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Bruce Springsteen's Journal
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Below are the 6 most recent journal entries recorded in Bruce Springsteen's LiveJournal:

Sunday, January 28th, 2001
4:17 am
The Love Song of B. Joseph Springsteen
Let us go then, you and me,
When the evening is spread out against E Street
Like a couple come home early burning in some fire fight;
Let us go, through certain unlit parking lots,
The Jersey bus depots
Of restless kids in chrome wheeled fuel injected cars
And rock and roll clubs with overpriced bars:
Clubs that underpay a respected local band
Of lascivious intent
Who lead journalists to see music's future...
Oh, do not ask, "Who is it?"
Let us go and play our first set.

In the room Max Weinberg comes and goes
Drumming in his own combo.

The Flamingo that Maximum Lawmen run down
The Magic Rat that drives his sleek machine
over the line
Licked its tongue in Wendy, an everlasting kiss
Lingered in cages out on Highway 9,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from refineries,
Slipped by the penitentiary, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a hot Asbury night
Came home in the morning, and felt the same way.

And indeed there will be time
For the Magic Rat that slides along E Street,
Rubbing its tongue on Wendy's gums and teeth;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a riff to teach Miami Steve;
There will be time to speak to common men,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a lyric in your pen;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred cover versions
And for a hundred hits and unreleased songs
Before the cornmeal chips with nacho cheese.

In the room Max Weinberg comes and goes
Drumming in his own combo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "57 channels?" and, "Nothing there?"
Time to walk them backstreets together,
With a bandanna in the middle of my hair--
[They will say: "How his jeans are growing worn!"]
My denim coat, my collar mounting firmly to the bone,
My headband starred and spangled, asserted by a "U.S.A. For Africa" pin--
[They will say: "But how his facial hair is thin!"]
Do I dare
Disturb the ghost of Joad?
In a minute there is time
For live versions of old hit songs when new material can be shown.

For I have sung them all already, sung them all;
Have sung the anthems, ballads, all my art,
I have measured out my life with Billboard charts;
I know that singles can suddenly fall
Beneath music from a prefab band.
Was Tunnel of Love my last stand?

And I have known the cheers already, known them all--
The cheers that fix you when you're goin' down, down, down,
And when I am goin' way out of bounds,
When I am singing out to a packed hall,
Should I feel the heat coming 'round
Like those Friday nights I'd drive you all around?
And what should I play now?

And I have known bad deals already, known them all--
Managers that take your publishing rights
[But with no lamplight, you can't see what you sign!]
Is it a summons from a judge
That makes me hold a grudge?
Contracts lie along a car hood, should I impress my gal?
And should I read fine print?
And was I born to run?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone on at dusk in filthy clubs
And watched the smoke that rises from the crowd
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, smoking Marlboros?...

I should have been a set of ragged strings,
Chords strangled out from Fender fretboards.

. . . . .

And the pianist, the sax player, sleep so peacefully!
Soothed by young groupies,
Asleep...sated...or they caught herpes,
Stretched on the van floor, beside you and me.
Should I, after beers, pretzels, long boozin',
Have the wit to force the lyric to its resolution?
But though I have sung and written, sung and played,
Though I have seen gold records [grown slightly tarnished] brought in upon
a platter,
I am no teen idol -- and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have played Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and they snickered,
And in short, I didn't sell.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the Budweiser, the Jack,
Among the platinum, among some talk of John Steinbeck,
Would it have been worth while,
To have rehashed my greatest hits with a smile,
To have squeezed the industry into a ball
To use it in a celebrity softball game,
To say: "I am Woody Guthrie, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
If one, settling a headphone on her head,
Should say, "That is not what I heard at all.
That is not it, at all."

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the buses and the limos and the award shows,
After the records, after the whiskey, after the skirts that trail along the floor --
And this, and so much more?
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if the music channel threw my Unplugged set in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, wearing a headset or throwing on vinyl,
And turning toward the Jersey Shore, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I heard, at all."

. . . . .

No! I am not Bob Dylan, nor was meant to be;
Am a rocker, baby, I'm a rocker, one that will do
To lead the band on, be part of a scene or to
Donate proceeds; no doubt, an easy tool,
Socially concious, glad to be of use,
Everyman, but wealthy and famous;
Full of common plights, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
Almost, at times, the Boss.

I grow old...I grow old...
I shall wear the sleeves of my flannel shirts rolled.

Shall I pull my headband behind? Do I dare to go on tour?
I shall love my red-haired wife, and buy another house.
I have heard the E Street band singing, each to each.

