Bruce Springsteen is the Boss of artistic inspiration.
Last spring he gave the keynote address at SXSW, which provided amazing insight into his creative sparks and process and provided inspiration to the next generation of artists at SXSW.
Now, he is providing the kind of wisdom-from-experience that should reach into the hearts and minds of anyone who wants to create and perform. As posted in KadmusArts’ Daily Culture News feed, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, recently wrote a feature piece on the life and career of Bruce Springsteen. This is the story of an artist who continues to grow, develop, change and explore. Remnick captures the essence of the rare rock ‘n roller who isn’t just playing the same ol’ hits, but one who keeps writing, keeps creating, and keeps connecting with audiences.
The key to Springsteen’s ongoing link with the audience is that he isn’t a performer who thinks it’s all about himself. Rather, for Springsteen everything is about the audience.
Here are a few of Springsteen’s words from Remnick’s article:
I want an extreme experience [for the audience]…with your hands hurting, your voice sore, and your sexual organs stimulated.
For an adult, the world is constantly trying to clamp down on itself…Routine, responsibility, decay of institutions, corruption: this is all the world closing in. Music, when it’s really great, pries that shit back open and lets people back in, it lets light in, and air in, and energy in, and sends people home with that and sends me back to the hotel with it. People carry that with them sometimes for a very long period of time.
The essence of the way this band moves is one of soul. It’s supposed to be overwhelming. You shouldn’t be able to catch your breath. That’s what being a front man is all about — the idea of having something supple underneath you, that machine that roars and can turn on a dime.
You’re the shaman, a little bit, you’re leading the congregation…But you are the same as everybody else in the sense that your troubles are the same, you’re problems are the same, you’ve got your blessings, you’ve got your sins, you’ve got the things you can do well, you’ve got the things you fuck up all the time. And so you’re a conduit.
We’re repairmen — repairmen with a toolbox. If I repair a little of myself, I’ll repair a little of you. That’s the job.
It’s theatre, you know… I’m a theatrical performer. I’m whispering in your ear, and you’re dreaming my dreams, and them I’m getting a feeling for yours. I’ve been doing that for forty years.
[As Springsteen’s bandmate Steve Van Zandt told him]: People don’t need you talking about your life. Nobody gives a shit about a your life. They need you for their lives. That’s your thing. Giving some logic and reason and sympathy and passion to this cold, fragmented, confusing world — that’s your gift. Explaining their lives to them. Their lives, not yours.
[On his recent more political songs]: They function at the very edges of politics at best, though they try to administer to its center. You have to be satisfied with that. You have to understand it’s a long road, and there have been people doing some version of what we’re doing on this tour going all the way back, and there will be people doing it after us. I think one thing this record tries to do is to remind people that there is a continuity that is passed on from generation to generation, a set of ideas expressed in myriad different ways: books, protests, essays, songs, around the kitchen table. So these ideas are ever-present. And you are a raindrop.
That ticket is my handshake. That ticket is me promising you that it’s gonna be all the way every chance I get. That’s my contract. And ever since I was a young guy I took that seriously.
A transformation takes place. That’s what we’re selling. We’re selling that possibility. It’s half a joke: I go out onstage and — snap — ‘Are you ready to be transformed?’ What? At a rock show? By a guy with a guitar? Part of it is a goof, and part of it is, Let’s do it, let’s see if we can.
I worked harder than anyone else I saw.
Towards the end of the article, Remnick recounts seeing a sign in English at one of Bruce’s shows in Spain: “Bruce, Thanks for Making Our Lives Better.”
Springsteen has made more than our lives better; he’s doing the same for music, live performance, and for art.
- Bill Reichblum