Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stone File: The Ultimate Compendium of Interviews, Articles, Facts and Opinions from the Files of Rolling Stone Paperback is a compendium of all the interviews, articles, reviews, and news items about Bruce Springsteen found in the pages of Rolling Stone. I had a clippings collection from my R/S subscription 1978 to 1992; almost nothing is missing except for some tangential articles. Springsteen is a favorite of Rolling Stone and of myself, so it was fun to read these pieces dating back to his first album in 1973. Because the articles are chronological it doesn’t always make the most sense. Joseph Dalton’s history of Springsteen: “My Hometown” from October 10, 1985 could easily have been the first article.
The best articles were the “Born In The U.S.A” interviews by Kurt Loder of December 6, 1884 and February 28, 1985. Also James Henke’s interview from August 6, 1992.
The least interesting was Mikal Gilmore’s editorial from November 15, 1990. Gilmore illustrates a problem with Rolling Stone in general- they try to paint Springsteen as a liberal political activist- often putting words into Bruce’s month. I found this annoying. Another place the book falls short is with photos- there are no photos. Rolling Stone has a great collection of Springsteen photos and they don’t use any of them?! Even the cover photos are terrible.
Rolling Stone should publish an updated edition. An E-book could contain a lot of color photos.. just a suggestion to make a good book a great book.
Excepts From The Book
Darkness on the Edge of Town was sparer sounding and more cleanly recorded than Born to Run. “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the overdub method,” Springsteen told Dave Marsh, adding that most of the album was recorded live in the studio. His lyric approach, too, was pared down, aiming at forceful directness, rather than a blinding maze of images. And though it initially seemed a downcast record full of characters whose lives were slowly withering away, Springsteen passionately claimed its message was ultimately redemptive: “What it is, it’s the characters’ commitment, he explained to Dave Marsh. “In the face of all the betrayals” in the face of all the imperfections that surround you in whatever kind of life you lead, it’s the characters’ refusal to let go of their own humanity, to let go of their own belief in the other side.” At the same time, he admitted that there was “a certain loss of innocence-more so than in the other albums.” -page 13 by Parke Puterbaugh
Bruce Springsteen Claims The Future Of Rock & Roll
It’s important to note here that money had never been one of Springsteen’s priorities. Had his attitude about finances been different, he and Appel would probably never have had their contretemps. What Springsteen wanted, to the exclusion of almost everything else, was to make a great rock & roll record-and to find someone who believed in him without reservation. Appel was his man. Mike Appel believed that Springsteen belonged in rock’s pantheon alongside Dylan, Presley, the Stones and the Beatles. “When he sang,” Appel said last year in a Record World interview, recalling their second meeting, “I couldn’t believe what I heard. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a major, major talent find.” A former associate confirms this: “He thought Bruce was the greatest, bar none. He also thought his way of dealing with the money was protecting Bruce. His plan was to set up proper books and run the business legitimately when everything broke for Bruce.” But before that happened, another believer appeared on the scene. Jon Landau bumped into Springsteen in early April 7974. The musician was reading an enlarged display copy of Landau’s review of his The Wild, the Innocent E the E Street Shuffle; it filled a window at Charlies, a Cambridge bar where Springsteen was playing a benefit for a local friend. Landau introduced himself as the author, asked what Springsteen thought of the review, and the two became friends. Later that month, after seeing a Springsteen concert at the Harvard Square Theater, Landau wrote an impassioned review from which Columbia Records culled the now famous line, “I saw rock & roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen,” for its advertising campaign. -page 61 by David McGee from August 11, 1977