I think they will sing backup for me.

I have seen them riding to rehearsal spaces
Tuning the six strings of guitars grown cracked
While Clarence changes the reed, cleans his sax.

We have lingered in the chambers of Asbury,
Been at the top of the charts and in hock
Til madman drummers wake us, and we rock.
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2001
4:50 pm
Just thinkin', man...
I picked up Born On The Fourth Of July in a drugstore in Arizona while I was driving across the country with a friend of mine. We stopped somewhere outside of Phoenix, and there was a copy of the paperback in the rack. So I bought the book and I read it between Phoenix and Los Angeles, where I stayed in this little motel. There was a guy in a wheelchair by the poolside every day, two or three days in a row, and I guess he recognized me, and he finally came up to me and said, "Hey, I'm Ron Kovic"-it was really very strange-and I said, "Oh, Ron Kovic, gee, that's good." I thought I'd met him before somewhere. And he said, "No, I wrote a book called Born on the Fourth of July." And I said, "You wouldn't believe this. I just bought your book in a drugstore in Arizona and I just read it. It's incredible." Real, real powerful book. And we talked a little bit and he got me interested in doing something for the vets. He took me to a vet center in Venice, and I met a bunch of guys along with this guy Bobby Muller who was one of the guys who started VVA, Vietnam Veterans of America.

I go through periods where I read, and I get a lot out of what I read, and that reading has affected my work since the late seventies. Films and novels and books, more so than music, are what have really been driving me since then. Wslker Percy once wrote that "American novels are about everything," and I was interested in writing about "everything" in some fashion in my music: how it felt to be alive now, a citizen of this country in this particular place and time and what that meant, and what your possibilities were if you were born and alive now, what you could do, what you were capable of doing. Those were ideas that interested me.

The really important reading that I did began in my late twenties, with authors like Flannery O'Connor. There was something in those stories of hers that I felt captured a certain part of the American character that I was interested in writing about. They were a big, big revelation. She got to the heart of some part of meanness that she never spelled out, because if she spelled it out you wouldn't be getting it. It was always at the core of every one of her stories-the way that she'd left that hole there, that hole that's inside of everybody. There was some dark thing-a component of spirituality-that I sensed in her stories, and that set me off exploring characters of my own. She knew original sin-knew how to give it the esh of a story. She had talent and she had ideas, and the one served the other.

I think I'd come out of a period of my own writing where I'd been writing big, sometimes operatic, and occasionally rhetorical things. I was interested in finding another way to write about those subjects, about people, another way to address what was going on around me and in the country-a more scaled-down, more personal, more restrained way of getting some of my ideas across. So right prior to the record Nebraska [1982], I was deep into O'Connor. And then, later on, that led me to Percy's books, and Bobbie Ann Mason's novels-I like her work.

I've also gotten a lot out of Robert Frank's photography in The Americans. I was twenty-four when I first saw the book-I think a friend had given me a copy-and the tone of the pictures, how he gave us a look at different kinds of people, got to me in some way. I've always wished I could write songs the way he takes pictures. I think I've got half a dozen copies of that book stashed around the house, and I pull one out once in a while to get a fresh look at the photographs.

I came by the film of The Grapes Of Wrsth before I really came by the book. I'd read the book in high school, along with Of Mice and Men and a few others, and then I read it again after I saw the movie. But I didn't grow up in a community of ideas-a place where you can sit down and talk about books, and how you read through them, and how they affect you. For a year, I went to a local college a few miles up the road from here, but I didn't really get much out of that particular place. I think I'm more a product of pop culture: films and records, films and records, films and records, especially early on. And then later, more novels and reading.

Up until the late seventies, when I started to write songs that had to do with class issues, I was influenced more by music like the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" or "It's My Life (And I'll Do What I Want)"-sort of class-conscious pop records that I'd listen to-and I'd say to myself: "That's my life, that's my life!" They said something to me about my own experience of exclusion. I think that's been a theme that's run through much of my writing: the politics of exclusion. My characters aren't really antiheroes. Maybe that makes them old-fashioned in some way. They're interested in being included, and they're trying to figure out what's in their way.

I'd been really involved with country music right prior to the album Darkness on the Edge of Town [1978], and that had a lot of affect on my writing because I think country is a very class-conscious music. And then that interest slowly led me into Woody Guthrie and folk music. Guthrie was one of the few songwriters at the time who was aware of the political implications of the music he was writing-a real part of his consciousness. He set out intentionally to address a wide variety of issues, to have some effect, to have some impact, to be writing as a way to have some impact on things: playing his part in the way things are moving and things change.

