creative ideas that involved continuing sort of working with the band as, as I had been doing I would have done something. But I got to a place where, it was really after "Born In the U.S.A." where we had our greatest success, and the first thing I did- well I don't wanna chase that horse, you know. The guys, you see, then end up trying to uh, "Ok the next record's gotta be bigger," or the, or… Uh, it's, it's, it's not the healthiest way to go. You know, you're, you're better off following your muse, and immediately after "Born In the U.S.A." I wanted to make a smaller record. I made it over the top of my garage, me and one other guy. And uh, I played all the instruments myself and - the record called "Tunnel Of Love". And so I immediately wanted to reintroduce myself as a singer and a songwriter, and I wasn't interested in, in sort of bettering, you know, what we'd done with "Born In the U.S.A." or anything else. It's a losing game whenever you get into that, that particular uh, that particular approach. So after that we, the band took quite a long break, uh ten years, we really didn't play together for ten years. And I was just having, you know, I had my family and raising my children when they were very young and uh, you know, trying some other things and just, just sorting, just looking around to see who I was going to be, you know, after we had that big success. And so uh, uh… but then the relationships proved themselves both creatively and emotionally by just- you know, there came a point in time where I said, "Well, I miss the guys, let's see if the guys miss me." And we eventually started to work together again. And it's been the best last, last twenty years, which is what we've, it's been now, it's been twenty years since the band really got back together, has, have been the greatest of our, uh, performing and, uh, lives. You know, so it's, it's been a blessing.

Zane Lowe: I mean this album is a, is a triumph, you know. And as I said before, and I hope you take this as a, as a compliment, I am such a fan of, of everything that you've gone on throughout your life and applied yourself to creatively and the way that you've balanced what we love about you and what we insatiably want from you versus what you're willing to give, which is, "When I show up I'm committed, when I'm not I'm out the picture. Understand that." And you've mastered that I think. But this album feels like all of that restlessness that has been wrapped up in your journey has just come home, for a brief moment, has just come home to this thing that people know and love so well. And I wonder if you loved that once you gave, once you gave in to that and knew it was going to feel like something we love and feel familiar, whether you loved it, given that your history suggests that you reject elements of that.

Bruce Springsteen: Well, yeah you go through different phases and, and… You know, I went through long periods of phase where I, I just, whatever it was I just did I don't wanna sound like that. But we kinda came to a place we said, "Well gee this is material that, that I want to sound like the E Street Band, what, what, you know, or my, my idea that, you know, I wanted the pianos and I wanted, we've got a little glockenspiels in there…

Zane Lowe: And even structurally, like the big pauses where it stops and you think it's gonna end, and I, and in my mind when, when you finally get to play live it's just gonna be like, "One two three four!" back end, you know what I mean? You just know it's gonna come back.

Bruce Springsteen: This is great material to play live so it's, it's very painful to not be able to go out and play right now because this is material that'll play incredible on stage. And so, uh, I was really just all in on wanting, on wanting the record to, to, I wanted to go back to a style… probably closest you'd have to go back was to maybe "Born To Run," you know, where, where I let, I gave Roy free reign on the piano, and uh, the arrangements were, the songs fit those kinds of arrangements. And so it was a lovely modern revisitation of that style, you know.

Zane Lowe: Yeah big, just big and heartfelt and spiritually alive and words are beautiful. And, you know, reference points to things that we've heard you pull from before from, you know, your palette, your mood board of, of images and characters and, it all just really ties together into what I think is a big, is, is one big story. And one of the things that I wondered before we moved into the album specific is, in pulling the E Street Band back together, and to some degree getting back to that space of what you sound like, or what you sounded like when you instinctively began, it's the natural place that you fit into, right? This is what we really sound like at the heart of it before we decide to change or move.

Bruce Springsteen: Right.

Zane Lowe: Whether, whether playing together over those four days to some degree allowed you to begin to cross a bridge together and fill in the spaces emotionally that had been hard to address because two of your brothers, three friends, and I'm sure maybe others, but in particular two of your brothers from the E Street Band aren't playing on this particular record, and whether or not you acknowledge that this was an important part of that process?

Bruce Springsteen: Well you know you still experience the loss of, of, of Clarence and Danny, you know. That's just, like I say, they're, they're members in absentia. They'll never not be members of the band. And, and, so, uh, it's always corny to say but they are always there in spirit and, uh, you know, they, they, they revisit your process in, in, in their own, in their own mysterious ways that, that, that, those of our friends who've passed stay with us and do. And the record has got quite a bit to do with, you know, there's part of its subtext is there's some aging and, and loss of, of, of people as time goes by and that's, that's uh, uh, that's a part of what the record is. And, and uh, and then at the same time, you know, you sort of celebrating the fact that the band goes on and we carry their spirits with us and uh… The, the, the impetus for a lot of the material was the loss of my good friend George Thiess who was the last, him and I were the last members of my very first band. So when he passed away it left me as the only remaining living member of the first band that I had, which was a very strange and uh, uh, thought and it, it gave rise to most of the material that's on "Letter To You," you know. Uh, it's sort of a, a reflection and a meditation on time passing and loss of friends and, and, and, and how that affects you as, you as you grow older.

