Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949), nicknamed "The Boss", is an American singer-songwriter. He records and tours with the E Street Band. Springsteen is widely known for his brand of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics, and Americana sentiments centered on his native New Jersey.
Springsteen's recordings have tended to alternate between commercially accessible rock albums and somber folk-oriented works. Much of his status stems from the concerts and marathon shows in which he and the E Street Band perform intense ballads, rousing anthems, and party rock and roll songs, amongst which he intersperses whimsical or deeply emotional stories.
His most successful studio albums, Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A., epitomize his penchant for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily life in America. Because of his support for the presidential campaigns of Senator John Kerry and Senator Barack Obama, Springsteen has gradually become identified with liberal politics. He is also noted for his support of various relief and rebuilding efforts in New Jersey and elsewhere, and for his response to the September 11th attacks, on which his album The Rising reflects.
He has earned numerous awards for his work, including nineteen Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes and an Academy Award, and continues to have a strong global fan base. He has sold more than 65 million albums in the United States and 120 million worldwide.
Life and career
1949???1972: Early years
Springsteen was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and spent his childhood and high school years in Freehold Boro. He lived off South Street in Freehold Boro and attended Freehold High School. His father, Douglas Frederick Springsteen, was, amongst other vocations, a bus driver of Dutch and Irish ancestry; his surname is Dutch for stepping stone. His mother, Adele Ann Zerilli, was a legal secretary of Italian ancestry. His grandfather was born in Vico Equense, a city near Naples. He has an older sister, Virginia - who took photos for the Human Touch and Lucky Town albums - and a younger sister, Pamela. Pamela Springsteen had a brief film career, but left acting to pursue still photography full time. Raised a Roman Catholic, Springsteen attended the St. Rose of Lima parochial school in Freehold Borough, where he was at odds with both the nuns and other students, even though much of his later music reflects a deep Catholic ethos and included many rock-influenced, traditional Irish-Catholic hymns.
In ninth grade he transferred to the public Freehold Regional High School, but did not fit in there either. He completed high school but felt so uncomfortable that he skipped his own graduation ceremony. He briefly attended Ocean County College, but dropped out.
Springsteen had been inspired to take up music at the age of seven after seeing Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show. At 13, he bought his first guitar for $18; later, his mother took out a loan to buy the 16-year-old Springsteen a $60 Kent guitar, an event he later memorialized in his song "The Wish".
In 1965, he went to the house of Tex and Marion Vinyard, who sponsored young bands in town. They helped him become lead guitarist and subsequently the lead singer of The Castiles. The Castiles recorded two original songs at a public recording studio in Brick Township, New Jersey and played a variety of venues, including Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. Marion Vinyard said that she believed the young Springsteen when he promised he would make it big.
New Jersey beach towns such as Asbury Park, New Jersey inspired the themes of ordinary life in Bruce Springsteen's music.
In the late 1960s, Springsteen performed briefly in a power trio known as Earth, playing in clubs in New Jersey. Springsteen acquired the nickname "The Boss" during this period as when he played club gigs with a band he took on the task of collecting the band's nightly pay and distributing it amongst his bandmates. Springsteen, however, has never liked this nickname, due to his dislike of bosses. Previously he had the nickname "Doctor". From 1969 through early 1971, Springsteen performed with Steel Mill, which also featured Danny Federici, Vini Lopez, Vinnie Roslin and later Steve Van Zandt and Robbin Thompson. They went on to play the mid-Atlantic college circuit, and also briefly in California. In January 1970 well-known San Francisco Examiner music critic Philip Elwood gave Springsteen credibility in his glowing assessment of Steel Mill: "I have never been so overwhelmed by totally unknown talent." Elwood went on to praise their "cohesive musicality" and, in particular, singled out Springsteen as "a most impressive composer." During this time Springsteen also performed regularly at small clubs in Asbury Park and along the Jersey Shore, quickly gathering a cult following. Other acts followed over the next two years, as Springsteen sought to shape a unique and genuine musical and lyrical style: Dr Zoom & the Sonic Boom (early???mid 1971), Sundance Blues Band (mid 1971), and The Bruce Springsteen Band (mid 1971???mid 1972). With the addition of pianist David Sancious, the core of what would later become the E Street Band was formed, with occasional temporary additions such as horn sections, "The Zoomettes" (a group of female backing vocalists for "Dr Zoom") and Southside Johnny Lyon on harmonica. Musical genres explored included blues, R&B, jazz, church music, early rock'n'roll, and soul. His prolific songwriting ability, with more words in some individual songs than other artists had in whole albums, brought his skill to the attention of several people who were about to change his life: new managers Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos, and legendary Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, who, under Appel's pressure, auditioned Springsteen in May 1972.
