Bruce Springsteen

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Bruce Springsteen at the 2012 Roskilde Festival

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949 in Long Branch , New Jersey ) is an American rock musician . The band leader of the E Street Band is an Oscar and Tony Award winner as well as a 20-time Grammy winner.

Springsteen is extremely popular worldwide and one of the most commercially successful rock musicians ever. He has sold more than 60 million albums in the United States alone, and around 130 million worldwide including DVDs. His songs are mostly about everyday American life. His nickname " The Boss " came about in the 1970s when he paid his band members their fees in cash after the performances .


Childhood and youth

Bruce Springsteen grew up in a Catholic home in Freehold , New Jersey , along with two younger sisters, Virginia and Pamela Springsteen , in simple circumstances. The parents - especially the mother Adele - were very religious and tried to convey this to the children.

His father Douglas Springsteen was of Irish- Dutch origin. Bruce describes him as a choleric, gruff person who found it difficult to make emotional contact with the children. Douglas was not very successful in various jobs, for example in a carpet weaving mill, as a taxi driver and as a prison guard. Bruce Springsteen remembers his father as a frustrated man who often sits in the kitchen drunk at night. His mother, Adele Zerilli, is of Italian descent . He describes her as a warm, active woman who organized family life. She also worked as a secretary. The Springsteen family's economic circumstances were modest. Due to financial difficulties, a social decline followed in the mid-1950s, so that the family had to move to a neighborhood mainly populated by immigrants and marines.

On the one hand, Springsteen rebelled against his father and tried as little as possible to resemble him; on the other hand, he adopted his values ​​from the world of work (including distrust of intellectuals) and his enthusiasm for cars. This ambivalence also characterizes his relationship with his hometown and New Jersey, as well as with organized religion.

Neighbors described the boy as a carefree, active child. This situation changed when she entered the St. Rose of Lima School , run by Franciscan Sisters. Springsteen became a problem child who was in constant conflict with the teachers and increasingly withdrawn into himself. He developed a feeling for isolation that would accompany him well into adult life. He himself later commented on this as follows: “I had many plans, but I was always the one who stood outside and looked longingly inside. I felt lonely very early on. Everyone in my father's family were outsiders . ”Even in his youth, Springsteen found the future prospects offered to him as a working-class child oppressive. His parents' life seemed to him to be a dead end.

At the age of ten, his enthusiasm for rock music developed , first for Elvis Presley , later also for the Rolling Stones and the Beatles , and he was given his first guitar. At the age of 14 he moved to the regional high school in Freehold and discovered rock music as a way to escape the narrowness of his previous life. The Springsteen cultural life was largely dominated by the television and Bruce had almost no access to literature. Through Bob Dylan he got to know the possibilities of expression in lyrics. Later he wrote about this time the song No Surrender for the 1984 album Born in the USA : "We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school" and in 1988 on the occasion of Dylan's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame : "He was the brother that I never had. […] Like Elvis freed your body, Bob freed your mind. ” He started practicing guitar seriously and played in local bands. In 1967 he dropped out of high school and attended nearby Ocean County College for a year .

In 1966 his parents moved to California , where his father found work as a bus driver in San Mateo. Bruce stayed in his parents' house in New Jersey and later in a room in Asbury Park . He didn't have a regular job, rather he spent the time playing music, softball , surfing, girls and driving. In 1968 Springsteen, who later aptly described the situations and feelings of the working class , had his only job outside of the music scene, a job as a gardener for a few weeks.

His origins have influenced him a lot. In doing so, he developed an extremely ambivalent relationship to his roots. He once said that as a teenager he found his hometown to be narrow-minded and poor. Today he lives near Freehold again. The desolation of working-class life and the mapped out résumés of the working class as well as their attempts to break out of their circumstances should become the defining themes of many of his songs. He has also repeatedly made his conflict-laden relationship with authorities - especially his father - an issue.

Bruce Springsteen is married to the singer Patti Scialfa for the second time and has three children, two sons and the daughter Jessica Rae , who is a show jumper.

1965–1974: musical beginnings

His first musical influences were country and western hits by Gene Autry , Roy Rogers and Hank Williams , which were often heard at home and with his grandmother. They can be clearly heard on albums like Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad . In 1965 he joined the band 'Castiles' - the name came from a soap - and played quite successfully in small clubs like the famous New York 'Cafe Wha?'. Under the direction of manager Tex Vineyard, the castiles gained local fame and recorded two singles, Baby I and That's what you get . Springsteen's musical ambitions met with little approval from his parents. If you believe his stories, there were two things in the Springsteen family that were unpopular: firstly, himself and secondly, his guitar. At least that was his announcement to Growin 'up (Live 1975–1985): “There were two things that were unpopular in my house: one was me. The other one was my guitar. "

Springsteen 1981 in Norway

In 1968 he founded a new band called 'Earth', a trio with the "classic" line-up of guitar, bass and drums. The band probably only existed from August 1968 to February 1969, but had more than a dozen gigs during this time. In March 1969, Springsteen formed the band 'Child' with people he met at the Upstage Club. In November of the same year they changed the name to ' Steel Mill '. Her hard rock brought Springsteen more small hits. Three singles were recorded: The Train Song, He's guilty and Going back to Georgia . The recordings appear regularly today on CD exchanges.

In January 1971 Springsteen left Steel Mill because he wanted to move into a different musical direction. He bridged the time until a new band was formed with guest appearances, for example with Steven Van Zandt & The Big Bad Bobby Williams Band, whose band leader was the later guitarist of the E Street Band. During this time there were various jam sessions with different musicians as well as solo acoustic performances. From these jam sessions the band 'Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom ', in which all tangible people were involved. This went so far that four members had joined the band as Monopoly players and did just that on stage: play Monopoly.