I was always trying to shoot for the moon. I had some lofty ideas about using my own music, to give people something to think about-to think about the world, and what's right and wrong. I'd been affected that way by records, and I wanted my own music and writing to extend themselves in that way.

When I'd write rock music, music with the whole band, it would sometimes start out purely musically, and then I'd find my way to some lyrics. I haven't written like that in a while. In much of my recent writing, the lyrics have preceded the music, though the music is always in the back of my mind. In most of the recent songs, I tell violent stories very quietly. You're hearing characters' thoughts-what they're thinking after all the events that have shaped their situation have transpired. So I try to get that internal sound, like that feeling at night when you're in bed and staring at the ceiling, reflective in some fashion. I wanted the songs to have the kind of intimacy that took you inside yourself and then back out into the world.

I'll use music as a way of defining and coloring the characters, conveying the characters' rhythm of speech and pace. The music acts as a very still surface, and the lyrics create a violent emotional life over it, or under it, and I let those elements bang up against each other.

Music can seem incidental, but it ends up being very important. It allows you to suggest the passage of time in just a couple of quiet beats. Years can go by in a few bars, whereas a writer will have to come up with a clever way of saying, "And then years went by. . . ." Thank God I don't have to do any of that! Songwriting allows you to cheat tremendously. You can present an entire life in a few minutes. And then hopefully, at the end, you reveal something about yourself and your audience and the person in the song. It has a little in common with short-story writing in that it's character-driven. The characters are confronting the questions that everyone is trying to sort out for themselves, their moral issues, the way those issues rear their heads in the outside world.

There's no single place where any of the songs come from, of course. True, I drew a lot of my earlier material from my experience growing up, my father's experience, the experience of my immediate family and town. But there was a point in the mid-eighties when I felt like I'd said pretty much all I knew how to say about all that. I couldn't continue writing about those same things without either becoming a stereotype of myself or by twisting those themes around too much. So I spent the next ten years or so writing about men and women-their intimate personal lives. I was being introspective but not autobiographical. It wasn't until I felt like I had a stable life in that area that I was driven to write more outwardly-about social issues.

A song like "Sinaloa Cowboys" came from a lot of places. I'd met a guy in the Arizona desert when I happened to be on a trip with some friends of mine, and he had a younger brother who died in a motorcycle accident. There's something about conversations with people-people you've met once and you'll never see again-that always stays with me. And I lived for quite a while in Los Angeles, and border reporting and immigration issues are always in the paper there. I've traveled down to the border a number of times.

With my dad, I'd take trips to Mexico a few years back. We'd take these extended road trips where we'd basically drive aimlessly. The border wasn't something I was consciously thinking about, it was just one of those places that all of a sudden starts meaning something to you. I'm always looking for ways to tell a particular story, and I just felt the connection, I can't explain what it was exactly-a connection to some of the things I'd written about in the past.

I don't think you sit down and write anything that isn't personal in some way. In the end, all your work is a result of your own psychology and experience. I never really write with a particular ideology in mind. As a writer, you're searching for ways to present different moral questions-to yourself because you're not sure how you will respond, and to your audience. That's what you get paid for-from what I can tell. Part of what we call entertainment should be "food for thought." That's what I was interested in doing since I was very young, how we live in the world and how we ought live in the world. I think politics are implicit. I'm not interested in writing rhetoric or ideology. I think it was Walt Whitman who said, "The poet's job is to know the soul." You strive for that, assist your audience in finding and knowing theirs. That's always at the core of what you're writing, of what drives your music.

It's all really in Percy's essay "The Man on the Train," about the "wandering spirit" and modern man-all that's happened since the Industrial Revolution when people were uprooted and set out on the road into towns where they'd never been before, leaving families, leaving traditions that were hundreds of years old. In a funny way, you can even trace that story in Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." I think that we're all trying to find what passes for a home, or creating a home of some sort, while we're constantly being uprooted by technology, by factories being shut down.

I remember when my parents moved out to California-I was about eighteen. My folks decided that they were going to leave New Jersey, but they had no idea really where to go. I had a girlfriend at the time and she was sort of a hippie. She was the only person we knew who'd ever been to California. She'd been to Sausalito and suggested they go there. You can just imagine-Sausalito in the late sixties! So they went to Sausalito, three thousand miles across the country, and they probably had only three grand that they'd saved and that had to get them a place to live, and they had to go out and find work. So they got to Sausalito and realized this wasn't it. My mother said they went to a gas station and she asked the guy there, "Where do people like us live?"-that's a question that sounds like the title of a Raymond Carver story!-and the guy told her, "Oh, you live on the peninsula." And that was what they did. They drove down south of San Francisco and they've been there ever since. My father was forty-two at the time-it's funny to think that he was probably seven or eight years younger than I am now. It was a big trip, took a lot of nerve, a lot of courage, having grown up in my little town in New Jersey.