Zane Lowe: And it begins with a song called "One Minute You're Here," which is just a beautiful opening to the album. And also in terms of arrangement and musicality is so lovingly nurtured by the band as you're finding this thought. It's almost like you're being surrounded by them in this moment and they're just, they're just there with you whilst you're capturing this thought and sharing it. The idea of mortality is not really something that rock and roll was built to address. Rock and roll is to be timeless and to run and chase and experience and stare down and fight and love and all of those things. And yet you've made this stirring rock and roll record that addresses these ideas. And I wonder sort of how it felt as these songs were pouring out of you and you were getting out of the way of them, because it doesn't sound like there was a lot of over analysis going on here that it felt, it was really coming from the heart.

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah, I mean the songs were written very quickly. So uh, I didn't spend a lot of time on them. They were all written, each one was written in, you know, a day or two. And they came quite naturally. So that was, that's always nice when that happens. "One Minute You're Here" is, it's a little bit of a preface to the record, you know. It's, it's unusual to start a record with its quietest song. And uh, but it felt like, okay the record really starts with "Letter To You," but there's this little preface about, that lets you know what the record is going to, uh, uh, encompass. You know, the emotional feel that it's going to, to deal in. And the record starts with, with "One Minute You're Here" and then ends with "I'll See You In My Dreams," which are both songs, songs about mortality and uh, and death. It was just sort of uh, a little, a little tip of the hat to where, where uh, where the record was gonna go, and, and a little, it's slightly connected to "Western Stars." So it was a little tran-, a little transitional piece of music.

Zane Lowe: At what point in your life as you were going from family to album to tour - and, and that's, those are kind of the three points, right? That, that, that if you could look at it in terms of as a shape that define the musical life. At what point did you realize that life is actually short?

Bruce Springsteen: Life is, is, is short but long, you know. So, so uh, obviously the older you get the shorter it seems, you know. So, you know, I feel, hey I'm, I'm just in the middle of it, you know. I'm feeling good, and, and the band is, is ripping and, and uh, you know, we're going through this crazy time period, but we're keeping our spirit and, given the circumstances of the day, we're getting along, you know. So that triumvirate of family, fam- that family work dynamic is always the trickiest thing to suss, suss out. It took me a long time for me to get that straight. And that's, and that's even with my family are mixed directly in with the band as Patti's a band member, you know. If you can balance those two things it leads for a pretty satisfying, satisfying life and, and I've been lucky enough to sort that through as I've gotten older.

Zane Lowe: I think it's inspiring to see how you've been able to build such a strong, what seems at least for me as a fan, as someone who observes and isn't part of the dynamic, such a strong balance over time between the two because so much of your music, and I think music steeped in great rock and roll is, is built, is built on the chase. I think of a song like "Last Man Standing," you know, and I, and I think about that idea, and maybe I'm missing the nuance of the song, but the title itself says to me like "I'm running things down," you know. It's almost like "I'm afraid of what I'm not going to experience when it's all said and done."

Bruce Springsteen: I think that uh, that record was, that's, that particular song was directly due to George's passing and me finding out that, "Well, okay, I'm uh, out of that group of people, I'm, I'm kind of here on my own," you know. And um, it was a small honoring of the guys that I learned my craft with, you know, between the ages of 14 and 17 or 18, you know. Those were some of the deepest learning years of my life. Learning how to be on stage, learning how to write, learning how to, how to front the band, learning how to sing in front of a band, uh, learning how to put together a show, learning how to play for all different kinds of audiences, at fireman's fairs, at union halls, at CYO dances, at uh, uh… and, and just really honing your craft, you know. So it was the tip of the hat, sort of, that period of learning with the, with that, with that group of people, you know. And we were always, we always wanted to make music that followed our lives along. I said I didn't wanna find myself as 40 years old on stage sort of feeling funny about singing a song that I wrote when I was 20, uh, where I was trying to hold on to some ephemeral sense of use, you know. I, I always wanted to, uh, write music that that felt like it, it…

Zane Lowe: Was life being lived at the time?

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah, li-, yeah exactly, exactly. That, that's, that's been, that's been a concern of mine.

Zane Lowe: In fact I was talking to Rick Rubin about this the other day. We were discussing Tom Petty's album, uh, "Wildflowers," because uh, it's, it's, it's coming out in its sort of original 25-song format that, that I think Tom always wanted to put it out in, not the 15-single-album. Although I laughed at it. It's like that's the single album. 15 songs nowadays is a marathon for kids, but anyway.

Bruce Springsteen: It is. I mean back in the day there's, you didn't, you didn't have room for more than 10 or 12 songs, you know. If you were, most, my early rec-, my early records have seven songs on them, eight songs on them. You know, that was all you could fit. You had 40 minutes, you know, so…

Zane Lowe: They were 9-minute songs though, Bruce, to be fair, you know what I'm saying.

Bruce Springsteen: That's true.

Zane Lowe: I'm jus kidding, I'm jus kidding.

Bruce Springsteen: You know.

Zane Lowe: Now um, we were talking about this and I was saying that, that, that album is so remarkable in many respects because it, it, it does what, what you just said. It tells the story of a man at 44, who's going through it and wanted to make a timeless document of that moment…

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah.