In addition to Van Zandt, who was also part of the party, the later E-Street band members Garry Tallent , David Sancious , Vini Lopez and Danny Federici 'Dr. Zoom 'on. A Southside Johnny member, for whose band ' Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes ' Springsteen and Van Zandt would later write and produce many songs (It's been a long time), was also a member of Dr. Zoom.

After its end, Springsteen played intermittently with Van Zandt and Southside Johnny, Garry Tallent and Vini Lopez in the Sundance Blues Band, before founding the Bruce Springsteen Band in July 1971. It can be seen as the stripped-down version of 'Dr. Zoom 'and is considered the forerunner of the' E Street Band '.

The band, with which Springsteen played from October 1972 and recorded his first studio album Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ in late 1972 , had no name but is considered an early E Street band. It was officially announced with this name only from 1974. It refers to the address of the band's keyboardist at the time, David Sancious.

The Springsteen of these "early years" is described by contemporary witnesses as a bustling person, driven by manic zeal for work, but at the same time shy and especially naive in business matters, who only thawed on the stage and showed leadership qualities.

After the impresario John Hammond became aware of Springsteen, he signed the musician for Columbia Records . Contrary to the plans of his manager, who had planned the recording of a folk album , Springsteen took his band into the studio. In January 1973, the debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ was released The record is considered a good, if not outstanding, rock record. Musically it was still quite conventional to a large extent and had clear folk influences. She already showed Springsteen's narrative talent. His texts were rich in images, sprawling descriptions of the life of a youth in New Jersey. The title of the record refers to a seaside resort on the Atlantic coast of New Jersey which, with its many clubs, was a Mecca for aspiring musicians in the 1960s . Asbury Park was a popular attraction for young people with its colorful nightlife and offered many bands performance opportunities.

"Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin 'fortunes better than they do / This boardwalk life for me is through / You know you ought to quit this scene too"
From the lyrics by:
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

Springsteen's debut LP was - even if it was praised by critics - as was the second, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle , which followed in the fall of the same year , initially a flop. Because of its musically and lyrically dense, lively and multi-layered portrayal of life in New Jersey and New York from the perspective of an adolescent, The Wild… is now not only one of his best records, but also one of the unjustly neglected pearls of the early 1970s .

1975–1981: The breakthrough with Born to Run

It was only with the third album, Born to Run , that the commercial breakthrough came in 1975. The album made it into the top five of the hit list, with the title song Born to Run there was also a top 20 single hit. The album was elaborately produced, Springsteen used a rich set of instruments; in addition to the usual rock occupation were piano , Fender Rhodes - electric piano , glockenspiel , harpsichord , saxophone , trumpet ( Randy Brecker ), flugelhorn and Hammond organ used. This produced a very dense and full sound that is reminiscent of Phil Spector's so-called " Wall of Sound ". The saxophone and the piano in the style of Billy Joel or Meat Loaf stand out in particular . Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan , who later also played a part in Meat Loaf's greatest success Bat out of Hell , now played drums and piano, respectively. But the music is not always completely free from bombast and pathos. In the following example from the title Born to Run , the piano brings powerfully played chord blocks alternating with broken chords in 16th note values (see sheet music and audio example ? / I ). Audio file / audio sample

Some of the tracks on the first three albums, such as Jungleland, are made up of several parts and clearly exceed the 4-minute limit otherwise common in rock. The title Jungleland begins on Born to Run with a “classical” piano introduction (see audio sample ? / I ), which is accompanied by strings. The middle part is provided with the "usual rock cast". This is followed by an intimate jazz part (see sheet music and audio sample ? / I ) with saxophone, bass, piano and typical jazz drumming before it becomes more rocky again and the song ends with the piano introduction. Audio file / audio sample Audio file / audio sample

Because of the album's success, Springsteen hit both Time and Newsweek covers that same week - a new star was born. This was viewed with skepticism by the audience, fellow musicians and critics. Many suspected media hype behind this . A year earlier, at a Springsteen concert in Cambridge, a music critic had already written: "I have seen the future of rock'n'roll, and your name is Bruce Springsteen." The music critic's name: Jon Landau , who later became Springsteen's manager after he separated from his previous manager Mike Appel after a lengthy legal battle. Due to this dispute, the release of his next album Darkness on the Edge of Town was delayed until 1978.

The principle of the “wall of sound” is no longer used on this album. The pieces are structured more simply and the individual instruments are more clearly distinguished from one another. The organ played by Danny Federici and even more the electric guitar come to the fore. Influences from Duane Eddy , Jimmy Page and Roy Buchanan can be heard. Springsteen's singing sounds much more pressed and emphatically masculine. His music develops on this and the following records in the direction of a simple and powerful rock sound.

While Born to Run was still characterized by a euphoric mood, Darkness is much more pessimistic. This can already be seen in the title of the record. Springsteen himself commented on this album as follows: “There's less of a sense of a free ride in 'Darkness' than in 'Born to Run'. There's more a sense of: if you wanna ride, you're gonna pay, and you better keep riding. There's just a little more world awareness. "(" There is less the mood of free play on 'Darkness' than on 'Born to Run'. The mood is more like: If you want to play, you have to pay for it. And you prefer to play further. It's just a bit more reflective. ")

In 1978 there was a collaboration with Patti Smith , who landed a hit with the Springsteen composition Because The Night . In 1979 Springsteen took part in the concert No Nukes, where he and other artists campaigned against the use of nuclear power.

The double album The River (1980) showed his musical abilities in their full range, from the ballad - as in the title song (see sheet music and audio sample ? / I ), which begins with acoustic guitar and harmonica, to piano, drums and bass in the chorus kick - up to the rocker. Audio file / audio sample

With Hungry Heart the album also contained his first top ten hit, through which he became known to a wider public in Europe. This was evident on the subsequent tour, during which he played for the first time in Germany in April 1981 in Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin and Hamburg in front of sold-out houses.