But that story leads back to those same questions: how do you create the kind of home you want to live in, how do you create the kind of society you want to live in, what part do you play in doing that? To me, those things are all connected, but those connections are hard to make. The pace of the modern world, industrialization, postindustrialization, have all made human connection very difficult to maintain and sustain. To bring that modern situation alive-how we live now, our hang-ups and choices-that's what music and film and art are about-that's the service you're providing, that's the function you're providing as an artist. That's what keeps me interested in writing.

What we call "art" has to do with social policy-and it has to do with how you and your wife or you and your lover are getting along on any given day. I was interested in my music covering all those bases. And how do I do that? I do that by telling stories, through characters' voices-hopefully stories about inclusion. The stories in The Ghost of Tom Joad were an extension of those ideas: stories about brothers, lovers, movement, exclusion-political exclusion, social exclusion-and also the responsibility of these individuals-making bad choices, or choices they've been backed up against the wall to make.

The way all those things intersect is what interests me. The way the social issues and the personal issues cross over one another. To me, that's how people live. These things cross over our lives daily. People get tangled up in them, don't know how to address them, get lost in them. My work is a map, for whatever it's worth-for both my audience and for myself-and it's the only thing of value along with, hopefully, a well-lived life that we leave to the people we care about. I was lucky that I stumbled onto this opportunity early in my life. I think that the only thing that was uncommon was that I found a language that I was able to express those ideas with. Other people all the time struggle to find the language, or don't find the language-the language of the soul-or explode into violence or indifference or numbness, just numbed out in front of TV. "The Language"-that's what William Carlos Williams kept saying, the language of live people, not dead people!

If I'm overgeneralizing, just stop me. I'm not sure if I am or not, but in some fashion that's my intent, to establish a commonality by revealing our inner common humanity, by telling good stories about a lot of different kinds of people. The songs on the last album connected me up with my past, with what I'd written about in my past, and they also connected me up with what I felt was the future of my writing.

I've made records that I knew would find a smaller audience than others that I've made. I suppose the larger question is, How do you get that type of work to be heard-despite the noise of modern society and the media, two hundred television channels? Today, people are swamped with a lot of junk, so the outlets and the avenues for any halfway introspective work tend to be marginalized. The last record might have been heard occasionally on the radio, but not very much. It's a paradox for an artist-if you go into your work with the idea of having some effect upon society, when, by the choice of the particular media, it's marginalized from the beginning. I don't know of any answer, except the hope that somehow you do get heard-and there are some publishing houses and television channels and music channels that are interested in presenting that kind of work.

I think you have to feel like there's a lot of different ways to reach people, help them think about what's really important in this one-and-only life we live. There's pop culture-that's the shotgun approach, where you throw it out and it gets interpreted in different ways and some people pick up on it. And then there's a more intimate, focused approach like I tried on Tom Joad. I got a lot of correspondence about the last album from a lot of different people-writers, teachers, those who have an impact in shaping other people's lives.

When punk rock music hit in the late 1970s, it wasn't played on the radio, and nobody thought, Oh yeah, that'll be popular in 1992 for two generations of kids. But the music dug in, and now it has a tremendous impact on the music and culture of the nineties. It was powerful, profound, music and it was going to find a way to make itself heard eventually. So I think there's a lot of different ways of achieving the kind of impact that most writers and filmmakers, photographers, musicians want their work to have. It's not always something that happens right away-the "Big Bang"!

With the exception of certain moments in the history of popular culture, it's difficult to tell what has an impact anymore, and particularly now when there's so many alternatives. Now, we have the fifth Batman movie! I think about the part in the essay "The Man on the Train" where Percy talks about alienation. He says the truly alienated man isn't the guy who's despairing and trying to find his place in the world. It's the guy who just finished his twentieth Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason novel. That is the lonely man! That is the alienated man! So you could say, similarly, the guy who just saw the fifth Batman picture, he's the alienated man. But as much as anyone, I still like to go out on a Saturday night and buy the popcorn and watch things explode, but when that becomes such a major part of the choices that you have, when you have sixteen cinemas and fourteen of them are playing almost exactly the same picture, you feel that something's going wrong here. And if you live outside a major metropolitan area, maybe you're lucky if there's a theater in town that's playing films that fall slightly outside of those choices.