Even after Springsteen gained international acclaim, his New Jersey roots showed through in his music, and he often praised "the great state of New Jersey" in his live shows. Drawing on his extensive local appeal, he routinely sold out consecutive nights in major New Jersey and Philadelphia venues. He also made many surprise appearances at The Stone Pony and other shore nightclubs over the years, becoming the foremost exponent of the Jersey Shore sound.
1972???1974: Initial fight for success
Springsteen signed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1972, with the help of John Hammond, who had signed Bob Dylan to the same label a decade earlier. Springsteen brought many of his New Jersey-based colleagues into the studio with him, thus forming the E Street Band (although it would not be formally named as such for a couple more years). His debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., released in January 1973, established him as a critical favorite, though sales were slow. Because of Springsteen's lyrical poeticism and folk rock-rooted music exemplified on tracks like "Blinded by the Light" and "For You", amongst others, as well as the Columbia and Hammond connections, critics initially compared Springsteen to Bob Dylan. "He sings with a freshness and urgency I haven't heard since I was rocked by 'Like a Rolling Stone'," wrote Crawdaddy magazine editor Peter Knobler in Springsteen's first interview/profile, in March 1973. Crawdaddy "discovered" Springsteen in the rock press and was his earliest champion. Famed music critic Lester Bangs wrote in Creem, 1975, that when Springsteen's first album was released....."many of us dismissed it: he wrote like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, sang like Van Morrison and Robbie Robertson, and led a band that sounded like Van Morrison's." The track "Spirit in the Night" especially showed Morrison's influence, while "Lost in the Flood" was the first of many portraits of Vietnam veterans and "Growin' Up" his first take on the recurring theme of adolescence.
In September 1973 his second album, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, was released, again to critical acclaim but no commercial success. Springsteen's songs became grander in form and scope, with the E Street Band providing a less folky, more R&B vibe and the lyrics often romanticizing teenage street life. "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" and "Incident on 57th Street" would become fan favorites, and the long, rousing "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" continues to rank among Springsteen's most beloved concert numbers.
In the May 22, 1974, issue of Boston's The Real Paper, music critic Jon Landau wrote after seeing a performance at the Harvard Square Theater, "I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time." Landau subsequently became Springsteen's manager and producer, helping to finish the epic new album, Born to Run. Given an enormous budget in a last-ditch effort at a commercially viable record, Springsteen became bogged down in the recording process while striving for a wall of sound production. But, fed by the release of an early mix of "Born to Run" to progressive rock radio, anticipation built toward the album's release. All in all the album took more than 14 months to record, with six months alone spent on the song "Born To Run." During this time Springsteen battled with anger and frustration over the album, saying he heard "sounds in head" that he could not explain to the others in the studio. It was during these recording sessions that "Miami" Steve Van Zandt would stumble into the studio just in time to help Springsteen organize the horn section on "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" (it is his only written contribution to the album), and eventually led to his joining the E Street Band. Van Zandt had been a long-time friend of Springsteen, as well as a collaborator on earlier musical projects, and understood where he was coming from, which helped him to translate some of the sounds Springsteen was hearing. Still, by the end of the grueling recording sessions, Springsteen was not satisfied, and, upon first hearing the finished album, threw the record into the alley and told Jon Landau he would rather just cut the album live at The Bottom Line, a place he often played.
The woman in his life during this time was part-time live-in 20-year-old girlfriend Karen Darvin of Dallas, Texas, who was in New York City pursuing a career in dancing.
On August 13, 1975, Springsteen and the E Street Band began a five-night, 10-show stand at New York's Bottom Line club; it attracted major media attention, was broadcast live on WNEW-FM, and convinced many skeptics that Springsteen was for real. (Decades later, Rolling Stone Magazine would name the stand as one of the 50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll.) With the release of Born to Run on August 25, 1975, Springsteen finally found success: while there were no real hit singles, "Born to Run", "Thunder Road", "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", and "Jungleland" all received massive album-oriented rock airplay and remain perennial favorites on many classic rock stations to this day. With its panoramic imagery, thundering production, and desperate optimism, some fans consider this among the best rock and roll albums of all time and Springsteen's finest work. It established him as a sincere and dynamic rock and roll personality who spoke for and in the voice of a large part of the rock audience. To cap off the triumph, Springsteen appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, on October 27 of that year. So great did the wave of publicity become that Springsteen eventually rebelled against it during his first venture overseas, tearing down promotional posters before a concert appearance in London.