1982–1983: Minimalist Arrangements: Nebraska

Springsteen on his 2005 solo tour

The release of his next album, Nebraska (1982) , proved that Springsteen is always good for a surprise . Instead of following The River's successful path , he created a gloomy atmosphere in Nebraska, accompanied only by guitar, harmonica and glockenspiel, which provided the background for his stories about outsiders in American society. Its in a publication - After several unsuccessful attempts Arrangement with the 'E Street Band' is Springsteen finally decided - as a kind of stopgap Home Recording Studio incurred demo recordings (also visible on unpolished sound). Compared to The River , the album was a flop. Today it is considered one of his best albums with its intimate and haunting, often depressing songs.

1984–1991: Stadium rock - Born in the USA

Springsteen finally became a superstar with Born in the USA (1984), an album that produced seven top ten hits in the USA. Compared to the previous albums, the songs are structured even more simply, that is, reduced to the essentials. They are characterized by simple, usual rock riffs on the guitar or the keyboards as well as catchy "sing along refrains", for example in the title song Born in the USA or in Glory Days (see sheet music and audio sample ? / I ). Audio file / audio sample

The keyboard sound is adapted to the taste of the 1980s. Was subsequently often copied the massive drum sound of the title track to the stressed and taken with a lot of reverb snare drum on the second and fourth clock part (see notes and audio sample ? / I ). Audio file / audio sample

The year 1984 also brought radical changes for Springsteen: Steve Van Zandt, companion from the very beginning, left the E Street Band after completing work on the album to pursue a solo career. Nils Lofgren was signed as a replacement for the tour . As a further change there was for the first time a background singer on stage, Patti Scialfa . Born in the USA is one of the best-selling records in rock history, and Springsteen went on a world tour, which in June 1985 also took him to Germany for two major concerts in the Frankfurt Waldstadion and Munich Olympic Stadium. The title song was often misunderstood as a patriotic hymn, not only in the USA, because more attention was paid to the rousing refrain than to the socially critical text. Ronald Reagan used the song in his election campaign, but Springsteen prevented it. Springsteen initially recorded a purely acoustic version of the song, but then preferred the heavier rock version with a full band line-up. On his live recording of the concerts as part of the Reunion Tour 1999/2000 from Madison Square Garden, he played the song again solo and purely acoustically. "I had a brother at Khe Sahn, / fightin 'off the Viet Cong, / they're still there, but he's all gone ..." With a single verse, more, with some vocally extremely stretched syllables "he's all gone ..." can Springsteen poetically captures the effect of an entire war in a focal point without obviously taking sides.

On May 13, 1985, Springsteen married Julianne Phillips , actress and model, whom he had met only months earlier in Los Angeles .

After Springsteen had refused to publish concert recordings for years because he was afraid that the atmosphere of his concerts could not be conveyed on recordings, he changed his mind. A collection of 40 songs on five LPs and three CDs was released in November 1986 under the title Live / 1975-85 . A recording of a concert in London in 1975 ( Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 ), which was only published in 2006, is a lively document that shows Springsteen and his band full of joy in playing. Bootlegs from other appearances are coveted collector's items among fans and circulate among them in large numbers.

Bruce Springsteen at the concert in East Berlin on the Weißensee Radrennbahn on July 19, 1988

In 1987 the album Tunnel of Love was released . It treads a middle ground between the martial, "sweaty" stadium rock of Born in the USA and the intimate atmosphere of Nebraska . The songs seem "more relaxed" and go a bit in the direction of modern-sounding pop music . Keyboard sounds dominate over electric guitars, and the drum sound no longer sounds quite as powerful as on the previous album. The members of the E Street Band were only used when the individual song required it. During the subsequent tour, Springsteen also played for the first time in the eastern part of Berlin, which was then still divided . 160,000 tickets were officially sold for the concert on July 19, 1988 at the Weißensee Radrennbahn . It was also Springsteen's biggest live performance he has ever given.

In September and October 1988 he went on a charity tour with other artists, Sting , Peter Gabriel and Tracy Chapman , for the benefit of the human rights organization Amnesty International .

Bruce Springsteen gave the eulogy for Bob Dylan's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 .

Even during the tunnel-of-love - tour rumors had emerged that Springsteen was having an affair with his backup singer Patti Scialfa. In 1988, Julianne Phillips finally filed for divorce, which was enforced in March 1989. Springsteens and Scialfa's first son Evan James was born on July 25, 1990 in Los Angeles, and were married on June 8, 1991. Their daughter Jessica Rae was born on December 30, 1991, followed by Sam Ryan in 1994.

1992–1997: New ways

Then Springsteen put the collaboration with the musicians of the E Street Band on hold, without officially disbanding the band. This was followed by two simultaneously released albums in 1992, Human Touch ( audio sample of the title song ? / I ) and Lucky Town , the Springsteen with various world-famous musicians from the Los Angeles session scene, such as the drummer Jeff Porcaro von Toto , the trumpeter Mark Isham and recorded the singers Bobby King and Sam Moore , who also accompanied him on the subsequent tour. The two albums were rated as the musical low point of his career by die-hard Springsteen fans because of their "too commercial orientation", among other things because fans and critics complained that they wanted to emulate the sales strategy of Guns N 'Roses , which a few weeks earlier also released the two records Use Your Illusion I & II at the same time . Springsteen explained both albums as fundamentally independent and different. In retrospect, this seems credible, especially since Lucky Town in particular contains very self-critical and personal texts that are missing on Human Touch . Sales fell significantly compared to the two previous studio albums. Audio file / audio sample

On November 11, 1992, Springsteen gave a concert in Los Angeles in the MTV Unplugged series , in which he only played the starter Red Headed Woman unplugged. The album was titled In Concert / MTV Plugged .