There's an illusion of choice that's out there, but it's an illusion, it's not real choice. I think that's true in the political arena and in pop culture, and I guess there's a certain condescension and cynicism that goes along with it-the assumption that people aren't ready for something new and different.

I don't know, it's the old story-a lot of it is how you play your role. My music was in some sense inclusive and pretty personal, maybe even friendly. I've enjoyed the trappings from time to time, but I think I like a certain type of freedom. Of course, I enjoy my work being recognized, and when you get up on stage in front of twenty thousand people and you shake your butt all around, you're asking for some sort of trouble. I hope I've kept my balance. I enjoy my privacy.

I don't think the fascination with celebrities will ever really go away. An intellectual would say that people in the Industrial Age left their farms and their towns, so they couldn't gossip with their neighbors over the fence anymore-and all of a sudden there was a rise of a celebrity culture so we could have some people in common that we could talk about.

The substantive moral concern might be that we live in a country where the only story might be who's succeeding and who's number one, and what are you doing with it. It sure does become a problem if a certain part of your life as a writer-your "celebrity," or whatever you want to call it-can blur and obscure the story that you're interested in telling. I've felt that and seen that at certain times. One of the most common questions I was asked on the last tour, even by very intelligent reviewers was, "Why are you writing these songs? What are you complaining about? You've done great." That's where Percy's essay "Notes on a Novel about the End of the World" was very helpful to me and my writing. He addresses the story behind those same comments: "The material is so depressing. The songs are so down." He explains the moral and human purpose of writing by using that analogy of the canary that goes down into the mine with the miners: when the canary starts squawking and squawking and finally keels over, the miners figure it's time to come up and think things over a little bit. That's the writer-the twentieth-century writer is the canary for the larger society.

Maybe a lot of us use the idea of "celebrity" to maintain the notion that everything is all right, that there's always someone making their million the next day. As a celebrity, you don't worry about your bills, you have an enormous freedom to write and to do what you want. You can live with it well. But if your work is involved in trying to show where the country is hurting and where people are hurting, your own success is used to knock down or undercut the questions you ask of your audience. It's tricky, because American society has a very strict idea of what success is and what failure is. We're all "born in the U.S.A." and some part of you carries that with you. But it's ironic if "celebrity" is used to reassure lots of people, barely making it, that "Look, someone's really making it, making it big, so everything is all right, just lose yourself and all your troubles in that big-time success!"

There's nobody waiting with bated breath out there for my next video right now. I've never been much of a video artist. I was "prevideo," and I think I remain "prevideo," though maybe I'm "postvideo" now.

Music videos have had an enormous impact on the way that you receive visual images on television and in the theaters-and it sped up the entire way the music world worked, for better or for worse. When I started, you had a band, you toured two or three, four years, you did a thousand shows or five hundred shows, that's how you built your audience, and then maybe you had a hit record. I feel sorry for some of these talented young bands that come up: they have a hit record, a video or two, and then it's over. I think it might have made the music world more fickle. In some ways, it may be more expedient for some of the young acts, but I think it's harder also, because you don't have the time to build a long-standing relationship with your audience.

There was something about developing an audience slowly-you'd draw an audience that stood with you over a long period of time, and it got involved with the questions you were asking and the issues you were bringing up. It's an audience who you shared a history with. I saw the work that I was doing as my life's work. I thought I'd be playing music my whole life and writing my whole life, and I wanted to be a part of my audience's ongoing life. The way you do that is the same way your audience lives its life-you do it by attempting to answer the questions that both you and they have asked, sometimes with new questions. You find where those questions lead you to-your actions in the world. You take it out of the aesthetic and you hopefully bring it into your practical, everyday life, the moral or ethical.

"Man on the Train" helped me think about these things in some fashion, where Percy dissects the old Western movie heroes. We have our mythic hero, Gary Cooper, who is capable of pure action, where it's either all or nothing, and he looks like he's walking over that abyss of anxiety, and he won't fail. Whereas the moviegoer, the person watching the movie, is not capable of that. There's no real abyss under Gary Cooper, but there is one under the guy watching the film! Bringing people out over that abyss, helping them and myself to realize where we all "are," helping my audience answer the questions that are there-that's what I'm interested in doing with my own work.

