The A-Z Of Bruce Springsteen

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Photo: Danny Clinch

This Bank Holiday weekend on Radio Nova we celebrate the new Bruce Springsteen album ‘Letter to you’ with an A-Z of Springsteen.

Each hour , starting on Saturday morning and running through until Bank Holiday Monday evening, we’ll work through the Bruce Springsteen alphabet with songs and facts.

We also have copies of the album to giveaway plus we’ll play the album in full at 9pm on Sunday evening and a fantastic MTV “Plugged” Gig on Monday night just after 6pm.

Bruce Springsteen’s new album Letter To You captures the incomparable power of performing in a rock band, marking the E Street Band’s first time recording live together in decades on a collection centered around the unbreakable bonds formed by a life in music.

Letter To You is filled with the energy of a live show from Springsteen and the E Street Band as they return together for the first time since The River 2016 tour. The album’s twelve tracks include material recently-written by Springsteen for the E Street Band, as well as new versions of legendary but previously unreleased compositions from the 1970s. Each serves as a tribute to the E Street Band, to rock music itself and to the role it has played in Springsteen’s life.

Letter To You also arrives with a feature-length accompanying documentary titled Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You, which is out now exclusively through Apple TV+. The film, directed by Thom Zimny, features full performances from the E Street Band, in-studio footage and never-before-seen archival material. Throughout the documentary, Springsteen provides a deeper look into Letter To You, sharing the thoughts and feelings behind the record and putting the new music into the context of his entire body of work.

So what is the A-Z of “The Boss”?

A.

Is for the Asbury Park Public library. It was the original location of the biggest Bruce Springsteen Memorabilia collection. It got so big it had to be moved to Monmouth University. It contains more than 15,000 documents, newspaper clippings, magazines photographs and even three of Bruce’s high school year books. And also greeting from Asbury Park was Bruce’s first album.

B.

Is for Born to Run. It’s the title of his autobiography which is a must read for all fans, released in 2016. It’s also considered to be his masterpiece song. The song took 6 months to record and The Boss himself recalls he heard “sounds in [his] head” that he could not explain to the others in the studio. The song ranked number 21 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

C.

Is for Clarence Clemons. Clarence Anicholas Clemons Jr. (January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011), also known as The Big Man, From 1972 until his death in 2011, he was the saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. 10th  avenue Freeze-out, the song tells the story of Bruce and Clarence meeting. Even Bruce Springsteen admits that he has no idea what the term “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” means –  but the song tells the story of Bruce meeting Clarence. Springsteen is “Scooter” and Clarence is, obviously, the Big Man. 

Bruce Springsteen presents a new weekly show ON RADIO NOVA called “From My Home to Yours” every Thursday evening at 7pm (repeated Sunday mornings at 9am).

D.

Is for Dancing in the Dark. Legend has it that Springsteen’s manager listened to the recordings of Born in The USA and claimed it needed a ‘pop song’. Bruce told him to go write it himself which fortunately he didn’t and later that evening Bruce wrote Dancing in the Dark. It was also the first ‘commercial’ video he ever recorded and featured an unknown Courtney Cox plucked from audience to dance with the Boss.

E.

Is for the E Street Band. The legendary backing band for Bruce from 1972 until 1989 when he dispensed of their services. They were temporarily reunited in 1995 and then more permanently in 1999. One of their greatest moments since the reunion was the album The Rising released in 2002.

F.

Is for Fender Telecaster, Bruce’s favourite guitar. In fact his favourite guitar is made up from two Fenders , sort of pieced together. According to his autobiography his first guitar as a rented guitar from Diehl’s Music Store in Freehold which after never really learning how to play it he had to return it to the shop.

G.

Is for Grammy Nominations, and let’s face it Bruce has had many Grammy Nominations. He has been nominated for 50 grammys and won 20. Let’s go back to 2008 when he won best solo rock performance and best rock song for ‘Radio Nowhere.’

H.

Is for the Rock n’Roll Hall of Fame. On the 15th March 1999 Bono inducted Bruce into the Rock n’Roll Hall of Fame. Coincidentally Six years later Bruce would induct Bono and U2 into the Rock n’Roll hall fame. 1999 was also the year that Bruce and the E street began their reunion tour, the first time since 1988  Tunnel of Love tour.

I.

Is for in his own words. The 2016 autobiography traces his life from being a 10 year old on the streets of New Jersey to being the worlds biggest rock star. In his own words he also lists his own favourite songs which are ‘Born to Run, ‘The Rising’, ‘Nebraska’, ‘Racing In The Street’, and ‘Thunder Road’.

Bruce Springsteen presents a new weekly show ON RADIO NOVA called “From My Home to Yours” every Thursday evening at 7pm (repeated Sunday mornings at 9am).

J.

Is for Bruce Fredrick JOSEPH Springsteen born September 23rd. J is also for Jessica Springsteen, Bruce’s daughter and a show jumping champion who has represented the United States Equestrian Team in international competition.

K.

Is for the King of Rock N’ Roll. Bruce was obsessed with Elvis after he saw his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show watched by 70million Americans. Bruce actually wrote ‘Fire’ for Elvis but unfortunately he never recorded it. Mind you it did become a huge hit for the Pointer Sisters.

L.

Is for Jon Landau. The legendary manger of Bruce Springsteen. Landau’s is credited with the 1974 article in The Real Paper, wherein he claimed, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen,”  Landau was subsequently hired by Springsteen, and is cited as co-producer on Springsteen studio records from 1975’s Born to Run through 1992’s Human Touch and Lucky Town. Landau is considered to have influenced Springsteen artistically as well as professionally.

