First, listen to and/or read this great interview, conducted by my old friend Ann Powers for NPR:
Among the things that make this interview so good: Ann is a perfect mix of professional and fan. Some interviewers gush when face-to-face with Bruce. Others go for a more “objective” approach. Ann knows her shit … she’s been writing professionally about music for at least thirty years. She’s been a primary pop critic for the Village Voice, New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, spent years as the main curator for the Experience Music Project in Seattle, has written a few books, and currently writes for NPR. But she also knows Bruce Springsteen’s work, which is kinda nice for us aging Bruce fans (Ann is 11 years younger than I am). Knows it, and loves it. In the interview, she touches on her experience living in Brooklyn at the time of 9/11, and how The Rising resonated for her. But her fandom never gets in the way of drawing Bruce out … it’s there just enough to make the interview better.
I mentioned on Twitter that I had a favorite part of the interview, but that I wasn’t sure why. It comes when Bruce is describing what it was like making records when he was in his 20s: “It was terrible, you know. In truth, it was awful, an awful way to make records but it was the only way we knew how. Everybody simply suffered through it and the endless, endless, endless hours I can't begin to explain.”
Ann’s response was the part I loved most: “We thank you for those hours.”
I’ve had a couple of days to think about it, and I think I know now why this resonated so deeply with me. When I first heard she was going to interview Bruce, I thought she was a perfect choice, that people like myself would be well-represented. That one sentence is what I meant, when she stepped back momentarily from her professional role and briefly spoke as a fan. I am not the only Bruce fan to spend too much time wondering what I would say if I met him. Part of me thinks I’d just ask him to play “Back in Your Arms” the next time he comes to the Bay Area. That’s part of why people bring signs requesting this or that favorite song … it’s a way to talk to the man on the stage.
But the truth is (and from talking to friends over the years, I know I’m not alone in this), if I had a chance to meet Bruce Springsteen, the one and only thing I’d want to say is, “Thank you”.
So consider this blog post my way of thanking Ann for thanking Bruce on our behalf.
Here is a song from the new album, a cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream”. If you ever wondered what it's like for us true believers at a Bruce show, just look at the faces of the people in the audience.