That's what I try to accomplish at night in a show. Presenting ideas, asking questions, trying to bring people closer to characters in the songs, closer to themselves-so that they take those ideas, those questions-fundamental moral questions about the way we live and the way we behave toward one another-and then move those questions from the aesthetic into the practical, into some sort of action, whether it's action in the community, or action in the way you treat your wife, or your kid, or speak to the guy who works with you. That is what can be done, and is done, through film and music and photography and painting. Those are real changes I think you can make in people's lives, and that I've had made in my life through novels and films and records and people who meant something to me. Isn't that what Percy meant by "existentialist reflection"?

And there's a lot of different ways that gets done. You don't have to be doing work that's directly socially conscious. You could make an argument that one of the most socially conscious artists in the second half of this century was Elvis Presley, even if he probably didn't start out with any set of political ideas that he wanted to accomplish. He said, "I'm all shook up and I want to shake you up," and that's what happened. He had an enormous impact on the way that people lived, how they responded to themselves, to their own physicality, to the integration of their own nature. I think that he was one of the people, in his own way, who led to the sixties and the Civil Rights movement. He began getting us "all shook up," this poor white kid from Mississippi who connected with black folks through their music, which he made his own and then gave to others. So pop culture is a funny thing-you can affect people in a lot of different ways.

We were trying to excite people, we were trying to make people feel alive. The core of rock music was cathartic. There was some fundamental catharsis that occurred in "Louie, Louie." That lives on, that pursuit. Its very nature was to get people "in touch" with themselves and with each other in some fashion. So initially you were just trying to excite people, and make them happy, alert them to themselves, and do the same for yourself. It's a way of combating your own indifference, your own tendency to slip into alienation and isolation. That's also in "Man on the Train": we can't be alienated together. If we're all alienated together, we're really not alienated.

That's a lot of what music did for me-it provided me with a community, filled with people, and brothers and sisters who I didn't know, but who I knew were out there. We had this enormous thing in common, this "thing" that initially felt like a secret. Music always provided that home for me, a home where my spirit could wander. It performed the function that all art and film and good human relations performed-it provided me with the kind of "home" always described by those philosophers Percy loved.

There are very real communities that were built up around that notion-the very real community of your local club on Saturday night. The importance of bar bands all across America is that they nourish and inspire that community. So there are the very real communities of people and characters, whether it's in Asbury Park or a million different towns across the land. And then there is the community that it was enabling you to imagine, but that you haven't seen yet. You don't even know it exists, but you feel that, because of what you heard or experienced, it could exist.

That was a very powerful idea because it drew you outward in search of that community-a community of ideas and values. I think as you get older and develop a political point of view, it expands out into those worlds, the worlds of others, all over America, and you realize it's just an extension of that thing that you felt in a bar on Saturday night in Asbury Park when it was a hundred and fifty people in the room.

What do you try to provide people? What do parents try to provide their children? You're supposed to be providing a hopeful presence, a decent presence, in your children's lives and your neighbors' lives. That's what I would want my children to grow up with and then to provide when they become adults. It's a big part of what you can do with song, and pictures and words. It's real and its results are physical and tangible. And if you follow its implications, it leads you both inward and outward. Some days we climb inside, and some days maybe we run out. A good day is a balance of those sort of things. When rock music was working at its best, it was doing all of those things-looking inward and reaching out to others.

To get back to where we started, it can be difficult to build those kinds of connections, to build and sustain those kinds of communities, when you're picked up and thrown away so quickly-that cult of celebrity. At your best, your most honest, your least glitzy, you shared a common history, and you attempted both to ask questions and answer them in concert with your audience. In concert. The word "concert"-people working together-that's the idea. That's what I've tried to do as I go along with my work. I'm thankful that I have a dedicated, faithful audience that's followed along with me a good part of the way. It's one of my life's great blessings-having that companionship and being able to rely on that companionship. You know, "companionship" means breaking bread with your brothers and sisters, your fellow human beings-the most important thing in the world! It's sustained my family and me and my band throughout my life.

There's a difference between an emotional connection with the underprivleged, like I think I do have, and a more physical, tangible impact. There was a point in the mid-eighties where I wanted to turn my music into some kind of activity and action, so that there was a practical impact on the communities that I passed through while I traveled around the country. On this last tour, I would meet a lot of the people who are out there on the front line-activists, legal advocates, social workers-and the people that they're involved with. It varied from town to town, but we'd usually work with an organization that's providing immediate care for people in distress, and then also we'd find an organization that's trying to have some impact on local policy. It helped me get a sense of what was going on in those towns, and the circumstances that surround the people that I'm imagining in my songs, in the imagined community I create with my music.