A legal battle with former manager Mike Appel kept Springsteen out of the studio for over two years, during which time he kept the E Street Band together through extensive touring across the U.S. Despite the optimistic fervor with which he often performed, the new songs he was writing and often debuting on stage had taken a more somber tone than much of his previous work. Reaching settlement with Appel in 1977, Springsteen finally returned to the studio, and the subsequent sessions produced Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978). Musically, this album was a turning point of Springsteen's career. Gone were the rapid-fire lyrics, outsized characters, and long, multi-part musical compositions of the first three albums; now the songs were leaner and more carefully drawn and began to reflect Springsteen's growing intellectual and political awareness. Some fans consider Darkness Springsteen's best and most consistent record; tracks such as "Badlands" and "The Promised Land" became concert staples for decades to come, while the track "Prove It All Night" received a significant amount of album rock radio airplay. Other fans would prefer the work of the adventurous early Springsteen. The cross-country 1978 tour to promote the album would become legendary for the intensity, and length, of its shows.
By the late 1970s, Springsteen had earned a reputation in the pop world as a songwriter whose material could provide hits for other bands. Manfred Mann's Earth Band had achieved a U.S. number one pop hit with a heavily rearranged version of "For You" and Greetings' "Blinded by the Light" in early 1977. Patti Smith reached number 13 with her take on Springsteen's unreleased "Because the Night" (which Smith co-wrote) in 1978, while The Pointer Sisters hit number two in 1979 with Springsteen's also-unreleased "Fire".
Springsteen in concert on The River Tour. Drammenshallen, Drammen, Norway, May 5, 1981.
In September 1979, Springsteen and the E Street Band joined the Musicians United for Safe Energy anti-nuclear power collective at Madison Square Garden for two nights, playing an abbreviated setlist while premiering two songs from his upcoming album. The subsequent No Nukes live album, as well as the following summer's No Nukes documentary film, represented the first official recordings and filmings of Springsteen's fabled live act, as well as Springsteen's first tentative dip into political involvement.
Springsteen continued to consolidate his thematic focus on working-class life with the 20-song double album The River in 1980, which finally yielded his first hit Top Ten single as a performer, "Hungry Heart", but also included an intentionally paradoxical range of material from good-time party rockers to emotionally intense ballads. The album sold well, and a long tour in 1980 and 1981 followed, featuring Springsteen's first extended playing of Europe and ending with a series of multi-night arena stands in major cities in the U.S.
The River was followed in 1982 by the stark solo acoustic Nebraska. According to the Marsh biographies, Springsteen was in a depressed state when he wrote this material, and the result is a brutal depiction of American life. The title track on this album is about the murder spree of Charles Starkweather. The album actually started (according to Marsh) as a demo tape for new songs to be played with the E Street Band, but, during the recording process, Springsteen and producer Landau realized they worked better as solo acoustic numbers; several attempts at re-recording the songs in the studio with the E Street Band led them to realize that the original recording, made on a simple, low-tech four-track tape deck in Springsteen's home, were the best versions they were going to get. However, the sessions with the E Street Band were not all for naught, as the band recorded several new songs that Springsteen had written in addition to the Nebraska material, including "Born in the U.S.A." and "Glory Days". These new songs would not see release until two years later, forming the basis of Springsteen's next album.
While Nebraska did not sell especially well, it garnered widespread critical praise (including being named "Album of the Year" by Rolling Stone magazine's critics) and influenced later significant works by other major artists, including U2's album The Joshua Tree. It helped inspire the musical genre known as lo-fi music, becoming a cult favorite among indie-rockers. Springsteen did not tour in conjunction with Nebraska's release.
1984???1991: Commercial and popular phenomenon
Springsteen probably is best known for his album Born in the U.S.A. (1984), which sold 15 million copies in the U.S. alone and became one of the best-selling albums of all time with seven singles hitting the top 10, and the massively successful world tour that followed it. The title track was a bitter commentary on the treatment of Vietnam veterans, some of whom were Springsteen's friends and bandmates. The song was widely misinterpreted as jingoistic, and in connection with the 1984 presidential campaign became the subject of considerable folklore. Springsteen also turned down several million dollars offered by Chrysler Corporation for using the song in a car commercial. (In later years, Springsteen performed the song accompanied only with acoustic guitar to make the song's original meaning more explicitly clear. An acoustic version also appeared on Tracks, a later album.) "Dancing in the Dark" was the biggest of seven hit singles from Born in the U.S.A., peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard music charts. The music video for the song featured a young Courteney Cox dancing on stage with Springsteen, an appearance which helped kickstart the actress's career. The song "Cover Me" was written by Springsteen for Donna Summer, but his record company persuaded him to keep it for the new album. A big fan of Summer's work, Springsteen wrote another one for her, "Protection". A number of the videos for the album were made by noted film directors Brian De Palma or John Sayles. He was featured on the "We Are the World" song and album in 1985.
During the Born in the U.S.A. Tour he met actress Julianne Phillips. They were married in Lake Oswego, Oregon, on May 13, 1985, surrounded by intense media attention. Opposites in background, their marriage was not to be long-lived. Springsteen's 1987 album Tunnel of Love described some of his unhappinesses in the relationship and during the subsequent Tunnel of Love Express tour, Springsteen took up with backup singer Patti Scialfa, as reported by many tabloids. Subsequently, Phillips and Springsteen filed for divorce in 1988. The divorce was finalized in 1989.
