Anyone who has known me at any point over the past forty years is aware of my deep appreciation for the brilliance of Bruce Springsteen. It’s not just that I’m a fan—there’s been a deep connection to the core of my being with his music since I was a teenager. I’ve written about what his music means to me in another blog post you can read by clicking here. I’ve had a saying for decades now:
There’s only two kinds of music in the world: Bruce Springsteen’s, and everything else.
A few years ago, after months of negotiations with his record company’s Canadian music rep, I came close to doing an interview with him. However, it fell through. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I’ve always wanted to gain insight into his spiritual side. Most people aren’t aware that over 60% of his music has religious overtones, some of it is overtly spiritual. This theme has been consistent from his first album to his most recent one. There’s an excellent book, The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen: From Rock to Redemption, by Jeffrey Symynkywicz that chronicles this part of The Boss’ journey well.
To get to meet him and hear the stories that have shaped him into the songwriter he is would knock off one of the least obtainable items on my bucket list. Spending a week with Springsteen, getting to ask him how he came to write the lyrics that have been hovering over my soul for most of my life would be a thrill that words couldn’t possibly describe.
Despite the photoshopped picture above, I haven’t met him yet, at least not in person. But I did read his book, Born to Run while I was on vacation for a week a short while ago. That’s how I got to spend a week with Bruce Springsteen. That’s what it felt like reading his words, his account of the things that shaped his life.
I’ve read just about every biography about Springsteen. Though I’ve enjoyed them and learned a lot. I can’t say that any of them helped me gain a deeper understanding of who he is, especially from a spiritual perspective. But his autobiography changed all that. I wasn’t sure how much he’d share. Tears came to my eyes on several occasions—at one point I was practically bawling. His brutal honesty about his depression is more than I anticipated. It was refreshing to see him be so candid about his struggles, including his conflicted relationship with his abusive father who suffered from mental illness.
The most rewarding parts for me were when he spoke so openly about his connection to God. He was brutally honest about his hopes and his doubts. I was moved by his deep conviction to know Jesus.
He writes, “I have a ‘personal’ relationship with Jesus. He remains one of my fathers…I believe deeply in his love, his ability to save…but not to damn…enough of that.”
I know that this post isn’t likely to make anyone go out and read his book, or become a Springsteen fan. That’s too bad though, because it’s a rare opportunity to understand one of the most brilliant songwriters of the past fifty years—and don’t kid yourself—his musical brilliance is unmatched.
With the exception of two of my sons, I’m not aware of anyone else who has a similar appreciation for his music, for his lyrics. Sure, there are many fans out there, but not many who have been waiting forty years to hear his story.
My week with Springsteen was unanticipated, yet so rewarding. I hope you get to spend such a week with an artist you’d like to know more about.