Zane Lowe: …rather than try to chase something down. And I feel like the last five or maybe six years of your life, you have achieved something incredible. You have found a way - it's a magic act, really - you found a way to reflect generously and tell your life story through, through the written word, through Broadway, and now through this gift of an album, and not sound like you're closing your life story. It sounds like you're making room for something else.

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah, that's a, that's an excellent way to put it because really it's kind of packing your bags from a certain period of time in your life putting them away and then giving yourself room to do whatever you're going to do next, you know. It was all those projects were summational. The book was, the play was… This record is sort of, it's com-, it's a combination of summational and the beginning of something new, you know, with the band. But yeah, that's exactly, that's how I feel, I mean I feel like you, you, you…

Zane Lowe: I feel like the book was the garage sale, Broadway was the reckoning, and the album is the gift.

Bruce Springsteen: Maybe that's it.

Zane Lowe: What did you learn from the Broadway experience. I wanna, I talk a little bit about that specific because it was something that was so unique. I don't live with many regrets, Bruce, I've got the tools to get past those, but that one is really on the line for me never getting a chance to see the show, but I've watched it on TV. And um, it struck me that, that every night you were going through this process again for fans in the audience. And maybe I'm looking too deeply into this, but I've, I've watched - just to make it personal for a second - I've watched my mom who is currently suffering from, um, you know, a, a, a disease based in, in age and memory loss. Um, and I'm watching her making memories, like trying to store memories, so as they start to go away she keeps the important ones. And I know that that's something that's close to your, to your family as well. And I wonder in some respects whether there's something subliminal going on where you're like, "I just got to make sure these are in order, these make sense before I can move on to the next thing."

Bruce Springsteen: Well the Broadway show was, a lot of these projects amazingly happen by accident, you know. Like, the book came out of us playing at the Super Bowl. But believe it or not back in 2008 where I wrote a small essay for online about that experience. And I, so I said, "Oh I found a voice that I like enjoyed writing in," and so I ended up writing the book. Uh, the Broadway play came out of, we were invited to play at the white house by President Obama in the last two weeks that he was in the White House. So I said well I don't wanna bring the whole band down there, I'll go down and play a few acoustic songs myself, and maybe just to change it up I'll read a little from the book and I'll play a song. So I came in a studio and I spent a couple hours for two days and I put together 90 percent of what was the Broadway show and I went down and I, I played it in uh, the East Room in the White House. And after it, the president came on stage and he said, "You know, that was really good, that should be a show." This is, this is true. He said, "That ought to be, that ought to be a show that you can play for other people," you know. And so on the way back I said, yeah I think that's right, like I, that should be something that I should be able to take out and play, and play for some folks. And so I said, well I, I need a really intimate environment because I only played for 200 people at the White House, like no more than a 1000 seats, 900 seats. And all those beautiful theaters were on Broadway, so that's where we ended up. And uh, but the whole thing once again came about very organically. And uh, uh, then it was just I followed the track of the book which follows basically the development of my creative and recorded life. And, uh, and, and, so then it was a very natural structure and once again I said it ended up being sort of a summational performance and, and uh… But that was one of the greatest experiences of my life, you know, the hundred and… I'm not sure how many shows I did 126 or something, were some of the loveliest nights of my life. Every night was challenging, every night was a blessing, the audiences were absolutely incredible. And uh, just one of the loveliest experiences I ever had.

Zane Lowe: On this album there is a real sense of, um, freedom that I think came from the speed at which you seem to write these songs. And I know that the instrument that you wrote them on drew you to it. I'm obsessed with this part of, uh, making music. That instruments speak to their players. That it's not just a tool, that it's a relationship. And it sounds like you built a very strong and quick relationship with this guitar that was gifted to you, right, by a fan.

Bruce Springsteen: It's a funny story. I was coming out of the Broadway uh, the Broadway show, and you know there's a little stretch where the fans are there and I sign a few things and I, you know, say hello and I hear a few stories. There was a kid right before I got in the car and he's standing there with this guitar. And, he was from, I think he was from Italy, you know, and, and he said, you know, "Bruce, Bruce, this is uh, we, we brought this for you." And uh, and he had the guitar, there was no case or anything. And he, and he told me, literally, it was a minute, you know. And he gave me the guitar and I said thank you and I got in the car with it, and I said, "Gee this is a really, this is a really beautifully made, made guitar." And it was. And it was from a, the com-, it says "Claves" or something, was it, I've never, company I'd never heard before. But it was, the wood was gorgeous and… So I brought it home and I put it in my living room. I set it up in my living room. And it just sat there and I didn't play it. And, uh, right around the time I started to feel, uh, something coming with the songs, I picked it up, and then most of the songs came out of it, you know. It was just like, it was a beautiful guitar to play, beautiful sounding guitar, and the songs came pouring out of it. So it was, it was a lovely sort of, uh, a little piece of magic that I- And I have no idea who the kid was or what their, or where he is now, but I have to, I have to send him some thanks, so.