In 1995 his second solo album The Ghost of Tom Joad was released , inspired by the character of the same name from John Steinbeck's novel Fruits of Wrath . Here he transfers the fate described by Steinbeck of the Okies fleeing from economic and climatic catastrophes during the Depression with the fate of the Latin American immigrants in today's USA. On the album Springsteen plays almost all the instruments himself. Acoustic guitar and harmonica dominate ( audio sample from the title song ? / I ) and are only occasionally supported by drums, bass and keyboards. He presented the album on a solo tour. Shortly thereafter , the politically active band Rage Against the Machine covered his song The Ghost of Tom Joad and dressed it up musically. They often played it live before it appeared on their album Renegades in 2000 . Audio file / audio sample

Numerous Springsteen songs found their way into cinema soundtracks. He received an Oscar for the best original song for Streets of Philadelphia from the film Philadelphia , and Springsteen was nominated for the second Oscar for the title song for the death penalty drama Dead Man Walking . At the request of Mickey Rourke , Springsteen wrote The Wrestler in early 2008 as the theme song for the movie of the same name , which was released in December 2008. Springsteen did not demand any royalties from the production company for this and released the song itself in late January 2009 as a bonus track on Working on a Dream . For the Harry Potter film series , he submitted the song I'll Stand by You Always , which, however, was not used in any of the films.

1998–2000: reunification

In November 1998 Tracks was released , a four-CD set with numerous recordings from Springsteen's oeuvre, most of which had not been officially released by then. The original version of Born in the USA should be mentioned as an example , which is much closer to the Nebraska album in terms of sound . Springsteen then decided to go on tour again with the E Street Band. They celebrated a terrific comeback: from April to June 1999 they played first in large halls and stadiums in Europe, before an extensive US tour began in July 1999, which lasted almost a year (with interruptions) and included a series of ten concerts in the New York's Madison Square Garden ended.

With the song American Skin (41 Shots) in 2000 Springsteen addressed the case of the immigrant Amadou Diallo , who had been the victim of an incident with the New York police the year before. Four white police officers fired a total of 41 shots during a nightly police check on the impeccable and unarmed Diallo, 19 of which hit and ultimately killed him. The case, made public by Springsteen's song, sparked heated controversy in the United States over racially motivated police attacks. New York police officers then initiated a boycott campaign against Springsteen, which, however, did not harm him.

2001-2004: The Rising

In July 2002 the album The Rising was released , which was created under the impact of the events of September 11, 2001 . The criticism was initially divided, there were also criticisms in the media. The tone of the reviewers soon changed, however, and some, like Der Spiegel , for example , followed up with a positive review only a short time later after a negative assessment. On The Rising the rather unusual in rock instruments are also cello and violin used. Asif Ali Khan and his group contribute Arabic sounds. Springsteen received three Grammys for The Rising , including one in the "Best Rock Album of the Year" category. The Rising is an ostensibly non-political reflection of the emotional situation after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Another extensive tour followed, this time through Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. During this tour, Springsteen became significantly more political. He openly criticized George W. Bush for the Iraq war and, in the fall of 2004, together with other musicians such as REM , John Mellencamp , Pearl Jam and Bright Eyes , did the “Vote for Change Tour” for the election of John Kerry to the US President a. In addition, the Springsteen track No Surrender was used by Kerry as a campaign song .

2005: Devils & Dust

On April 25, 2005, Springsteen's album Devils & Dust was released , which received critical acclaim, but split the fan base like The Ghost of Tom Joad , published ten years earlier . The rather calm album consists about half of songs that Springsteen had accumulated over the years, but which he withheld because, in his opinion, they would not have fit on publications such as The Rising . The title song Devils & Dust was created under the impressions of the Iraq war .

Lyrically, Springsteen tried to carefully explore new ways. In the titles Reno , who describes oral sex with a prostitute : “She slipped me out of her mouth. 'You're ready,' she said… “, and Long time comin , sexual matters are openly addressed, unlike in the past. The result was a warning "Adult advisory warning sticker" on the CDs in the USA.

The following world tour, which also took him to Germany in June 2005, he did without a band, alone with acoustic guitar, piano and harmonium, in the calm atmosphere of the album. The reviews were extremely positive, although the ticket prices of up to almost € 100, which were perceived as exaggerated, caused considerable displeasure among the fans.

2006–2007: The Seeger Sessions

Concert in Milan, May 12, 2006

Another recourse to the folk roots that have always influenced Springsteen is the album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions , which was released in April 2006 and refers to the folk musician Pete Seeger , who died in early 2014 at the age of 94 , the numerous recorded traditional folk pieces unchanged or changed and archived them for future generations. In 1997 Springsteen first came into close contact with Seeger's work when he recorded the song We Shall Overcome for the Seeger tribute CD Where have all the flowers gone . Together with musicians from New York City, whom he had met through E Street violinist Soozie Tyrell and who were playing at a festival on his farm, he spontaneously took in 1997, 2005 and 2006 in just three one-day recording sessions in the living room and hall of his farmhouse Album with the old folk pieces and traditionals made famous by Seeger. The album was recorded live with mainly acoustic instruments (banjo, fiddles, guitars, wind instruments, washboard, etc.) and thus appears lively and natural. The recording sessions can be seen as a film on the accompanying DVD.

Although the announcement that Springsteen would release an album exclusively with third-party compositions and without the E Street Band caused irritation among many fans, the CD received critical acclaim and is also commercially successful.

