|Ahead of Bruce Springsteen's headline set this coming Saturday night at Glastonbury, Q joined him and the E Street Band on the road in the US last month for the feature that graces the cover of the current issue of the magazine.
Travelling from Houston to Denver and on to New Jersey aboard their private plane, and capturing them both onstage and off (and in pics). It amounts to a unique portrait of the man and his band on the eve of their first UK festival appearance.
Springsteen himself was in an expansive mood. Hence, here are the thoughts of The Boss that didn’t fit into the magazine…
Q: You have three kids. When was the last time you told them to “Turn that rubbish down”?
Q: What was the first music to inspire you as a musician?
“Later in the ’60s there was a psychedelic influence, and I played plenty of psychedelic blues, but all I saw when I was a kid were showmen, the doo wop guys. To me, that was a great gift that I was able to witness and to receive as a young musician. With my band, I wanted to incorporate those values from the beginning.
“The idea of a show was delegitamised through that bohemian notion of selling out, which I always felt was somewhat misguided. Because once you’re onstage, you’re in a show, my friend, whatever you’re doing. There’s certain kinds of people I wouldn’t want to see put on my show, because it’s not who they are. But the idea – and it remains a good one, and a bridge to your audience – was putting on a show with the intent of reaching a deeper level of communication and getting at a deeper truth.
“The bands I loved… The incredible syncopation of tight musicians, the communal aspect of what it took for Sam And Dave, whether they hated each other’s guts or not, to sing that well together. Dave sang low, Sam sang high and they met somewhere in the middle around each other. And that’s the ballet of human existence and communion. And I enjoy orchestrating it every night with my guys.
“I remember, I saw Sam And Dave in The Fast Lane in Asbury Park in 1973 or ’74, some of the last years they were together, and it was still so, so good. The place was maybe half full. I was stood there witnessing a miracle. I actually cried, because of the beauty of what they were doing.”
Q: One of your most moving songs is a bonus track on the Magic album – Terry’s Song, dedicated to your personal assistant of 24 years Terry McGovern, who died in 2007. What’s your first memory of him?
Q: You disbanded the E Street Band at the start of the ’90s. What made you reform the band at the end of that decade?
“But we got together to play and I wrote a song called Land Of Hope And Dreams and a song called American Skin (41 Shots)… OK, these two songs could have been on any of what people consider to be classic E Street Band records; I can still write for the E Street Band. These two songs address the country right now… There’s still work to do.
“Since I got the band back together, one of amazing things I’ve found is that with the songwriting, over the last decade, it’s come easier than at any time in my life. I’ve been very prolific. It hasn’t been an effort. There’s just a wonderful freedom in doing it now.”
Q: What makes a great show for you?
“That’s something I’ve learned and studied since I was very young from the very first band I was in, The Castilles. It’s a survival mechanism. We played to all kinds of audiences – supermarket openings, drive-ins, to all black audiences, to all rocker audiences… And we knew how to survive in each situation by reading that audience and, within the realm of what you wanted to do, reaching them. So I go out at night, I know everything I can know about the instruments I have onstage. I go out every night cold about the most important instrument – the audience. It makes it interesting.”
Q: In Denver you asked the band to give you 16 bars of Louie Louie on the spur of the moment and they didn’t miss a beat…
Q: What’s next?
Interview by Paul Rees, Editor, Q Magazine.