Zane Lowe: How do you know. I've got to go back, there's a moment that really, that I need to just kind of get, take you back to in that answer where you, you sort of threw it away but to me it was really important, which is I, I kind of felt the start, the songs dying to come. And, and I know that you, it's, I spent too long asking questions to musicians as to know that analysis is, is like dancing for architecture. But I do have to ask you like if you could put into words how do you know that something is just circling you that needs to be captured or connected to.

Bruce Springsteen: Closest thing I can connect it to it's, it's like, you know, uh, there's this long intubation period. It's like a garden, you know. You seed it at, seed it with experience, and time, and then you wait, all right? And you don't know how long you're going to have to wait, uh… Unfortunately creativity does not, uh, work as, like the seasons do, you know. If I knew I was going to get a batch of songs every winter I'd be a lot happier. Or every summer. Uh, but you seed it and then eventually something, uh, there's an incident or an event or some, something in life just sort of sets it off and they come. And when you're lucky, as I was on this project, they come all at once, they come fast, the recordings come fast, fast is good, uh, and uh… But, but that exact moment is, is, is a moment that I've never known or read anyone who's been able to describe it, what happens between that moment of, uh, of, of when things are ready to sprout and then when they're there. That's the moment that can't be described, that's why it's magic, you know.

Zane Lowe: Is it spiritual?

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah I would say that it, it absolutely is. It, you know, it absolutely is. And it's, it's that moment before, uh, that moment before you take something that is just in the air and suddenly you make it physical. It's a song, it's, it's, it turns into a piece of recording, you know. That, that exact moment is quite indescribable, you know. But it, when it happens it's funny because it, it's, it's, it's kinda, it's such a wonderful thing, you know. I wish everyone could experience it, you know. I mean, that, the week that I spent writing, writing the record was so easy and, and I hadn't written a song for the E Street Band in probably six or seven years. So the week that I spent writing that music when it was just kind of coming every day, this, one song, "Letter To You", "See You In My Dreams", "Ghosts", you know, just every day something else came. What uh, what a lovely experience that is, you know. It's, it's, it's one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. And then when the band came in and just fell into that music and, and, and, and we spent only three hours a song, and I could get in the booth, come around to the front of the recording, and hear the record finished in front of me. You know, it was just wonderful. Yeah, just an incredible, incredible experiences that, uh, still remain some of the loveliest in my life, of my life when they happen, you know.

Zane Lowe: Do you sleep better when that's happening, or are you too excited and you sleep worse?

Bruce Springsteen: Uh, yeah, I keep a guitar in the bedroom. Because you will wake up at night, and continue working on something you had going. And uh, so you tend to, your, your uh, your whole metabolism speeds up.

Zane Lowe: Yeah.

Bruce Springsteen: So for a week you're, you're, you're very active and, and your system is very on high.

Zane Lowe: I wanna get back to that relationship with instruments. I'm fascinated by the idea that that Fender that you played on "Born To Run", that famous cover, it had to be that guitar that perhaps you had a relationship with the guitar that you made "Nebraska" on because it sounds to me like you did. That's one of the most intimate records I've ever heard in my life. And that idea of instruments and you having these moments in time, you know, did it have to be that guitar for "Born To Run" to get made? Do you look back on it now if it'd been a different instrument it would've been a different record?

Bruce Springsteen: Well the, your instruments blend in with the records that you made. So that guitar which is, you know, that's my, that's like my arm, you know. I put that on, I don't even feel like I have an instrument on. It feels just like a piece of me, you know. Um, uh, and "Born To Run" was funny because I actually wrote a lot of it on piano, which is why if you go to "Born To Run" there's all those piano intros. I had a little Aeolian spinet spinner piano in my little tiny shotgun house. And I went in and I, that's how the beginning of "Jungleland" and "Backstreets" and all, that's how the, the record became piano centric. A lot of it was written on the piano. Uh, and then, and then I played, played on that Fender guitar, you know. And uh, the guitar from "Nebraska" which is… wait a minute, can somebody get me…? I'll get it. Hold on. There it is. This is the guitar that, uh, this is the guitar "Nebraska" came out of.

Zane Lowe: Wow.

Bruce Springsteen: Can you see it?

Zane Lowe: Oh my gosh.

Bruce Springsteen: You know.
I was standing in her front lawn
Just twirling her bouton
Me and her went for a ride, sir
Ten innocent people died

Bruce Springsteen: That was it. So it came out of this. So, and, all the songs came out of this guitar, you know. So those are, yeah these, they become sacred pieces for you, you know, any, any anything that brought you all that, that music. So I've got a, I've got a few instruments that are sacred to me. I wish I still had that Aeolian piano that I wrote "Born To Run" on. I don't know what I did with it. I gave it away to somebody when I, gave it away to somebody when I was moving because I couldn't carry it, you know, so uh.

Zane Lowe: Well, you know, that's all part of that, that's all part of the story too. It's all part of the story too. Let me ask you, have you written, have you have you written any other notable moments or anything on that guitar since "Nebraska", or has that kind of hold its place now for you?

Bruce Springsteen: No, you know, you use it, and, and then you don't, you don't go back to those instruments for some reason. They did their job, I, I leave them semi-retired. I may play it on something if that I'm recording in the studio. But uh, uh, no I haven't gone back.