M.

Is for $2 million dollars which it’s claimed Bruce paid each member of the E Street Band when he dispensed of their services in 1989. It was considered a once off severance payment.

N.

Is for Newsweek. In the last week of October 1975 Bruce appeared on the cover of Newsweek and Time magazine. It was the first time a ‘musician’ appeared on both at the same time. Time magazines’ headline was ‘Rock’s new sensation’ and Newsweek led with ‘The making of a rock star.’ The articles were written as a response to the breakthrough success of the album Born to Run. He’s been on the cover of the Rolling Stone an amazing 22 times. He last appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone to promote the 2012 Wrecking Ball tour.

O.

Is for Barack Obama. President Obama was a huge fan of the Boss’s. He was once quoted as saying ‘I may be the president but he’ll always be The Boss. President Obama awarded Bruce The Presidential medal of freedom in November 2016. Bruce Springsteen, pretty much a regular visitor at the White House during the Obama years and he bade farewell to the Obama administration by returning to the White House for a 15-song farewell gig for the president and his staff. Bruce performed acoustically. He was joined by his wife, Patti Scialfa, on two songs – Tougher Than the Rest and If I Should Fall Behind.

P.

Is for Patti Sciafla. Bruce’s second wife. He was first married to the actress Julianne Phillips, which only lasted 3 years. Patti had joined the E street band as Backing vocalist and guitar player and the guys got married in 1991. If you watch the movie Western Stars you’ll see and hear Patti on guitar and vocals with Bruce.

Q.

Is for Queenie. Which was the affectionate name Bruce’s mum, Adele, had when she was growing up because she was so spoiled. Q is also for Queen of The Supermarket. After a new supermarket was opened close to his house , the Boss was amazed with the new store and so he wrote a song about it and here it is.

R.

Is for the legendary song Rosalita. If you’ve ever been to a Bruce gig, this is often the highlight of the evening. It was Never released as a single in U.S. and generally unknown upon its initial album release, “Rosalita” began to get FM radio airplay when an advance version of “Born to Run” was given out to rock radio stations. As Springsteen gained commercial success, “Rosalita” became one of his most popular radio hit. The song, despite never receiving an official US single release, has been lauded hugely by music critics in the years since its release in 1973. On its release Ken Emerson of Rolling Stone dubbed it “a raucous celebration of desire.

S.

Is for Slane Castle. Were you there? It was the 1st of June 1985 and it was the first arena gig for the Bruce and the E Street Band. In Bruce’s words, ‘It was the largest crowd I’d ever seen, the closest to the stage were deeply into their Guinness and swaying from left to right. I thought somebody was going to be killed and it would be my fault.’ Thankfully no one was killed but what a day.

Bruce Springsteen presents a new weekly show ON RADIO NOVA called “From My Home to Yours” every Thursday evening at 7pm (repeated Sunday mornings at 9am).

T.

Is for Twist and Shout. The first song Bruce learnt to play on the guitar. His career in music was started when his motherAdele bought him a guitar as a youngster for $18. She later took out a loan to buy him a $65 Kent guitar when he was 16. He thought himself how to play guitar and to this day he still claims he can’t read music. T is also for The River.

U.

Is for Uncle Al’s Erlton Lounge. It was August 14th 1973 that a little known scrawny rocker took to the stage at Uncle Al’s legendary bowling alley. Nobody knew Bruce, in fact on the flyers they even misspelled his name as Bruce Springstein! Locals, who never heard of him before, asked ‘Who was this Jewish Rock n’Roller.

V.

Is for Virginia Springsteen. Or Virgina Springsteen Shave who is Bruce’s sister. His other sibling is Pamela Springsteen who went on to be an actress. If anyone remembers the character Angela Baker in the cult/horror movie, that was Bruce’s sister. V is also for the Vietnam War a subject Bruce dealt within many of his songs, none better than Born in The USA.

W.

Is for the Wrecking Ball Tour in 2012. It was the first tour for Bruce and the E street Band without Clarence Clemmons. In an attempt to fill the void left by Clemons, Springsteen added a full horn section, which included Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew. Three background singers and a percussionist were also added, giving the E Street Band its largest lineup ever at seventeen members.. From the Wrecking Ball album here’s We Take Care of Our Own.

X.

X is for X-Ray. In 1967 Bruce was in a crash when his small Yamaha motorcycle was hit by a 63’ Chevvy. Bruce was knocked out cold, taken to hospital and had his leg X-Rayed. His hair was so long some doctors refused to treat his head injury. His father was so embarrassed he had a barber come around while he was on crutches and cut his hair.

Y.

Is for ‘You’re Missing’. We go back to the Rising album. An album about loss and hope. Recorded after 9/11 some say the song is about the grief of a family losing their father/husband especially in the 9/11 terrorist attack. Some say it’s also the grief Bruce felt after the death of his dad who passed away in 1998.

Z.

Is for Steve Van Zandt. One of Bruce’s longest and oldest friends. Springsteen revealed that Van Zandt was partially responsible for the signature guitar line in “Born to Run”; “Arguably Steve’s greatest contribution to my music.” Ultimately, Van Zandt officially joined the E Street Band on July 20, 1975. He left the E street Band due to artistical difference but he remained one of Bruce’s best buddies. As an actor Steve played the role of Silvio Dante.