I'm sure I've gotten a lot more out of my music than I've put in, but those meetings and conversations keep me connected so that I remember the actual people that I write about. But I wouldn't call myself an activist. I'm more of a concerned citizen. I think I'd say that I'm up to my knees in it, but I'm not up to my ass!

I guess I'm-rock bottom-a concerned, even aroused observer, sort of like the main character of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Not that I'm invisible! But Ellison's character doesn't directly take on the world. He wants to see the world change, but he's mainly a witness, a witness to a lot of blindness. I recently heard two teachers, one black and one white, talking about that novel, and it sure got to them; it's what Ellison wanted it to be, it's a great American story-and in a way we're all part of it.
Monday, January 22nd, 2001
10:35 am
"The Boss" Is On Your Side
For once, the boss is on the side of working people. "The Boss" is me, the rock and roll star who gained fame with hits like "Born in the U.S.A."

At a recent performance in Detroit, I announced that I would donate a portion of the proceeds from merchandise sales at my concerts there to striking newspaper workers in the city. I promised to match the funds with an equal amount of my own money.

More than 2,000 newspaper workers in Detroit, including members of Teamsters Locals 372 and 2040, have been on strike since July against the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.

I am known for making donations to community organizations in each town I play and encouraging my audiences to support them as well. I've assisted food banks, homeless shelters and other local charities.

Early in my career, I raised about $100,000 to help get the Vietnam Veterans of America off the ground.

At the Detroit show, I performed "The Promised Land," a song from my 1978 album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and dedicated it to the strikers.

"I can only imagine what it must be like if I stand up for what I believe in and I may never work again in my city," I told the audience.
"Whatever their faults, unions have been the only powerful and effective voice working people have ever had in the history of this country."

My support for striklng Detroit newspaper workers came in the middle of my first solo acoustic tour. With only a guitar and a harmonica, I am performing quiet, haunting songs from my new cd, The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Whlle my style has changed, my themes haven't. I've spent my career writing songs about workers and veterans, the increasing gap between the rich and the rest of us, and how the "American Dream" is just that for many Americans.

The new cd's title is drawn from the Tom Joad character in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, a novel about a family of farm workers who migrated from Oklahoma to California durlng the Great Depression. The songs are about freedom, dreams, and broken promises.

In my music, striker Ben Solomon hears stories about workers who have been stepped on and are trying to pull themselves up.

"That's what's happening here in Detroit and what's happened in communities all over," Solomon said. "Bruce Springsteen sees what's going on, he understands it, and even if it's not popular or upbeat, he sings about it in a way people can relate to."
Sunday, January 21st, 2001
11:36 pm
Lucky Town
Produced by Bruce Springsteen with Jon Landau and Chuck Plotkin
Additional production by Roy Bittan : "Leap of faith", "The big muddy", "Living proof"

Recorded by Toby Scott
Mixed by Bob Clearmountain
Mastered by Bob Ludwig

Bruce Springsteen, all instruments
Gary Mallabar, drums

Mastered at Masterdisk
Digital editing : Scott Hull

Recorded at Thrill Hill Recording
Additional recording and mixing at A & M Studios
Assistant : Greg Goldman, Robert "RJ" Jaczko, Randy Wine
Digital editing : Dave Collins

Art direction : Sandra Choron
Cover photography : David Rose
Typography design : Victor Weaver
Interior photography : Pam Springsteen ; David Rose

Management : Jon Landau, Barbara Carr

"Better days" :
Randy Jackson, bass
Lisa Lowell, backing vocals
Patti Scialfa, backing vocals
Soozie Tyrell, backing vocals

"Lucky Town" :
Bruce Springsteen, bass

"Local hero" :
Lisa Lowell, backing vocals
Patti Scialfa, backing vocals
Soozie Tyrell, backing vocals

"Leap of faith" :
Roy Bittan, keyboards
Lisa Lowell, backing vocals
Patti Scialfa, backing vocals
Soozie Tyrell, backing vocals