Zane Lowe: But you did go back on this album and, and, you know, you found three songs that appear on, on, um, and they're amazing songs, and they fit beautifully in the context of this album because as you said you've created a modern, you know, a version of what the E Street Band sounds like. But my question is, like, on a song like "Janey Needs A Shooter", like how do you even find that, and what prompts you to go back so far to find something you feel is going to fit into this narrative? That would suggest that you archive in your head like no one I've ever met in my life.

Bruce Springsteen: It was funny, you know, because we're working on a lot of stuff that I have in the vault to put out at some, again, at some time. And I went through a whole, almost record of pre-"Greetings From Asbury Park" music that was all acoustic. And these songs were inside them, and I said, "Wow these were, these were good songs," that I at one point or another sometimes tried to arrange with the band. I said, "It'd be fun to hear the band on this one, that one, and this one," you know. And just, I just picked them by random and, and the guys came in and I said, "Ok, today we're going to record songs that are 50 years old. And so, and we're gonna see what happens," you know. So we went in, and they came out great, you know. With the, the, the modern band playing, playing those ideas that I had as a 22-year-old, right? Talk about, uh, I was 22 when I wrote all those songs and it was, it was great and for some reason it just fit on the record and, and because the record is you know skips through time, you know, and, and it, it, it starts with me thinking about when I was 14 and 15 and then just slow it moves into the present, you know. So those songs added a little touchstone for that certain period of time. And uh, but a lot of fun, you know. And, and the band played them great and, and I went back and I sort of found a voice that, that really fit them and, and their, their nice addition to the record.

Zane Lowe: I mean the voice that you found on this record, there are moments that I, I feel you've found a tone and an emotion and a feeling to, to go along with these songs that, um, I I've heard very rarely if ever from you, um, a chance for you to kind of, I suppose, put yourself inside the song in a different way. I, I feel sometimes, well I guess, what I'm trying to say, I feel sometimes musicians bend the song to their own tone or their own talent. And I feel like you, you go the other way. You find a place where you know what the song needs. And you're willing to go there. Like on a song like "House Of A Thousand Guitars", your voice on that is unbelievable.

Bruce Springsteen: Thank you, thank you. Yeah you got to meet the song halfway, you know. Every piece of music has it demands, I just try to find out what that is, what tone in my voice is going to feel right for this particular piece of music, and, and you try to, you try to meet it in the middle. And uh, that's, that's one of my favorite songs on the record. I, I, I'm not exactly sure why yet.

Zane Lowe: Oh I am, because it's stealth the whole point.
Oh yeah.

Zane Lowe: That song it feels to me like it's the whole point of it all, that it's the whole show in one song.

Bruce Springsteen: It is. That's very, that's well put. Because that's exactly what it is. You know, it, it's at the center of the record and it sort of speaks to this world that the band and I have attempted to create, uh, with its values, its ideas, its codes, since we started, and it kind of collects all of that into one piece of music into this imaginary house of a thousand guitars.

Zane Lowe: It's not imaginary, you're sitting in it right now. I can see the guitars behind you.

Bruce Springsteen: This is the house of a thousand guitars, that's for sure.

Zane Lowe: I mean is it in the set now, and I don't wanna obviously box you into something that you will immediately rip up and do whatever you want on the night, but I don't see how there isn't a moment where "House Of A Thousand Guitars" doesn't close the show.

Bruce Springsteen: It could. Yeah, it's one of those, it's, it's, it's, it's gonna, it'll come in there somewhere, you know. It's uh, it's, it's, it is lovely and summational and speaks to that world that I've created with my, with my fans and with my band. So it's, that's a really little blessed piece of music for me.

Zane Lowe: You know, I would say it should, it should have ended the album, as a fan, but I, but, but it shouldn't have because "I'll See You In My Dreams" is just the perfect way for the album to end. And um, you've spoken honestly and openly about the way that dreams - you relate to your dreams. And, and it's weird, I have friends who very, very rarely recall their dreams. I don't often recall my dreams. But you seem to be able to. And I wonder kind of what, without getting too personal, since you've gone through this process of, of recollecting and sharing, whether or not your dreams have been different lately.

Bruce Springsteen: I remember a lot of my dreams, and I always have, you know. I'm a vivid dreamer. And I've always remembered, you know, when I wake in the morning I will very often remember extensively what I dreamt the night before. But that bas-, that song was basically about that those that, those that pass away don't ever really leave us, you know. I, they visit me, and they do visit me in my dream several times a year, you know. I'll see, I'll see, you know, Clarence will come up a couple of times in a year or my, you know, my, the fellow that traveled with me on the road for 25 years, I'll see him or I'll see Danny. They just show up in, in very absurd, sometimes in abstract ways, you know, in the middle of strange stories. And, but, but they're there and it's, it's actually a lovely thing to revisit with them in that way. So, uh, the song was a little concrete in the fact that that does happen to me. But uh, it's also about how they walk alongside of us forever, you know. The people that we love don't ever truly leave us. The pain slips away, the love remains. And they live in that love and walk alongside you as your ancestors and your life companions, as a part of your spirit, you know. So that song is basically about that. Hey, you know, I'm not gonna see you at the next session, but I'll see you in my dreams.