On the one hand, the selection of pieces was intended to bring traditional American songs to life after the city of New Orleans , which is considered the cradle of American music, was largely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 . But it can also be interpreted as a criticism of American politics. "We Shall Overcome" is - as in Seeger's version in the 1960s - an example of a protest song; Also on the album is Bring 'em Home ("Bringt them home"), a song written by Pete Seeger in the 1960s for the campaign against the Vietnam War , which Springsteen now related to the Iraq war.

In the spring, Springsteen presented the album live with a 17-member band. The official tour start was at the Jazzfest in New Orleans. Except for Springsteen, his wife Patti Scialfa and violinist Soozie Tyrell, no member of the E Street Band was on stage. His only concert in Germany on this tour took place on May 17th, 2006 in the Festhalle Frankfurt. The program consisted primarily of the Seeger pieces, only a few of their own titles - completely rearranged - appeared in the two and a half hour set.

On his second European tour with the Seeger Sessions Band (October 1 - November 21, 2006) Springsteen performed in the Color Line Arena in Hamburg and in the Kölnarena . Both concerts were sold out within 20 minutes.

The final concert was recorded and released in 2007 as an album and DVD under the name Live in Dublin .

2007-2008: Magic

On September 28, 2007, Springsteen's album Magic was released , the first with the E Street Band since The Rising in 2002 and Springsteen's return to guitar-heavy rock music. The album was produced again by former Pearl Jam producer Brendan O'Brien . A first pre-single, Radio Nowhere , celebrated its radio world premiere on August 26, 2007. With this single, Springsteen is building on the first decade of his career not only musically but also lyrically. Loneliness, longing and the search for redemption are in the foreground. Other singles for which videos were shot are Long walk home and Girls in their summer clothes .

The album contains eleven songs documented on the cover, plus a twelfth track, Terry's Song , which is dedicated to Springsteen's late former bodyguard and friend.

In October 2007 Springsteen began the Magic world tour with the E Street Band in the USA , which also took him to Germany (Mannheim and Cologne) for two concerts in December 2007. In June 2008, two more (Düsseldorf and Hamburg) followed in the course of this tour, of which the Hamburg concert was already sold out in mid-January 2008. During the continuation of the Magic Tour in 2008, Springsteen had signs collected from the audience on which music requests were written. In Hamburg, for example, the Held up without a gun , which had only been played once on New Year's Eve 1980/1981 and was published on the third CD of the Essential Bruce Springsteen Box , was played in Hamburg . Other rarities and / or oldies followed in later concerts.

The Magic Tour officially ended on August 24, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. On August 30, 2008, another show - officially outside the Magic Tour - took place at the Roadhouse at the Lakefront (Milwaukee, WI), it was a Harley Davidson Celebration Show .

2008–2011: Working on a Dream

The album Working on a Dream , which is dedicated to the keyboardist of the E Street Band Danny Federici , who died in 2008 , was released in Germany on January 23, 2009. On its website, Springsteen stated that it was " picking up the momentum of the Magic sessions". Three songs were released in advance via various download services: first the title track Working on a Dream , which Springsteen had already played in an acoustic version in autumn 2008 during the campaign appearances of the then Democratic US presidential candidate and later election winner Barack Obama . This was followed by My Lucky Day and the bonus track The Wrestler from the soundtrack of the film of the same name . Springsteen received the Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Song" for this song in January 2009 .

On the special edition of the album CD, which contains a DVD with the title Working on a Dream - The Sessions , the song The Jersey Devil is included in addition to various session recordings .

Working on a Dream quickly reached the top of the international charts, in the USA, England and Germany the "Boss" managed to jump to number one on the sales hit list. After Born in the USA (1984), Greatest Hits (1995), The Rising (2002) and Devils & Dust (2005), it is his fifth overall number one placement in Germany. Working on a Dream came to number one in the charts in 16 countries.

As part of a world tour in 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played in the stadiums of Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt and Bern, among others. The concert in London's Hyde Park was filmed and released on DVD and Bluray in 2010. As the opening song, Springsteen brought out the clash classic London Calling .

2012–2013: Wrecking Ball

The album Wrecking Ball (German: Wrecking Ball ) was released at the beginning of March 2012 and is dedicated to the late saxophonist of the E Street Band Clarence Clemons . In contrast to the optimistic previous album Working on a Dream , this time the focus is on reflecting on the US economic crisis and criticizing the banking system with a much more critical undertone. The album's first single, We Take Care of Our Own , quickly became a kind of anthem for the Occupy Wall Street movement. As part of the "Wrecking Ball" World Tour 2012/2013, Springsteen and the E Street Band again played numerous concerts in Europe, including Vienna, Zurich, Frankfurt, Cologne and Berlin. The last stop of the first European leg of the tour was in Helsinki, where they played the longest concert in the band's history at 4 hours and 6 minutes.

2014: High Hopes

Springsteen's new album entitled High Hopes was released in early January 2014 . Guest musician is Tom Morello , who is involved in the songs High Hopes , Harry's Place , American Skin (41 Shots) , Just Like Fire Would , Heaven's Wall , Hunter of Invisible Game and The Ghost of Tom Joad . Springsteen on Morello: The E Street Band is a big house, but when Tom is on stage he adds a new space . The album could be heard in advance on Spiegel Online's stream .

The River Tour 2016

2015 – present: The River 2016 Tour and Springsteen on Broadway 2017–2018

In 1980 the double album The River was released . For the 35th anniversary of the album, the The River box The Ties That Bind: The River Collection was released.

On this occasion Bruce Springsteen went on a world tour with his E-Street Band and played around 75 concerts.

From October 3, 2017 ( preview ) to December 15, 2018, the musician gave 236 sold-out solo concerts under the title Springsteen on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York , in which he sang as well as played guitar and piano, anecdotes from his Autobiography Born to Run and other recollections. Springsteen's wife Patti Scialfa appeared at almost all concerts. The concert revenues were $ 113 million.