Springsteen performing on the Tunnel of Love Express at the Radrennbahn Wei??ensee in East Berlin on July 19, 1988.
The Born in the U.S.A. period represented the height of Springsteen's visibility in popular culture and the broadest audience demographic he would ever reach (this was further helped by releasing Arthur Baker dance mixes of three of the singles). Live/1975???85, a five-record box set (also released on three cassettes or three CDs), was released near the end of 1986 and also became a huge success, selling 13 million units in the U.S. and becoming the first box set to debut at No. 1 on the U.S. album charts. It is one of the best selling live albums of all time. It summed up Springsteen's career to that point and displayed some of the elements that made his shows so powerful to his fans: the switching from mournful dirges to party rockers and back; the communal sense of purpose between artist and audience; the long, intense spoken passages before songs, including those describing Springsteen's difficult relationship with his father; and the instrumental prowess of the E Street Band, such as in the long coda to "Racing in the Street". Despite its popularity, some fans and critics felt the album's song selection could have been better. Springsteen concerts are the subjects of frequent bootleg recording and trading among fans.
By the peak of Springsteen's international megastardom in the mid-80s, there were no less than five Springsteen fanzines circulating at the same time in the UK alone, and many others elsewhere. Gary Desmond's 'Candy's Room', produced in Liverpool, was the first in 1980, quickly followed by Dan French's 'Point Blank', Dave Percival's 'The Fever', Jeff Matthews' 'Rendezvous' and Paul Limbrick's 'Jackson Cage'. In the US, 'Backstreets' started in Seattle and still continues today as a glossy publication, now in communication with Springsteen's management and official website.
After this commercial peak, Springsteen released the much more sedate and contemplative Tunnel of Love (1987), a mature reflection on the many faces of love found, lost and squandered, which only selectively used the E Street Band. It presaged the breakup of his first marriage, to Julianne Phillips. Reflecting the challenges of love in Brilliant Disguise, Springsteen sang:
I heard somebody call your name, from underneath our willow. I saw something tucked in shame, underneath your pillow. Well I've tried so hard baby, but I just can't see. What a woman like you is doing with me.
The subsequent Tunnel of Love Express tour shook up fans with changes to the stage layout, favorites dropped from the set list, and horn-based arrangements; during the European leg in 1988, Springsteen's relationship with E Street Band backup singer Patti Scialfa became public. Later in 1988, Springsteen headlined the truly worldwide Human Rights Now! tour for Amnesty International. In the fall of 1989, he dissolved the E Street Band, and he and Scialfa relocated to California. Springsteen married Scialfa in 1991; they have three children: Evan James (b.1990), Jessica Rae (b.1991) and Sam Ryan (b.1994).
1992???2001: Artistic and commercial up and downs
In 1992, after risking charges of "going Hollywood" by moving to Los Angeles (a radical move for someone so linked to the blue-collar life of the Jersey Shore) and working with session musicians, Springsteen released two albums at once. Human Touch and Lucky Town were even more introspective than any of his previous work. Also different about these albums was the confidence he displayed. As opposed to his first two albums, which dreamed of happiness, and his next four, which showed him growing to fear it, at points during the Lucky Town album, Springsteen actually claims happiness for himself.
Some E Street Band fans voiced (and continue to voice) a low opinion of these albums, (especially Human Touch), and did not follow the subsequent "Other Band" Tour. For other fans, however, who had only come to know Springsteen after the 1975 consolidation of the E Street Band, the "Other Band" Tour was an exciting opportunity to see Springsteen develop a working onstage relationship with a different group of musicians, and to see him explore the Asbury Park soul-and-gospel base in some of his classic material.
An electric band appearance on the acoustic MTV Unplugged television program (that was later released as In Concert/MTV Plugged) was poorly received and further cemented fan dissatisfaction. Springsteen seemed to realize this a few years hence when he spoke humorously of his late father during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech:
I've gotta thank him because ??? what would I conceivably have written about without him? I mean, you can imagine that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I would have written just happy songs ??? and I tried it in the early '90s and it didn't work; the public didn't like it.
A multiple Grammy Award winner, Springsteen also won an Academy Award in 1994 for his song "Streets of Philadelphia", which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Philadelphia. The song, along with the film, was applauded by many for its sympathetic portrayal of a gay man dying of AIDS. The music video for the song shows Springsteen's actual vocal performance, recorded using a hidden microphone, to a prerecorded instrumental track. This was a technique developed on the "Brilliant Disguise" video.