Zane Lowe: Have you ever gotten songs from dreams? Has anything come to you in a dream that has just made it into a Bruce Springsteen record?

Bruce Springsteen: Only once. Only once did I ever dream- Usually what happens is you dream a song you're writing and you think it's fantastic. And you wake up and it's always not. You know, there's something, there's something in the dream that feels great while you're- but when you wake up it's just like, oh this isn't. The only song I ever got out of a dream is a song, and nobody's, nobody's really gonna know what it is. It's a song called "Surprise, Surprise" from my "Working On A Dream" record. For some reason I dreamt that song, woke up, wrote it, it came out pretty good. But that's the only song I've ever grabbed out of a dream that, that ended up being anything, so.

Zane Lowe: And it's funny because in preparation for this conversation I went on the most beautiful deep dive. I just started somewhere I don't even know where, um, and I just ended up going very deep into footages and, and randomly. And I found these old performance videos of you playing with the band in the early days, just, just the most glorious chaos. Just women running on stage and grabbing you and kissing you and the band just, it's just unbelievable.

Bruce Springsteen: Those were the days.

Zane Lowe: Those were the days, those were the days. And I think, and I think about all that old footage and I wonder whether or not you ever come across it, even just by accident, you stumble on something and, and you just and you just allow yourself, just to indulge a little bit in it and reflect a little bit through, through what has been captured on video.

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah, yeah, that was fun. That was… you know, we didn't, we didn't allow ourselves to be shot very often when we were young. I was superstitious about it as far as the magician not wanting to see too closely how he does his magic trick. And, uh, so I'm so glad for the footage that exists now as I've gotten older and I really wish I'd allowed, and we film a lot now, but I really wish I'd allowed us to film much more when I was younger. But that particular piece of footage, which I'm, I'm very familiar with, was us playing "Rosalita" in Phoenix Arizona.

Zane Lowe: That's right.

Bruce Springsteen: And I think I was 27 or 28. And it was just this, was the end of the night and there was just a, that fabulous chaotic moment where the stage is besieged, and it's a great little piece of rock and roll footage, you know, rock and roll film.

Zane Lowe: There's a moment after that they finally removed the, the women from the stage and everything else but I think you turn around to someone in the band and you're just like, "what the fuck just happened?"

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah.

Zane Lowe: And the veneer just falls away and all of a sudden you're not the boss anymore, you're just this 27 year old normal kid who's like what just happened there. It was amazing.

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, great time, great night. There'd be a lot of great shows in Arizona. Phoenix Arizona was a big big city for us when we very started, and great audiences there. So, that was a lovely, uh, a lovely moment.

Zane Lowe: One thing I've learned from talking to musicians over what has now become a majority of my life is that, um, this, this beautiful experience that you go through and that we all go through together by loving what you do, I would say almost inevitably begins with the desire to get past something, fill some hole…

Bruce Springsteen: Of course, yeah.

Zane Lowe: …to resolve issues, a fracture in your life, motivation. Something as simple as "I'll show you."

Bruce Springsteen: Well you're, you know, you're, you're a repair man. And first thing you're trying to do is repair yourself. You know, the places that you've been wounded or hurt or feel empty. And then through doing that you, you, you sort of, come up with a gift where you can help people repair themselves through your music and through, uh… You know, so that's, that's, that's the way I look at part of my job is I'm a repair man. You know, it's also, it's you're into an identity search. Uh, who am I, uh, what do I believe in, what, how am I gonna comb my hair, wear my clothes, walk down the street, you know. It's a huge, it's a huge search for, popular music is a place where a lot of people go to find their, their different pieces of their identity.

Zane Lowe: Yeah.

Bruce Springsteen: And, uh, so I pulled all of this together into this guy named Bruce Springsteen whoever that might be, you know. It, it comes both out of a place of great joy and great pain. And it's, it's, which is why it's so filled with life. Because that's life. Life is great joy, great pain. You try to blend them together in a way that makes life bearable to live, you know. And, uh, so that, that thing that you've created comes, comes out of that ground. And, uh, what makes the joy feel real is the fact that it's, it's embedded in this, this soil of, of difficulty and struggle and pain that you've lived through and are trying to make sense out of as a repair man, as a musician.

Zane Lowe: These characters and these adventures that, that you wrote about, um, that, that still crop up here and there but for the most part as you've continued to grow as an artist and a human you've been able to let them rest to some degree. But they were very alive in in the first phases of your of your journey. And I, and I think, I think a lot of times we always felt like any of those characters were real and be they were trying to escape where they came from, a physical boundary as such.

Bruce Springsteen: Sure, yeah.

Zane Lowe: And yet I, I wonder whether or not maybe we got it wrong at times and that that escapism was, was that the pain is still there, even though you're trying to repair it, the pain is still there and those characters are kind of you, and in a way you're trying to escape yourself to some degree and who you actually are as a person versus who, the construct of what you want to become.

