Bruce Springsteen Is Living in the Moment

“Letter to You,” his new album with the E Street Band, is built on lessons and skills accumulated in the past. But the Boss is focused on where he stands now — and where he’s going next. Here is an excerpt from an article about Bruce Springsteen by for The New York Times.

From left: Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano, Bruce Springsteen, Roy Bittan and Garry Tallent in the studio. Springsteen’s new album with the E Street Band, “Letter to You,” is due Friday.
Credit…Rob DeMartin

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Every music fan with blood burning in their veins has felt the sting of missing live shows since March, but the pain has been particularly acute for Bruce Springsteen, an artist who’s spent the past six decades onstage, yet says he’s just now hitting his stride.

“I’m at a point in my playing life and artistic life where I’ve never felt as vital,” he said on a Zoom call from his New Jersey home. “My band is at its best, and we have so much accumulated knowledge and craft about what we do that this was a time in my life where I said, ‘I want to use that as much as I can.’”

Springsteen, 71, was stationed in a small, utilitarian home office with primary-color file folders hanging on the wall in place of flashier décor, to discuss “Letter to You,” his first record with the E Street Band in six years, and an Apple Plus film of the same name that captures the kinetic experience of recording it last November.

“Letter to You” often harks back to a time much earlier than that, though: The elegiac rocker “Last Man Standing” is an ode to the band Springsteen joined as a teenager, the Castiles (and a meditation on the fact that, after the death of his friend George Theiss in 2018, Springsteen became the only surviving member). And three of the album’s songs originated almost 50 years ago, when Springsteen was an unknown, writing florid, Dylan-esque ballads.

“The record is the first record that I’ve made where the subject is the music itself,” he said. “It’s about popular music. It’s about being in a rock band, over the course of time. And it’s also a direct conversation between me and my fans, at a level that I think they’ve come to expect over the years.”

The closest Springsteen has come to picking up a quarantine hobby (“I’m not a big hobby guy”) has been hosting a Sirius XM radio show, “From My Home to Yours,” a project he’s thrown himself into with palpable gusto. He ran to get his laptop to giddily read off a list of artists whose music has been exciting him recently: J.S. Ondara, Mondo Cozmo, H.E.R., Orville Peck, Larkin Poe and Bon Iver, to name a few. (He said he hasn’t yet listened to Taylor Swift’s “Folklore,” but “all I’ve heard is good things about it.”)

Having the time to listen is, at least, one upside of being stuck in place. “I’ve been really enjoying sort of being deeply back into music,” Springsteen said, “almost like I was when I was a kid. I was always in the record store, looking for the next thing.”

[Edited excerpts from the conversation follow.]

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

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