In 1995, after temporarily re-organizing the E Street Band for a few new songs recorded for his first Greatest Hits album (a recording session that was chronicled in the documentary Blood Brothers), he released his second (mostly) solo guitar album, The Ghost of Tom Joad, inspired by Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass, a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dale Maharidge. This was generally less well-received than the similar Nebraska, due to the minimal melody, twangy vocals, and political nature of most of the songs, although some praised it for giving voice to immigrants and others who rarely have one in American culture. The lengthy, worldwide, small-venue solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour that followed successfully featured many of his older songs in drastically reshaped acoustic form, although Springsteen had to explicitly remind his audiences to be quiet and not to clap during the performances.
Following the tour, Springsteen moved back to New Jersey with his family. In 1998, Springsteen released the sprawling, four-disc box set of out-takes, Tracks. Subsequently, Springsteen would acknowledge that the 1990s were a "lost period" for him: "I didn't do a lot of work. Some people would say I didn't do my best work."
In 1999, Springsteen and the E Street Band officially came together again and went on the extensive Reunion Tour, lasting over a year. Highlights included a record sold-out, 15-show run at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey to kick off the American leg of the tour.
Springsteen's Reunion Tour with the E Street Band ended with a triumphant ten-night, sold-out engagement at New York City's Madison Square Garden in mid-2000 and controversy over a new song, "American Skin (41 Shots)", about the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. The final shows at Madison Square Garden were recorded and resulted in an HBO Concert, with corresponding DVD and album releases as Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live in New York City.
2002???present: Return to mainstream success
The scene outside the Giants Stadium parking lot for banner-marked, record-setting, 10-night stand of The Rising Tour during July 2003.
In 2002, Springsteen released his first studio effort with the full band in 18 years, The Rising, produced by Brendan O'Brien. The album, mostly a reflection on the September 11 attacks, was a critical and popular success. (Many of the songs were influenced by phone conversations Springsteen had with family members of victims of the attacks, who in their obituary, it was mentioned how his music touched their life.) The title track gained airplay in several radio formats, and the record became Springsteen's best-selling album of new material in 15 years. Kicked off by an early-morning Asbury Park appearance on The Today Show, The Rising Tour commenced, barnstorming through a series of single-night arena stands in the U.S. and Europe to promote the album in 2002, then returning for large-scale, multiple-night stadium shows in 2003. While Springsteen had maintained a loyal hardcore fan base everywhere (and particularly in Europe), his general popularity had dipped over the years in some southern and midwestern regions of the U.S. But it was still strong in Europe and along the U.S. coasts, and he played an unprecedented 10 nights in Giants Stadium in New Jersey, a ticket-selling feat to which no other musical act has come close. During these shows Springsteen thanked those fans who were attending multiple shows and those who were coming from long distances or another country; the advent of robust Bruce-oriented online communities had made such practices more common. The Rising Tour came to a final conclusion with three nights in Shea Stadium, highlighted by renewed controversy over "American Skin" and a guest appearance by Bob Dylan.
During the early 2000s, Springsteen became a visible advocate for the revitalization of Asbury Park, and played an annual series of winter holiday concerts there to benefit various local businesses, organizations, and causes. These shows were explicitly intended for the devoted fans, featuring numbers such as the unreleased (until Tracks) E Street Shuffle outtake "Thundercrack", a rollicking group-participation song that would mystify casual Springsteen fans. He also frequently rehearses for tours in Asbury Park; some of his most devoted followers even go so far as to stand outside the building to hear what fragments they can of the upcoming shows. The song "My City of Ruins" was originally written about Asbury Park, in honor of the attempts to revitalize the city. Looking for an appropriate song for a post-Sept. 11 benefit concert honoring New York City, he selected "My City of Ruins," which was immediately recognized as an emotional highlight of the concert, with its gospel themes and its heartfelt exhortations to "Rise up!" The song became associated with post-9/11 New York, and he chose it to close The Rising album and as an encore on the subsequent tour.
At the Grammy Awards of 2003, Springsteen performed The Clash's "London Calling" along with Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, and E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt and No Doubt's bassist, Tony Kanal, in tribute to Joe Strummer; Springsteen and the Clash had once been considered multiple-album-dueling rivals at the time of the double The River and the triple Sandinista!. In 2004, Springsteen and the E Street Band participated in the "Vote for Change" tour, along with John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bright Eyes, the Dave Matthews Band, Jackson Browne, and other musicians. All concerts were to be held in swing states, to benefit the liberalism political organization group America Coming Together and to encourage people to register and vote. A finale was held in Washington, D.C., bringing many of the artists together. Several days later, Springsteen held one more such concert in New Jersey, when polls showed that state surprisingly close. While in past years Springsteen had played benefits for causes in which he believed ??? against nuclear energy, for Vietnam veterans, Amnesty International, and the Christic Institute ??? he had always refrained from explicitly endorsing candidates for political office (indeed he had rejected the efforts of Walter Mondale to attract an endorsement during the 1984 Reagan "Born in the U.S.A." flap). This new stance led to criticism and praise from the expected partisan sources. Springsteen's "No Surrender" became the main campaign theme song for John Kerry's unsuccessful presidential campaign; in the last days of the campaign, he performed acoustic versions of the song and some of his other old songs at Kerry rallies.