Bruce Springsteen: That's right. You know really, I thought, you know, when I was young I thought I just want to get out of town, man. You know, I'm stuck in Asbury, I'm stuck in Freehold, I'm 20 years old, I'm 22, and, uh, uh, you know, I just wanna go someplace. So, uh, all my early characters were really based on characters that I sort of knew in, in Asbury Park, all these different little street characters, and I used, part of it was real and part of it was my imagination, and that's where "Greetings From Asbury Park" and "The Wild Innocent And The Street Shuffle" and some of, uh, "Born To Run" comes from. But what you find out later is, is, hey I live ten minutes from Freehold right now, you know. It wasn't, it wasn't, it wasn't so much, it wasn't so much the place you were trying to get away from, it was some aspect of you that you were unhappy with at the moment and you were trying to sort through and, uh, and process, you know. And as time went by I realized that, uh, I like where I live, I like where I was born, I like the people that are here, uh, it's been a great life for me here, you know, I've been pretty protected by the community that's here. So I, I kept a level head and, and, and it protected me from sort of the vicissitudes of fame and, and fortune, uh, which can confuse a lot of people. But you're right it's, it's initially, it's not so much you want to actually physically get away. It's, it's that you need to process the things that are painful in your life and the parts of yourself that you want to escape. You got to sort through that stuff.

Zane Lowe: And if I could ask you, because I've done that too, and there's a moment that you get there where they could, they, they call it a breakthrough. And that's really breaking it down to its core element so that you can always refer to it as and when you feel lost.

Bruce Springsteen: Right.

Zane Lowe: Bruce Springsteen, the superstar, the person who has influenced and inspired and given joy to millions and millions of people, the person who makes music, why is Bruce Springsteen here?

Bruce Springsteen: I have no idea.

Zane Lowe: No breakthrough, no breakthrough. We got, we got some more work to do, Bruce, we got more work to do.

Bruce Springsteen: That, that, I don't know the answer to that question, you know, you know. This is, uh… No I, I, you know, everybody, I think if you're talking about…

Zane Lowe: Yeah, why does he exist, not why is he's still here, why does he exist.

Bruce Springsteen: …did you, did you search for a purpose? Right, if you're searching for a purpose in your life. You know, hey, you know I was a guy that was born to pick up that guitar and, you know, put my band together and travel around the world and, and, and, uh, you know give people a good night's event, a good night of entertainment if I can and, and maybe sometimes a little bit more.

Zane Lowe: That's a spiritual calling, Bruce, right? And it, and it, and it brings us to a song like "The Power Of Prayer", which is, um… And also the idea of faith and the fact that throughout your life, and I, and I think of an album like "The Rising" really is a key moment there, because I feel like that was a real moment when you heeded the call that you knew you had something to share and to say that would help to repair in your own words and you heeded the call, and you give faith to so many people, I wonder where you get you, what you put your faith in and where you're able to have a relationship with faith that's personal.

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah, well, you know, I sort of, I always, I just, I grew up catholic and, and that was enough to turn me off from religion forever, you know. And I realized as I grew older that you can run away from your religion but you can't really run away from your faith. That's something that is a very, uh, it's a very different thing. And so I carried a lot of, I carried a lot of lang- of the language with me of the biblical language which I use and write with quite often. And my work is filled with it. You know, "Promised Land", uh, "House Of A Thousand Guitars", "Power Of Prayer" on this record, you know. Uh, I found a meditative, constructive fulfilling sort of faith through, through my work. The song "Power Of Prayer" on the record really sort of explains how, hey that was my, you know, those little three-minute records and 180-second-character studies that came through pop music were like these little meditations and little prayers for me, and that's what I turned them into. And my faith came in and filled those songs, uh, and gave them a spiritual dimension, you know. It's an essential part of your life.

Zane Lowe: How does music play a role in your life when you're not making it and when you're not writing it? And, and is it, does it always feel that, fill the rooms and what do you listen to, what do you and Patti enjoy?

Bruce Springsteen: Alright, let me think what I've listened to. Ok, I have a show I'm working on, I'm gonna work on today where there's a song called "American Muscle" by a group called "One America". I have Nas, I have Nas's "Car #85" from his new record. Uh, uh, I have Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place To Go". I have a song by The Screaming Blue Messiahs, a group that, that was, uh, 19- from 1983, one of the greatest bands of the 80's that people are not that familiar with. Uh, I have a song by the Tom Robinson Band called "2-4-6-8 Motorway" from the 70's. So I'm all over the place, you know. So I'm a little, right now I'm listening to all those things for the show that I'm gonna do today.

Zane Lowe: You know ,I feel like music this year has really shown up. It took a minute for artists to understand how to move in a different way because, you know, no longer family, record, tour, family, record, tour. Like, wait a minute.

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah.

Zane Lowe: And it was our job as fans to give artists the space to find their voice at a time when stillness and creativity aren't actually, aren't actually good for, don't necessarily get along all the time, right? Stillness is not always a good friend to the artist, is it, Bruce?

Bruce Springsteen: Well, a) most artists are not good at being still, you know, that if you were good at being still you wouldn't be…

Zane Lowe: Running around the world a thousand miles an hour, yeah, yeah.

Bruce Springsteen:…even when you're in, in one physical place, your brain is always off on another adventure, you know. And so, I'm, even, I'm, my mind is constantly, uh, in the wilderness, you know, searching for what, what's going to happen next, where am I going, what journey am I on, and, and, and, and so if you're going to be an artist you cannot expect a quiet mind. It, they just don't go together, you know. Uh, if you, as you get older hopefully you learn to, uh, reserve some, some room for that mind so that you're not constantly running and constantly working and constantly in place, that's an important skill to develop. But in general artists are not creatures of a quiet mind and that's just the way that it goes.

