Bruce Springsteen is one of the most well-respected figures in the whole of popular music. He has soundtracked the blue-collar, working-class existence of everyday Americans, and through his brilliant lyrical storytelling, he captured the zeitgeist of the shifting societal values in the 1970s and ’80s.
Anthemic yet poetic, Springsteen’s works hit the sweet spot that only the best troubadours can. His existence as a self-aware, regular Joe native of New Jersey permeates his work, and this is what has afforded it the familiarity that has led to him packing out stadiums worldwide. In addition to his music, it is his character that has truly endeared him to fans. Less mystical than Bob Dylan, perhaps less learned than the likes of Paul Simon, and certainly a better songwriter than Billy Joel, Springsteen is the definitive American musician.
His songs are drenched in his personality, and they touch on every facet of the American existence ranging from manifest destiny to growing up amongst the heady days of the 1950s and ’60s. In this way, his songs can almost be taken as the ultimate musical chronicle of the modern American condition, a realm that only Dylan has also really tapped into, save for the fact that Springsteen never had a bizarre evangelical phase.
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As a man, his open discussion of mental health, messing up, and family relations with everyday tangible subjects has genuinely helped to establish him as ‘The Boss’. Although he is a major superstar, Springsteen is also still an ordinary bloke. For instance, he moved his family from New Jersey to LA in the ’90s but didn’t like it, and after a short period of time, the Springsteen’s were back at home in the ‘Garden State’.
Given that Springsteen is such an affable chap, fans have always felt like they know him personally. Through discourse, interviews and documentaries, Springsteen has established himself as America’s resident everyman. A top man by all accounts, he always comes across well. In fact, he is so well-loved that even ex-President Barack Obama ranks among his fans and friends.
In 1995, fans were treated to another insight into the everyday workings of New Jersey’s favourite son. This rare footage shows Springsteen and The E Street Band blasting through some acoustic takes of their songs in preparation for their massive show at Tramps, New York City. In the revealing footage, you see Springsteen trying to remember his songs, spanning from across his career up until that point. They are: ‘You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)’, ‘Two Hearts’, ‘Bobby Jean’, ‘Spirit In The Night’, ‘The Promised Land’ and ‘Ramrod’. The footage establishes a candid image of Springsteen, holding the room and making his bandmates laugh.
Furthermore, on a more touching note, there are appearances from the late E Street heroes and founding members, saxophonist Clarence Clemons and multi-instrumentalist Danny Federici. A brilliant insight into the classic era of Springsteen and band, it paints a picture of him like a New Jersey Robin Hood with his band of merry men.
There’s hilarious banter and musical brilliance; what’s not to love?
Watch the footage below.