An acoustic guitar number during the solo Devils & Dust Tour performance at the Festhalle Frankfurt, June 15, 2005.
Devils & Dust was released on April 26, 2005, and was recorded without the E Street Band. It is a low-key, mostly acoustic album, in the same vein as Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad although with a little more instrumentation. Some of the material was written almost 10 years earlier during, or shortly after, the Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, a couple of them being performed then but never released. The title track concerns an ordinary soldier's feelings and fears during the Iraq War. Starbucks rejected a co-branding deal for the album, due in part to some sexually explicit content but also because of Springsteen's anti-corporate politics. The album entered the album charts at No. 1 in 10 countries (United States, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Ireland). Springsteen began the solo Devils & Dust Tour at the same time as the album's release, playing both small and large venues. Attendance was disappointing in a few regions, and everywhere (other than in Europe) tickets were easier to get than in the past. Unlike his mid-1990s solo tour, he performed on piano, electric piano, pump organ, autoharp, ukulele, banjo, electric guitar, and stomping board, as well as acoustic guitar and harmonica, adding variety to the solo sound. (Offstage synthesizer, guitar, and percussion were also used for some songs.) Unearthly renditions of "Reason to Believe", "The Promised Land", and Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" jolted audiences to attention, while rarities, frequent set list changes, and a willingness to keep trying even through audible piano mistakes kept most of his loyal audiences happy.
In November 2005, Sirius Satellite Radio started a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week radio station on Channel 10 called E Street Radio. This channel featured commercial-free Bruce Springsteen music, including rare tracks, interviews, and daily concerts of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band recorded throughout their career.
Springsteen and The Sessions Band performing on their tour at the Fila Forum, Milan, Italy on May 12, 2006.
In April 2006, Springsteen released We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, an American roots music project focused around a big folk sound treatment of 15 songs popularized by the radical musical activism of Pete Seeger. It was recorded with a large ensemble of musicians including only Patti Scialfa, Soozie Tyrell, and The Miami Horns from past efforts. In contrast to previous albums, this was recorded in only three one-day sessions, and frequently one can hear Springsteen calling out key changes live as the band explores its way through the tracks. The Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour began the same month, featuring the 18-strong ensemble of musicians dubbed The Seeger Sessions Band (and later shortened to the The Sessions Band). Seeger Sessions material was heavily featured, as well as a handful of (usually drastically rearranged) Springsteen numbers. The tour proved very popular in Europe, selling out everywhere and receiving some excellent reviews, but newspapers reported that a number of U.S. shows suffered from sparse attendance. By the end of 2006, the Seeger Sessions tour toured Europe twice and toured America for only a short span. Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band: Live in Dublin, containing selections from three nights of November 2006 shows at the The Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, was released the following June.
Springsteen performing with drummer Max Weinberg behind him, on the Magic Tour stop at Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida, August 15, 2008.
Springsteen's next album, titled Magic, was released on October 2, 2007. Recorded with the E Street Band, it featured 10 new Springsteen songs plus "Long Walk Home," performed once with the Sessions band, and a hidden track (the first included on a Springsteen studio release), "Terry's Song," a tribute to Springsteen's long-time assistant Terry Magovern who died on July 30, 2007. The first single, "Radio Nowhere," was made available for a free download on August 28. On October 7, Magic debuted at number 1 in Ireland and the UK. Greatest Hits reentered the Irish charts at number 57, and Live in Dublin almost cracked the top 20 in Norway again. Sirius Satellite Radio also restarted E Street Radio on Channel 10 on September 27, 2007, in anticipation of Magic. Radio conglomerate Clear Channel Communications was alleged to have sent an edict to its classic rock stations to not play any songs from the new album, while continuing to play older Springsteen material. However, Clear Channel Adult Alternative (or "AAA") station KBCO did play tracks from the alubum, underminning the allegations of a corporate blackout. The Springsteen and E Street Band Magic Tour began at the Hartford Civic Center with the album's release and was routed through North America and Europe. Springsteen and the band performed live on NBC's Today Show in advance of the opener. Longtime E Street Band organist Danny Federici went off the tour in November 2007 due to melanoma; he died on April 17, 2008, after a three-year battle with the disease.
In April 2008, Springsteen announced his endorsement of U.S. Senator Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. In a video shot at an Ohio rally for Obama, Springsteen discussed the importance of "truth, transparency and integrity in government, the right of every American to have a job, a living wage, to be educated in a decent school, and a life filled with the dignity of work, the promise and the sanctity of home...But today those freedoms have been damaged and curtailed by eight years of a thoughtless, reckless and morally-adrift administration."