Zane Lowe: Yeah, yeah. And it's not a quiet time. I've always felt to some degree, like we have wanted you to speak or to show up or to use your voice even more than you've been willing, and that we are trying to pull you into a conversation at times where you feel like you have a right, and you do, to decide how you want to show up. And that's really through the power of your music and your ability to heal through your music. But does it feel like a bit of a tug of war sometimes between the, the quiet secret subliminal hope that Bruce is going to put out a record that speaks to the times versus what is really going on inside you.

Bruce Springsteen: Well I, I, I take into consideration that I'm in a conversation with an audience and that I, because I've established this conversation 45 years ago I have an obligation to keep, hold up my end of it. So, I try to do that, you know, uh, as best as I can and fulfill what I feel is my continuing commitment to the ideas that we've put forth and the audience that we've nurtured. So that's, so I, I don't go quiet intentionally for any long periods of time, unless, unless I don't have anything really to add to the conversation at that moment or anything to say, you know. I'm interested in, as much as anybody else is, and like well what's going to happen next. I don't know. I gotta wait and see. You know, I wouldn't have expected that I'd had this group of songs, you know. Uh, guys were telling me that we cut the record almost a year ago next month. I didn't think, you know, what I thought I'd have those songs and have the band in the studio at that time and things would have just worked, no. So, uh, you know, but I, I believe in holding up sort of my end of the conversation as best as I can.

Zane Lowe: I think a lot of people would have thought that this would be in a time when you would have come out and there would have been a moment where there was a, a reckoning of sorts with the way the world sits. And I think it's, for me personally, I think it's beautiful that you found a space to, to, to speak personally and honestly rather than speak for everybody else.

Bruce Springsteen: I don't come from concept first, you know. Uh, and I don't believe the artist has to address the exact moment literally. You know, when they put a piece of work out, you know. This record sort of, it, it, it addresses it in its own way, you know.

Zane Lowe: Can you give us an example about where you see that, where you hear that in the music that you made, where you feel like in a way, whether you consciously or subconsciously, you steered into the moment.

Bruce Springsteen: To address yourself simply topically all the time. And I, I've really, I would say the closest I ever came to doing that would have been unintentionally maybe "Nebraska", during the Reagan years, maybe a little "Born In The U.S.A.", and "The rising" would probably be as close as, as I've come to sort of taking on immediately and direct topical issues. In general I don't do that, you know, because very often if you, I just can't write the songs that are good enough to, uh, for the moment, you know. Uh, uh, and so you, you, you write what comes out of you, you know, and that's the best that you have to offer at a given moment.

Zane Lowe: Are you more surprised than anybody else that people consider Bruce Springsteen to be this voice of the American narrative, this person who always finds a way to translate, you know, the chaos and the calm and yet to your point you, it's never been a conscious or conceptual decision.

Bruce Springsteen: Well I think if you look at the body of my work and we're, and we're trying to- if you wanted to find a body of work that, that expressed what it was like to be, uh, an American say from 1970 till 19- till now in the post-industrial period of the United States, yeah, you know. I, I'd be a place you could go and, and, and get some information on that. And so in that sense I always try to speak to my times in the way that I best could. And so that may be where that whole, that side of my identity comes from.

Zane Lowe: Well, you know, this has been an incredible conversation and, and this, this album is a great conversation between yourself and all of us. And so…

Bruce Springsteen: Thank you.

Zane Lowe: …if we could end by me asking you this, um, can you recall one of the greatest conversations that you've ever had with somebody that really has stayed with you, and not even in the specifics of what they said, but just a conversation that you remember, because we have them all the time…

Bruce Springsteen: Sure.

Zane Lowe: …but it saddens me that we don't recall enough of them because they subliminally make up the learnings of our life. And if you could recall one really impactful conversation.

Bruce Springsteen: Well I would say that I'm involved in a, in the conversation that I've had with Jon Landau, my friend and long-time manager and, and record producer. I've had some of the most essential conversations of my life with, with Jon, with my close friend. And, uh, these are conversations that I would call life shaping conversations, where they were very, uh, at times when I was really in a quest for and stuck for who I, where I was going and, uh, uh, Jon was a great resource and friend, and I had just some critical conversations. It's good, I wish that everyone has one friend that they can have that conversation with, which is the conversation of your life, you know. That's, that's something I wish on everybody. And then, but then, then the conversation with my fans, you know. Those, those, that's an essential part of who I am. But, uh, but I had some very, very, very intense, and continue to have very meaningful conversations with my, with my good friend Jon.

Zane Lowe: Well this has been a great one for me, and hopefully for everyone who's watched it listen to it. Thanks Bruce.

Bruce Springsteen: You were great, man, I really appreciate it. You were really terrific, thank you.

Zane Lowe: So are you man. I love talking with you. It was just incredible. I'll never forget it.

Bruce Springsteen: God bless all. Take care you.

Compiled by: Eddy Wehbe via SpringsteenLyrics.
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