“When I sit down to write, I try to write something that feels real to me. Like, what does it fell like to be thirty-five or something right now, at this point in time, living in America? it’s not much more conscious than that. I generally try to write songs that are about real life, not fantasy material. I try to reflect people’s lives back to them in some fashion. And if the show is really good, your life should flash before your eyes in some way- the show’s long enough, that’s for sure! I think on a night when we’re redly good, you can come and hopefully you can see your relationships with your parents, brothers, sisters, your town, your country, your friends, everything-sexual, political, the whole social thing. It should be a combination of a circus, a political thing and a spiritual event. And hopefully you’ll come and your life will flash before your eyes. That’s kind of what I’m our there trying to do, you know?” That he succeeds, and often brilliantly, is due in large part to his unusual empathy with his audience, his devotion to the otherwise unsung realities of their lives. “I never look out at my crowd and see a bunch of faces,” he said. “It’s never happened. Any night I’ve ever been onstage, I see people-individual people in individual seats out there. That’s why, before the show, we go out and we check the sound in every section of the room. Because there’s some guy sittin’ back here, and he’s got a girl with him, and, you know, it’s like, this is their seat. And what you hope for is that the same thing goes the other way-that when they look up at you, they don’t just see some person with a guitar.” That Springsteen is popularly perceived as much more than that is evidenced by his standing in Rolling Stone’s 1984 Readers Poll, which he effectively swept. But along with his burgeoning success has come what would appear to be a personal paradox. With the money rolling in, this determinedly unpretentious chronicler of the working class has become a millionaire. Can he hold on to his soul, to his street-bred ideals, even as he moves into that mansion on the hill he once only dreamed about? “I know this is idealistic,” he said, taking a slug of beer, “but part of the idea our band had from the beginning was that you did nor have to lose your connection to the people you write for. I don’t believe that fame or success means that you lose that connection, and I don’t believe that makin’ more money means you lose it. Because that’s not where the essence of what you are lies. That’s not what separates people. What separates people are things that are in their heart. So I just can never surrender to that idea. Because I know that before I started playing, I was alone. And one of the reasons I picked up the guitar was that I wanted to be part of something. And I practiced and I studied and I worked real hard to do that, and I ain’t about to give it up now.” – page 169 by Kurt Loder from February 28, 1985
Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel Vision
“In some ways,” he stammers, “there’s not a lot of difference. I still go out, meet people. With the size of the thing, the way that you counteract that is by becoming more intimate in your work. I suppose that’s why after I did Born in the U.S.A., I made this intimate record. I made a record that was really sort of addressed to my core audience, my longtime fans.” He frowns. “The size is tricky, it’s dangerous. You can become purely iconic, or you can become just a Rorschach test that people throw up their own impressions upon, which you always are to some degree anyway. With size, and the co-option of your images and attitudes-you know, you wake up and you’re a car commercial or whatever. And the way I think the artist deals with that is just reinvention. You’ve got to constantly reinvent, and it’s a long trip, it’s a long drive.” If there was ever a point when his relationship with the audience would have changed, he adds, it would have been during the Born to Run furor of 1975-the covers of Time and Newsweek, the move from clubs to threaten’ the charges that he was a record-company hype-rather than the Born in the U.S.A. explosion of a decade later. “Obviously, the Born in the U.S.A. experience had its frightening moments,” he says. “But I had a real solid sense of myself by the time I was thirty-five. When I was twenty-five, I thought that I would slip away. . . . Also, when I was twenty-five, I just worked all the time, because I had nothing else going. I think at this point in my life I’ve gotten to the place where I want a real life, which is something you’ve got to cut out for yourself. And I’ve been lucky: Most of my fans, most of the people I meet wish you the best. Then you meet people that-your real life is an intrusion upon their fantasy, and they don’t like that.” He laughs uproariously. “But, hey, that’s not my problem. So anyway, along the road I probably come in contact with fans a little less than I used to, but outside of the details of the thing, I think my basic feelings and attitudes toward my audience haven’t really changed. I guess I still feel like one of them, basically.” -page 267 by Steve Pond from April 7, 1988
Bruce Springsteen: The Rolling Stone Interview
How’s it been out here, compared with New Jersey?
Los Angeles provides a lot of anonymity. you’re not like the big fish in the small pond. People wave to you and say hi, but you,re pretty much left to go your own way. Me in New Jersey, on the other hand, was like Santa Claus at the North pole [laughs]
What do you mean?