"The big muddy" :
Roy Bittan, keyboard bass

"Living proof" :
Roy Bittan, keyboards

"My beautiful reward" :
Ian McLagen, Hammond organ
4:46 am
Steve and Garry, I love you guys, man
About three years ago me and Steve, guitar man and my bass player, Garry, we had this, we had this band in Asbury Park. We were working this little bar. It was this place called the Student Prince. We was playing all the time right? It was like this little club, you know. It was this little place we played at there.
We'd been down playing in that area for six or seven years and we're playing this club. We were in about fourth or fifth month at this club and we was trying at the time, we was trying to get this, like, get this, get some kind of record deal or something, you know. We was trying to figure out how we was gonna get into the big time and stuff, you know.
So...so we had these cats hustling for us in New York and these cats promising to bring down these managers you know, '...Man I'm gonna bring the manager down from...these guys are gonna come down and listen to youse tonight so you better be real good.' and stuff, you know, so we'd play our...listen boys.
So it's like, so me and Steve sat around late one night figuring out why we wasn't getting this break, you know. What was the matter? What, what we was missing? You figure you're always missing something, you know, if you can't get something going so we was going over it...we figured we had the right repertoire and stuff. We was playing like a lot of Chuck Berry songs and things and we figured we had the teen appeal, you know, because we had the bass player; had long hair and stuff right? Everybody...every...figure...all, all the girls liked the bass player with the long hair, you know.
So we couldn't figure out what, what was the matter right? This man knows already what was the matter...you blew my whole thing. Where you from? Go back there. I don't know blew rap.
ANYway, anyway it was late; late as hell, right? It was late, nasty night and me and Steve was walking down the street. We didn't get, you know, we didn't care about nothing. We didn't, didn't, was doing nothing. We was just trying to get home. Gonna watch some TV or something you know. So we was walking down the street like this; just the way we always walk. Steve always walks with his guitar cause he don't trust nobody with his guitar. So like, so like he always had his guitar with him, you know, so we was doing this thing.
All a sudden way down the end of the street we seen something coming. We didn't know what it was Give me a break! Give me a BREAK! Gonna get punched out.
ANYway we didn't know what it was at the time so we got a little closer and could see it was, it was some, some, big, the biggest, the biggest thing we ever seen coming down on us at four in the morning out in the middle of Asbury Park. It was dark, it was raining and the guy was obviously carrying some appendage of malfeasance which appeared to be a saxophone. So we duck in the doorway and from way down the end of the street we heard somebody playing a few notes there and didn't know what it was. Then there was nothing. There was no sound at all. We heard the footsteps coming closer; the footsteps coming closer and the guy turned and started walking right at us and we started walking right at him.
Was at this point I slowly took all the money out of my pocket and put it into his pocket. Didn't move. I hung my hat on what appeared to be the saxophone which I figured at any moment I was going get whipped over the head with it but all the guy did was...Steve...it was like nothing. But man when we touched...Sparks.
Saturday, January 20th, 2001
10:28 pm
Blinded By The Light
Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasing sneezing and wheezing the calliope crashed to the ground
Some all-hot half-shot was headin’ for the hot spot snappin’ his fingers clappin’ his hands,
And some fleshpot mascot was tied into a lover’s knot with a whatnot in her hand
And now young Scott with a slingshot finally found a tender spot and throws his lover in the sand
And some bloodshot forget-me-not whispers daddy’s within earshot save the buckshot turn up the band

And she was blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
She got down but she never got tight, but she’ll make it alright

Some brimstone baritone anti-cyclone rolling stone preacher from the east
He says, "Dethrone the dictaphone, hit it in its funny bone, that’s where they expect it least."
And some new-mown chaperone was standin’ in the corner all alone watchin’ the young girls dance
And some fresh-sown moonstone was messin’ with his frozen zone to remind him of the feeling of romance

Yeah he was blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
He got down but he never got tight, but he’s gonna make it tonight

Some silicone sister with her manager’s mister told me I got what it takes
She said I’ll turn you on sonny, to something strong if you play that song with the funky break,
And go-cart Mozart was checkin’ out the weather chart to see if it was safe to go outside
And little Early-Pearly came by in her curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride.
Oh, some hazard from Harvard was skunked on beer playin’ backyard bombardier
Yes and Scotland Yard was trying hard, they sent some dude with a calling card, he said, Do what you like, but don’t do it here.
Well, I jumped up, turned around, spit in the air, fell on the ground
Asked him which was the way back home
He said take a right at the light, keep goin’ straight until night, and then, boy, you’re on your own.

And now in Zanzibar a shootin’ star was ridin’ in a side car hummin’ a lunar tune
Yes, and the avatar said blow the bar but first remove the cookie jar we’re gonna teach those boys to laugh too soon.

And some kidnapped handicap was complainin’ that he caught the clap from some mousetrap he bought last night,

Well I unsnapped his skull cap and between his ears I saw
a gap but figured he’d be all right

He was just blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh but mama that’s where the fun is
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