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Sunday, 24 January, 1999, 02:57 GMT
Words with the Boss
bruce springsteen
Bruce Springsteen: Mellowed over his music career
BBC Radio 2 lifted the lid on the secrets of one of rock's biggest names on Saturday when Bruce Springsteen gave a revealing interview about his life and his career.

The programme was the first of Billy Bragg's series The American Trilogy, which sees him speak to three of the most influential names in the US music business. Future programmes will feature Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks.

His hits include Born To Run and Thunder Road as well as Born In The USA - which was adopted as a patriotic anthem and used by Ronald Reagan in a presidential campaign.

But the lyrics suggest otherwise, and Springsteen is still bemused by the patriotic adoration the track received.


bruce springsteen
Springsteen: "New Bob Dylan"
"I knew when we cut that song it was going to capture people's imagination. The lyrical content features someone coming home and trying to find where they belong - and if they belong.

"And the music was powerful and expressed a survivor instinct - I've been through this, I'm out the other side, and I'm alive .

"There may be some misinterpretations out there, but it was the right record. I probably could have made a record that might have been more easily understood, but it might not have been the right record."

Born in Freehold, New Jersey in 1949, Springsteen spent most of youth playing the guitar, much to the annoyance of his family and teachers.

He started out playing local clubs and bars. "I picked up my guitar, and when I played Twist And Shout, I felt different, even though it'd probably sound dreadful now.

"Everybody was starting to model themselves on The Beatles or The Rolling Stones and you had to sing," he tells Bragg.

During the late 1960s he began to meet the members of what would become his E Street Band and they developed a cult following around New Jersey.

By 1972 he had landed an audition with legendary record executive John Hammond, a recording of which features in the programme. It resulted in the Greetings From Astbury Park, New Jersey album which earned him the label of "the new Bob Dylan".

Vietnam influence

He says the experience of growing up alongside the horrors of the Vietnam War was a the major influence.

"I was 19, and my drummer had gone and died, people were frightened, and everyone was trying to figure out how to get out. I didn't come out of a political culture, I lived in a small town and I wasn't protesting. But it became a big part of your life experience.

"Whether you were there are or whether you were at home, it was a defining experience in American culture. The world had changed."

Nowadays he writes more about his marriage and his children.

"I have a wife and responsiblities and when I was 22 I was trying to avoid those responsibilities. But now I know that's where life's satisfactions reside."

Now he is approaching 50, he is less concerned with preaching through his music - but he still enjoys writing about people and places.

"I don't believe you can tell people anything, you've got to show them something. And the way you do that is by capturing as much as you can of the nuances of life and living in your music."

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