Hmm, how can I put it? It’s like you’re a bit of a figment of a lot of other people’s imaginations. And that always takes some sorting out. But it’s even worse when you see yourself as a figment of your our, imagination. And in the last three or four years, that’s something I’ve really free myself from. I think what happened was that when I was young, I had this idea of playing our my life like it was some movie, writing the script and making all the pieces fit. And I really did that for a long time. But you can get enslaved by your own myth or your own image, for the lack of a better word. And it’s bad enough having other people seeing you that way, but seeing yourself that way is really bad. It’s pathetic. And I got to a place, when Patti and I hooked up, where I said I got to stop writing this story. It doesn’t work. And that’s when I realized I needed a change, and I like the west. I like the geography. Los Angeles is a funny city. Thirty minutes and you’re in the mountains, where for 100 miles there’s one store. Or you’re in the desert, where for 500 miles there’s five towns.
So Patti and I came out here and put the house together and had the babies and . . . the thing is, I’d really missed a big part of my life. The only way I could describe it is that being successful in one area is illusory. people think because you’re so good at one particular thing, you’re good at many things. And that’s almost always not the case. you’re good at that particular thing, and the danger is that that particular thing allows you the indulgence to remove yourself from the rest of your life. And as time passed, I realized that I was using my job well in many ways, but there was a fashion in which I was also abusing it. And-this began in my early thirties- I really knew that something was wrong.
That was about ten years ago?
Yeah, it started after I got back from The River Tour. I’d had more success than I’d ever thought I’d have. we’d played around the world. And I thought, like, “Wow, this is it.” And I decided, “Okay, I want to have a house.” And I started to look for a house. “I looked for two years, couldn’t find one. I’ve probably been in every house in the state of New Jersey-twice. Never bought a house. Figured I just couldn’t find one I liked. And then I realized that it ain’t that I can’t find one, I couldn’t buy one. I can find one, but I can’t buy one. Damn! Why is that? And I started to pursue why that was. why did I only feel good on the road? why were all my characters in my songs in can? I mean, when I was in my early twenties, I was always sort of like “He), what I can put in this suitcase, that guitar case, that bus-that’s all I need, now and forever.” And I really believed it. And really lived it. Lived it for a long time.
In a Rolling Stone cover story from 1978, Dave Marsh wrote that you were so devoted to music that it was impossible to imagine you being married or having kids or a house.
A lot of people have said the same thing. But then something started ticking. It didn’t feel right. It was depressing. It was like .,This is a joke. I’ve come a long way, and there’s some dark joke here at the end.” I didn’t want to be one of those guys who can write music and tell stories and have an effect on people’s lives, and maybe on society in some fashion, but not be able to get into his own self But that was pretty much my story. I tend to be an isolationist by nature. And it’s not about money or where you live or how you live. It’s about psychology. My dad was certainly the same way. You don’t need a ton of dough and walls around your house to be isolated. I know plenty of people who are isolated with a six-pack of beer and a television set. But that was a big part of my nature. Then music came along, and I latched onto it as a way to combat that part of myself It was a way that I could talk to people. It provided me with a means of communication, a means of placing myself in a social context which I had a tendency not to want to do. And music did those things but in an abstract fashion, ultimately. It did them for the guy with the guitar, but the guy without the guitar was pretty much the same as he had been.
Now I see that two of the best days of my life were the day I picked up the guitar and the day that I learned how to put it down. Somebody said, “Man, how did you play for so long?” I said, “That’s the easy part. It’s stopping that’s hard.”
When did you learn to put the guitar down?
Pretty recently, I had locked into what was pretty much a hectic obsession, which gave me enormous focus and energy and fire to burn, because it was coming out of pure fear and self-loathing and self-hatred. I’d get on stage and it was hard for me to stop, That’s why my shows were so long. They weren’t long because I had an idea or. plan that they should be that long. I couldn’t stop until I felt burnt, period. Throughly burnt.
It’s funny, because the results of the show of the music might babe been positive for other people, but there was an element of it that was abusive for me. Basically, it was my drug. And so I start to follow the thread of weaning myself. – page 322 by James Henke from August 6, 1992