On June 18, 2008, Springsteen appeared live from Europe at the Tim Russert tribute at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to play one of Russert's favorite songs, "Thunder Road." Springsteen dedicated the song to Russert, who was "one of Springsteen's biggest fans."
Springsteen made a few solo acoustic performances in support of Obama's campaign in October 2008, culminating with a November 2 rally where he debuted "Working On A Dream" in a duet with Scialfa.
Springsteen at a rally for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama
Cleveland, Ohio on November 2, 2008
On November 4, the first song played over the loudspeakers after Obama's victory speech as president-elect in Chicago's Grant Park was "The Rising".
Springsteen's Working on a Dream album was released in late January 2009.
Springsteen was the musical opener for the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009 which was attended by over 400,000. He performed "The Rising" with an all-female choir. Later he performed Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" with Pete Seeger.
On January 11, 2009, Springsteen won the Golden Globe Award for Best Song for "The Wrestler", from the Mickey Rourke film by the same name.
Springsteen performed at the halftime show at Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009, agreeing to do it after many previous offers: ???It was sort of, well, if we don???t do it now, what are we waiting for? I want to do it while I???m alive.??? A few days before the game, Springsteen gave a rare press conference, where he promised a "twelve-minute party." When asked if he would be nervous performing before such a large audience, Springsteen alluded to the "We Are One" concert, which took place at the Lincoln Memorial: "You???ll have a lot of crazy football fans, but you won???t have Lincoln staring over your shoulder. That takes some of the pressure off." His 12:45 set, with the E Street Band and the Miami Horns, included abbreviated renditions of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", "Born to Run", "Working on a Dream," and "Glory Days," the latter complete with football references. The set of appearances and promotional activities led Springsteen to say, "This has probably been the busiest month of my life."
On April 1, 2009, Springsteen kicked off the Working on a Dream Tour in San Jose, California. The tour was hit by controversy in February 2009 when ticket site and tour partner Ticketmaster was found to be redirecting customers to their subsidiary TicketsNow, where tickets were being sold at inflated prices, despite the availability of face-value tickets elsewhere. Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff issued a swift apology, following a furious statement from Springsteen, who accused the site of "the abuse of our fans and our trust". The tour's shows featured few songs from the new album, with instead set lists dominated by Springsteen classics and selections reflecting the ongoing late-2000s recession. The tour also featured Springsteen playing songs requested by audience members holding up signs ??? usually garage rock or punk rock classics or older, more obscure entries in Springsteen's back catalog ??? in a practice dating back to the final stages of the Magic Tour. Drummer Max Weinberg was replaced for some shows by his 18-year-old son Jay Weinberg, so that the former could serve his role as bandleader on the debuting The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.
Springsteen was part of the lineup of The Clearwater Concert, a celebration of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday which took place on May 3, 2009 at Madison Square Garden.
During the Working on a Dream Tour, Springsteen and the band made their first real foray in the world of music festivals, headlining nights at the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands, the Bonnaroo Music Festival in the United States ??? where Springsteen also sat in with Phish for three songs ??? and the Glastonbury Festival and Hard Rock Calling in the UK.. He also was the headliner of the Festival des Vieilles Charrues in Brittany, France in July, his only tour stop in France. His son Evan participated to the concert playing guitar.
Springsteen family greets Obama family on stage at rally in Cleveland, Ohio on November 2, 2008.
Springsteen was a bachelor until the age of 35, when he married 25 year old Julianne Phillips (born May 6, 1960) in Lake Oswego, Oregon on May 13, 1985. The marriage helped her acting career flourish, although the two were opposites in background, and his traveling took its toll on their relationship. The final blow came when Bruce began an affair with Patti Scialfa (born July 29, 1953), whom he had dated briefly in 1984 shortly after she joined the band. Phillips and Springsteen separated in September 1988 and on August 30, 1988, Julianne filed for divorce. The Springsteen/Phillips divorce was finalized on March 1, 1989.
After his wife filed for divorce in 1988, Bruce began living with Scialfa. Springsteen received much criticism for the hastiness in which he and Scialfa took their relationship. In a 1995 interview with The Advocate, Springsteen spoke about the negative publicity the couple subsequently received. "It's a strange society that assumes it has the right to tell people whom they should love and whom they shouldn't. But the truth is, I basically ignored the entire thing as much as I could. I said, "Well, all I know is, this feels real, and maybe I have got a mess going here in some fashion, but that's life." In 1990, Springsteen and Scialfa welcomed their first child, son Evan James. They were expecting their second child, daughter Jessica Rae (born December 30, 1991), when Bruce and Patti married on June 8, 1991. "I went through a divorce, and it was really difficult and painful and I was very frightened about getting married again. So part of me said, Hey, what does it matter? But it does matter. It's very different than just living together. First of all, stepping up publicly- which is what you do: You get your license, you do all the social rituals- is a part of your place in society and in some way part of society's acceptance of you...Patti and I both found that it did mean something." The couple's youngest child, Sam Ryan, was born on January 5, 1994. The family lives in Rumson, New Jersey, and owns a horse farm in nearby Colts Neck. His eldest son, Evan, is currently a sophomore at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
In November 2000, Springsteen filed legal action against Jeff Burgar which accused him of registering the domain brucespringsteen.com (along with several other celebrity domains) in bad faith to funnel web users to his Celebrity 1000 portal site. Once the legal complaint was filed, Burgar pointed the domain to a Springsteen biography and message board. In February 2001, Springsteen lost his dispute with Burgar. A WIPO panel ruled 2 to 1 in favor of Burgar.