In 2019 the solo album Western Stars was released .


Bruce Springsteen draws his musical influences from the reservoir of traditional American popular music, folk , blues and country . From the beginning, rock 'n' roll was the defining influence.

The folk influence can be clearly heard on his debut LP . An example of the influence of this genre on Springsteen's music is the style of Woody Guthrie based title This Hard Land (see sheet music and audio sample ? / I ), which he published in 1995 on his Greatest Hits album. He expanded the range of his musical resources on his second LP The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle . Elements of Latin American music, jazz , soul and funk influences can be heard, with the piece New York City Serenade even an intro reminiscent of the music of George Gershwin . This is partly due to the black pianist David Sancious, who only appeared on the first two records and later played for Sting for years. The music of this period reflects the ethnic and cultural diversity of New Jersey and New York, where Springsteen grew up. Audio file / audio sample

As his career progressed, Springsteen focused more on the rock elements of his music. He first condensed the sound and from Darkness on the Edge of Town developed a straightforward and concise musical idiom for which simple riffs and clearly recognizable song structures are characteristic. In the USA, his music is also counted in the so-called Heartland Rock category , whose typical representatives, apart from Springsteen, are John Fogerty , Tom Petty , Bob Seger and John Mellencamp . This music has a lyrical reference to everyday American life. It goes beyond pure entertainment by addressing social and societal issues. The music is rather simple and direct. This development found its climax with Springsteen's successful album Born in the USA and there especially in the title song, which is based on a constantly repeating, fanfare-like keyboard riff and a pounding drum beat. Springsteen's voice sounds fittingly in this piece; she shouts the unsentimental story of the disillusioned and angry figure that Springsteen portrays into the face. Titles such as My hometown and I'm on fire ( audio sample ? / I ), in which the drum line consists of subtle hi-hat hits and rim clicks (hit on the edge the snare drum). Audio file / audio sample

In the past few years Springsteen has continued to change his music. There are more folk elements up to gospel to be heard. On his last solo album, Devils and Dust , he impressed not only with his complex songwriting, but also as an expressive and sensitive singer.

Springsteen covered folk classics on the album We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions . At the concerts for the album, he also transformed his own songs like Growin 'Up into a language that was new to him and actually quite old.

In 2007 the album Magic was like a reflection on the old stadium rock attitude. With its rich arrangements, it was practically designed to inspire large stadiums, which was also achieved on the corresponding tour.

In 2011 he was a guest musician on the song Peg o 'My Heart by the folk-punk band Dropkick Murphys on their album Going Out In Style .

In 2017 and 2018 Bruce Springsteen had his own show on Broadway in New York . More than 230 shows had taken place by December 2018. In July 2018, Bruce Springsteen's management announced that the show had been sold to streaming service Netflix . It premiered on Netflix on December 15, 2018.


Bruce Springsteen is considered a keen observer and chronicler of everyday American life. In his songs he portrays the life of the “little man” with all his dreams, longings and joys, but also his failure in reality. He accompanies the characters on their journey through life: on his first records, these are mainly young people who repel their horns and dream of a happy future. Springsteen sings about the heroes of his early songs in an exuberantly romantic way and tends to run wild cascades of words in the style of stream of consciousness . Critics have been reminded in part of the metaphors of the early songs by Van Morrison and Bob Dylan . On his later albums, Springsteen's lyrics were much more sober, terse in expression and more precise in observation.

Over the course of his career, the characters he described became increasingly hopeless and bitter. The heroes or anti-heroes of his songs are the stumbled and stranded with their disappointed hopes and broken dreams. Springsteen tells of failed relationships (especially on the album Tunnel of Love) , unemployment (Youngstown , Johnny 99) , crime (Murder Incorporated) , xenophobia ( Galveston Bay ) , economic exploitation of foreign workers (Sinaloa Cowboys) , racial unrest (My Hometown) , Resignation (Downbound Train) , looking back on better, bygone days (Glory Days , Bobby Jean) , but also of the protagonists' attempts to break out of their bleak existence (Thunder Road , Hungry Heart) . This fatalistic mood is most pronounced on his solo albums, such as Nebraska , which has an almost depressive and eerie atmosphere. His best-known song Born in the USA was (and is) occasionally misinterpreted as a cheering hymn to the American dream , but in fact it is about the experiences of an American returnee to Vietnam who, back at home, no longer has a place in society finds. In his youth, Springsteen watched the Vietnam War on TV and had to experience how young men from his circle of friends and acquaintances fell as soldiers in Vietnam or returned home broken.

Bruce Springsteen almost never takes a direct political position in his songs. Although he addresses grievances in US society, he does not go so far as to name the causes, accuse the guilty or seek solutions. He restricts himself to narrating the consequences of social grievances and economic crises using fictitious and generalized individual fates as examples. In doing so, he only occasionally and rudimentarily questions the American model of society: "Down here it's just winners and losers and don't get caught on the wrong side of that line".

Almost classic motifs from American popular culture such as The Road or The River appear again and again in his songs. Cars also often play an important role in his songs (Climb in back, heaven's waiting on down the tracks from Thunder road) . While the motif of driving is almost a symbol of freedom at the beginning , this image in later songs fulfills the function of flight or the desperate search for a way out. In his texts, he sometimes brushes the line with cliché, for example with lines like I had a job, I had a girl / I had something going, mister, in this world (Downbound Train) . It is precisely in the exaggerated depiction of his figures that he succeeds in creating concise, typical images of the life of a large part of American society. His texts often give interesting insights into the current US American "sensitivities".

