I was looking forward to seeing Vanity Fair’s October cover story and praying that it wasn’t another Kennedy hagiography. Thankfully, VF decided to put Bruce Springsteen on their October cover! Springsteen has written a memoir, you see, and this is part of his promotion. The memoir is called Born to Run, which he cites as his favorite song that he’s ever written. I can’t call myself a Springsteen die-hard fan, but I like him and appreciate him and now I’ll be singing “Born to Run” all day. It’s a great song. The VF piece is long-winded, but I suspect it will be a must-read for the Springsteen fanatics – you can read the piece here. Some highlights:
The importance of “Born to Run”: “It’s still at the center of my work, that song. When it comes up every night, within the show, it’s monumental.” Springsteen has never tired of “Born to Run,” which he wrote at age 24 in a small rental cottage in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Expressly conceived as an important work, it took him six months to piece together all of its elements. “A good song gathers the years in. It’s why you can sing it with such conviction 40 years after it’s been written. A good song takes on more meaning as the years pass by.”
Getting buff in his 30s: Springsteen’s initial reply was that, first and foremost, he was trying to get healthy as his metabolism slowed, so he took to lifting weights, and “I had a body that just kind of popped in six months…But if you want to get into it deeper, my father was built big, so there was some element of ‘O.K., I’m 34. I’m a man now.’ I remember my father at that age. There was the idea of creating a man’s body to a certain degree. I suppose I was measuring that after my dad. And also, perhaps, in some way, trying to please him. I also found that I simply enjoyed the exercise. It was perfectly Sisyphean for my personality—lifting something heavy up and putting it down in the same spot for no particularly good reason. I’ve always felt a lot in common with Sisyphus. I’m always rolling that rock, man. One way or another, I’m always rolling that rock.”
Dealing with clinical depression over the years: “You don’t know the illness’s parameters. Can I get sick enough to where I become a lot more like my father than I thought I might? I was crushed between sixty and sixty-two, good for a year and out again from sixty-three to sixty-four. Not a good record.”
Whether he would get involved with politics this election cycle: Springsteen demurred, noting that an artist has only so many “bullets,” credibility-wise, to shoot. But, he said, “when the times have felt very drastic, I feel like, ‘Well, I gotta put my two cents in.’ So we’ll see what happens.”
I’ve heard him speak about depression before, and in the interview (and the memoir), he sounds quite open about it. Like he’s making an effort to consciously destigmatize depression and to talk about how talk-therapy and medication have helped him, but he still struggles, sometimes for years at a time. I would imagine “staying buff” probably helps too – it gives him a concrete task, to stay fit. As for his politics – he actively supported Pres. Obama in 2008 and 2012, and he’s always spoken about his liberal/progressive politics. My guess is that he was probably a Bernie Sanders supporter (although he never publicly endorsed Sanders) and now he’s supporting Hillary Clinton, although Springsteen might not get involved this cycle, and that’s fine too.
Photos courtesy of VF.