In 2009, Springsteen was named as the other man in a divorce filing by Arthur J. Kelly against his wife Ann C. Kelly. Both Springsteen and Ann Kelly strongly denied the allegation.
E Street Band
Main article: E Street Band
The E Street Band is considered to have started in October 1972, even though it was not officially known as such until September 1974. The E Street Band was inactive from the end of 1988 through early 1999, except for a brief reunion in 1995.
Bruce Springsteen - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano
Garry Tallent - bass guitar, tuba
Clarence "Big Man" Clemons - saxophone, percussion, backing vocals, , larger-than-life persona and Springsteen foil
Max Weinberg - drums, percussion (joined September 1974)
Roy Bittan - piano, synthesizer (joined September 1974)
Steven Van Zandt - lead guitar, backing vocals, mandolin (officially joined July 1975 after playing in previous bands; left in 1984 to go solo; rejoined in early 1995, however made appearances during the "Other Band" Tour).
Nils Lofgren - guitar, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals (replaced Steve Van Zandt in June 1984; remained in group after Van Zandt returned)
Patti Scialfa - backing and duet vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion (joined June 1984; became Springsteen's wife in 1991)
Soozie Tyrell - violin, acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocals (joined 2002, occasional appearances before that)
Charles Giordano - organ, accordion (originally a Sessions Band member, joined the E Street Band on a temporary basis in late 2007, during the illness of Danny Federici. Continued playing with the E Street Band after Federici died in April 2008.)
Jay Weinberg - drums, percussion (substituting for his father during parts of the 2009 tour)
Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez - drums (inception through February 1974, when asked to resign)
David Sancious - keyboards (June 1973 to August 1974)
Ernest "Boom" Carter - drums (February to August 1974)
Suki Lahav - violin, backing vocals (September 1974 to March 1975)
Danny Federici - organ, accordion, glockenspiel (died on April 17, 2008, melanoma)
Music used in films
Springsteen's music has long been intertwined with film. His music was first linked with the silver screen in the 1983 John Sayles' film Baby, It's You, which featured several songs from Born to Run. The relationship Springsteen established with Sayles would re-surface in later years, with Sayles directing videos for songs from Born in the U.S.A. and Tunnel of Love. The song "(Just Around the Corner to the) Light of Day" was written for the early Michael J. Fox/Joan Jett vehicle Light of Day.
His original work has frequently been used in films and he won an Oscar for his song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the Jonathan Demme film Philadelphia (1993). He was nominated for a second Oscar for "Dead Man Walkin'", from the movie Dead Man Walking (1995).
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Springsteen at a book signing event in Asbury Park, New Jersey on June 26, 2004
His song "Missing" plays during the opening credits of Sean Penn's 1995 movie, The Crossing Guard. It was released in 2003 on "The Essential Bruce Springsteen."
His song "Secret Garden", which first appeared on 1995's Greatest Hits, was used in Cameron Crowe's 1996 film Jerry Maguire.
Although it doesn't appear on the soundtrack album, his song "Iceman" was used in the 2007 movie In the Land of Women.
Springsteen also wrote an eponymous song for Darren Aronofsky's 2008 film The Wrestler. The song was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and nominated for the MTV Movie Award as "Best Song From a Movie".
The album "The River" was also well mentioned in the movie "Reign Over Me" with Adam Sandler. Two songs from that very album, "Drive All Night" and "Out In The Streets", were played as background music.
In the 1997 film Cop Land, Sylvester Stallone's character plays the songs "Drive All Night" and "Stolen Car" from The River on his turntable.
Films inspired by music
In turn, films have been inspired by his music, including The Indian Runner, written and directed by Sean Penn, which Penn has specifically noted as being inspired by Springsteen's song "Highway Patrolman".
Kevin Smith is an admitted fan of fellow New Jersey alumnus Springsteen and named his film Jersey Girl after the Tom Waits song which Springsteen made famous. The song was also used on the soundtrack.
Springsteen made his first on-screen appearance as a cameo in High Fidelity and it was voted "Best Cameo in a Movie" at the MTV Movie Awards.