The first-person narrator in Springsteen's texts always takes the loser's side. American authors such as Jim Cullen and Bryan K. Garman (see literature list) have made the controversial attempt to draw a line from Walt Whitman , Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain via Woody Guthrie to Springsteen.

Religious motifs appear in the lyrics of some songs , as they are generally very much incorporated into everyday American language. This shows the influence of his Christian upbringing. The title Adam raised a Cain refers to the biblical story of Cain and Abel (In the Bible Cain slew Abel, and East of Eden he was cast. You're born into this life paying for the sins of somebody else's past). The title Across the border appears to the excerpt of the Israelite people out of Egypt into the Promised Land ajar (Where pain and memory, pain and memory have been stilled. There across the border. For what are we without hope in our hearts, someday did we 'll drink from God's blessed waters). On the album The Rising , religious references come to the fore. Springsteen does not tend to develop missionary zeal and to work as a preacher - like Bob Dylan did during his "Christian phase". About the connection between faith and music, Springsteen says: "There is no better fountain than the myths of Catholicism. Everything is in there."

Unlike most other pop songs, Springsteen's songs do not contain any promises of happiness or any prospect of redemption. That doesn't mean that he doesn't write happy songs too. Many of his pieces are even quite danceable. Happy moments never last for him, but at best dreams or attempts to escape from the realities of life that are doomed to fail from the start. Likewise, fulfilled love does not appear in his songs. Nevertheless - or precisely because of this - his characters, in a typical US-American motif, are driven by the longing to overcome their apparently inevitable fate and the will to never give in.

Springsteen's enormous popularity is certainly due not least to the fact that a large part of his audience recognizes himself in his songs. He is sometimes adored like a folk hero by numerous die-hard fans.

Bruce Springsteen has a very charismatic stage presence. He conveys to his audience the feelings that he himself felt when listening to and playing music as a teenager. His concerts have an almost cathartic effect on his audience. They are therefore often compared to church services, not least because - as can be heard very well on the first two records of Live / 1975-85 - because in the past almost every song was accompanied by a captivating, entertaining and often very personal story had to tell.

Awards (selection)

During his almost 40-year career, Springsteen has received numerous prizes and awards, including 20 Grammy Awards and an Oscar in 1994 for the song Streets of Philadelphia, which is part of the music of the film Philadelphia . In 2009 he received the Kennedy Prize for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2013 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In 2016 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom , the highest civilian honor in the United States of America .

  • grammy
    • 1985 "Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male" for Dancing in the Dark
    • 1988 "Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo" for Tunnel of Love
    • 1995 "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance", "Song of the Year", "Best Rock Song" and "Best Song Written for a Motion Picture or Television" for Streets of Philadelphia
    • 1997 "Best Contemporary Folk Album" for The Ghost of Tom Joad
    • 2003 "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" and "Best Rock Song" for The Rising (single), "Best Rock Album" for The Rising
    • 2004 "Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal" for Disorder in the House (Bruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon )
    • 2005 "Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance" for Code of Silence
    • 2006 "Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance" for Devils & Dust
    • 2007 "Best Traditional Folk Album" for We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions , "Best Long Form Music Video" for Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run
    • 2008 “Best Performances by an Artist” for Radio Nowhere , “Best Song” for Radio Nowhere , “ Best Rock Instrumental Performance ” for Once Upon A Time In The West
    • 2009 “Best Rock Song” for Girls in Their Summer Clothes
    • 2010 "Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance" for Working on a Dream
  • Oscar
    • 1994 Academy Award for "Best Original Song" for Streets of Philadelphia from the film Philadelphia .

Discography (selection)


Henry Edwards in the New York Times of 1975: “His melodies [are] either second-hand or undistinguished and his performance tedious. Given such flaws there has to be another important ingredient to the success of Bruce Springsteen: namely, vigorous promotion. ” ("His tunes are either second-hand or ordinary and his performances are boring. With weaknesses like that, there must be another key ingredient in Bruce Springsteen's success: vibrant advertising.")

The magazine Hifi Vision on the albums Lucky Town and Human Touch : "Plenty of Western flair and country bliss, some gripping ballads and atmospheric pieces, noticeably a lot of simple everyday poetry, but also aptly sketched pictures."

Rolling Stone magazine 1982 on the album Nebraska : “Nebraska is an acoustic triumph, a basic folk album on which Springsteen has stripped his art down to the core. It's as harrowing as Darkness on the Edge of Town, but more measured. Every small touch speaks volumes: the delicacy of the acoustic guitars, the blurred sting of the electric guitars, the spare, grim images. " ("Nebraska is an acoustic triumph, a fundamental folk album on which Springsteen takes his art to the core. It's as harrowing as Darkness on the Edge of Town, but more moderate. Every single nuance speaks volumes: the delicacy of acoustic guitars, the blurry Stitch of the electric guitars, the sparse, gloomy pictures. ")

Konrad Heidkamp in time to The Rising , "It seems as impossible to grasp the events of September 11 appropriately in musical notes and sounds, as they can not explain with words. And yet the intersection of rock music and politics lies precisely in honoring the dead of America, the victims of the assassination, and at the same time, in a low, fragile voice, singing those melodies in which all the mistakes and defeats of the USA echo. "

The star for the album Devils & Dust : “The 'Boss' has imposed a strict modesty on the instrumentation. 'I consciously wanted to keep everything raw and unadulterated. I think that's exactly what country music is often lacking today. That certain sound that gets under your skin, 'explains Springsteen. And so each song only got what it absolutely needed. The basic structure is always Springsteen's simple yet haunting guitar and harmonica playing. "

When selecting the 500 best albums of all time of the magazine Rolling Stone in 2003, eight Springsteen albums were selected. Only the Beatles were more successful with eleven and Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones with ten placements each. The albums of the "Boss" and placements were:

In addition, Springsteen was included as an artist on four Rolling Stone lists:


  • Born to Run . Simon and Schuster, New York 2016, ISBN 978-1-4711-5779-0 .
    • German edition: Born to Run. The autobiography. From the American by Teja Schwaner u. a., Heyne, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-453-20131-6 .
  • Leonardo Colombati: Bruce Springsteen - Like a Killer in the Sun - Lyrics . German first edition with 101 Springsteen lyrics, translated into German by Heinz Rudolf Kunze . First authorized and only German edition of Springsteen's lyrics. Ditzingen 2019, ISBN 978-3-15-011218-2


  • Julia Edenhofer: Bruce Springsteen - The Boss . Bastei-Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1988; ISBN 3-404-61116-0 .
  • Eric Alterman: It Ain't No Sin To Be Glad You're Alive - The Promise of Bruce Springsteen . Back Bay Books, Boston 2001, ISBN 0-316-03917-9 .
  • Peter Basham: Bruce Springsteen . Pocket Essentials, Harpenden 2005, ISBN 1-903047-97-8 .
  • Hank Bordowitz: The Bruce Springsteen Scrapbook . Citadel, New York 2004, ISBN 0-8065-2553-3 .
  • Peter Ames Carlin: Bruce . Edel Books, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-8419-0191-0 .
  • Jim Cullen: Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition . Wesleyan University Press, Middletown 2005, ISBN 0-8195-6761-2 .
  • John Duffy: Bruce Springsteen - In his own words . Palmyra, Heidelberg 1999, ISBN 3-930378-27-2 .
  • Bryan K. Garman: Race of Singers. Whitman's Working-Class Hero from Guthrie to Springsteen . University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 2000, ISBN 0-8078-2558-1 .
  • Fred Goodman: The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce . Vintage Books, New York 1998, ISBN 0-679-74377-4 .
  • Gary Graff: The Ties That Bind - Bruce Springsteen A to E to Z . Visible Ink Press, Detroit 2005, ISBN 1-57859-157-0 .
  • Daniela Hrzán: "Wearing the Cross of My Calling". Crisis and resurrection of white masculinity in the redemption fantasies of Bruce Springsteen in: Sven Glawion, Elahe Haschemi-Yekani, Jana Husmann-Kastein (eds.): Redeemer. Figurations of male hegemony . transcript, Bielefeld 2007, ISBN 978-3-89942-733-2 , pp. 53-66
  • Luis P. Masur: Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen's vision of America . Rogner and Bernhard, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-8077-1049-5 .
  • Dave Marsh (Ed.): Born to Run - The Bruce Springsteen Story . Thunder's Mouth Press, New York 1996, ISBN 1-56025-102-6 .
  • Dave Marsh: Bruce Springsteen - Two Hearts. The Definitive Biography 1972 - 2003 . Rouledge, New York 2004, ISBN 0-415-96928-X .
  • David Remnick : About Bruce Springsteen ( translated from the English by Eike Schönfeld ). Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-8270-1168-8 .
  • Christopher Sandford : Bruce Springsteen - The Rock Voice of America . Hannibal, St. Andrä-WIERT 1999, ISBN 3-85445-171-7 .
  • Frank Stefanko: Days of Hope and Dreams. An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen . Billboard Books, New York 2003, ISBN 0-8230-8387-X .
  • Hein-Dirk Zimmermann: Human Touch - Bruce Springsteen . Star Cluster, Balve 2003, ISBN 3-925005-64-1 .
  • Dave Marsh: Bruce Springsteen . Edel, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-941376-05-2 .
  • Erik Kirschbaum: Rocking the Wall. Bruce Springsteen: The Berlin Concert That Changed the World . Berlinica, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-1935902829 .
  • Heinz Rudolf Kunze : The boss is a matter for the boss. In: Rolling Stone , German-language edition, edition 299, September 2019, pages 80 and 81, ISSN 1612-9563


  • Bruce Springsteen: In His Own Words (2016). Director: Nigel Cole . Springsteen tells from his life. (Broadcast by ZDF under the title Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA .)

Web links

Commons : Bruce Springsteen  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Mass Moments: Critic Declares Springsteen Future of Rock and Roll., March 29, 2009, archived from the original on September 30, 2015 ; accessed on May 13, 2016 .
  2. Rolling Stone: Darkness on the Edge of Town ( English ) Retrieved on March 29 of 2009.
  3. Born in the DDR on from July 29, 1988
  4. ^ Raisa Bruner: Apparently Bruce Springsteen Wrote a Song for Harry Potter But They Didn't Use, October 21, 2016, accessed November 4, 2016 .
  5. Spiegel Online: New album from the boss: Listen to Springsteen's "High Hopes" here in the pre-stream
  6. - accessed on September 18, 2019
  7. Bruce Springsteen as a guest musician at Dropkick Murphys (English) , accessed on March 2, 2011.
  8. Bruce Springsteen is unstoppable on Broadway. Retrieved July 23, 2018 .
  9. Bruce Springsteen as a series. Retrieved July 23, 2018 .
  10. From the title Atlantic city .
  11. ^ Springsteen, Scorsese talk Catholicism, films and creativity. In: Crux. May 6, 2019, accessed November 17, 2019 (Canadian English).
  12. ^ Past Winners Search. Retrieved on September 11, 2014 (English, "Bruce Springsteen" must be entered for "Artist").
  13. ^ The White House: President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. November 16, 2016, accessed November 22, 2016 .
  14. Bruce Springsteen
  15. 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone , December 2, 2010, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  16. 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Rolling Stone , December 2, 2010, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  17. 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Rolling Stone , December 18, 2015, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  18. The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Rolling Stone , August 2015, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  19. - accessed on September 6, 2019