Seconda parte dell’ articolo tratto da Musician del febbraio 1981.
Vi è piaciuto?
“There’s a beauty in work and I love it, all different kinds of work. That’s what I consider it. This is my job, and that’s my work. And I work my ass off, you know.”
MUSICIAN: The way the stage show is organized is that the first half is about work and struggling; the second half is about joy, release, transcending a lot of those things in the first half. Is that conscious?
SPRINGSTEEN: I knew that I wanted a certain feeling for the first set. That’s sorta the way it stacks up.
MUSICIAN: What you rarely get a sense of around rock bands is work, especially rock
and roll as a job of work. Yet around this band, you can’t miss it.
SPRINGSTEEN: That’s at the heart of the whole thing. There’s a beauty in work and I love it, all different kinds of work. That’s what I consider it. This is my job, and that’s my work. And I work my ass off, you know.
MUSICIAN: In Los Angeles one night, when you introduced “Factory,” you made a distinction between two different kinds of work. Do you remember what it was?
SPRINGSTEEN: There’s people that get a chance to do the kind of work that changes the world, and make things really different. And then there’s the kind that just keeps the world from falling apart. And that was the kind that my dad always did. Cause we were always together as a family, and we grew up in a…good situation, where we had what we needed. And there was a lot of sacrifice on his part and my mother’s part for that to happen…
MUSICIAN: The River has a lot of those sorts of workers— the people in “Jackson Cage,” the guy in “The River” itself. SPRINGSTEEN: I never knew anybody who was unhappy with their job and was happy with their life. It’s your sense of purpose. Now, some people can find it elsewhere. Some people can work a job and find it some place else.
MUSICIAN: Like the character in “Racing in the Street”?
SPRINGSTEEN: Yeah. But I don’t know if that’s lasting. But people do, they find ways.
MUSICIAN: Or else… ?
SPRINGSTEEN: (Long pause) Or else they join the Ku Klux Klan or something. That’s where it can take you, you know. It can take you a lot of strange places.
MUSICIAN: Introducing “Factory” on a different night, you spoke about your father having been real angry, and then, after awhile, not being angry anymore. “He was just silent.” Are you still angry?
SPRINGSTEEN: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know if I know myself that well. I think I know myself a lot but I’m not sure. (Laughs) It’s impossible not to be [angry] when you see the state of things and look around. You have to be, somewhat.
MUSICIAN: Tonight, you were saying on stage that you found the election terrifying. That seems to go hand in hand with playing the M.U.S.E. benefits, and striking back at ticket scalpers in L.A. You wouldn’t have done those things two years ago, I don’t think. Are you finding social outlets for that anger now?
SPRINGSTEEN: That’s true. It’s just a whole values thing. Take the ticket thing. It’s a hustle. And a hustle has become . . . respected. In a lot of quarters—on a street level, dope pushers—it’s a respectable thing, to hustle somebody. I mean, how many times in the Watergate thing did people say about Nixon, “Well, he just wasn’t smart enough to get away with it.” Like his only mistake was that he didn’t get away with it. And there’s a certain point where people have become cynical, where the hustle, that’s the American way. I think it’s just turned upside down in a real bad way. I think it should
lose its respect.
MUSICIAN: Do you feel that way about nuclear energy?
SPRINGSTEEN: It’s just the whole thing, it’s the whole thing. It’s terrible, it’s horrible. Somewhere along the way, the idea, which I think was initially to get some fair transaction between people, went out the window. And what came in was, the most you can get. (Laughs) The most you can get and the least you
“To be a good live performer, you have to be instinctive. It’s like, to walk in the jungle, or to do anything where there’s a certain tightrope wire aspect, you need to be instinctive.”
can give. That’s why cars are the way they are today. It’s just an erosion of all the things that were true and right about the original idea.
MUSICIAN: But that isn’t something that was on your mind much until the Darkness album?
SPRINGSTEEN: Up to then, I didn’t think about too many things. In Greetings from Asbury Park, I did. And then I went off a-little bit, and sort of roundabout came back to it.
I guess it just started after Born to Run somehow. I had all that time off, and I spent a lotta time home. We were off for three years, and home for a long time. It came out of a local kind of thing —what my old friends were doing, what my relatives were doing. How things were affecting them, and what their lives were like. And what my life was like.
MUSICIAN: Did you have a sense that no one else was telling that story?
SPRINGSTEEN: I didn’t see it too much, except in the English stuff. Things were being addressed that way in that stuff.
MUSICIAN: You mean, for instance, the Clash?
SPRINGSTEEN: Yeah, all that kinda stuff. I liked it, I always liked that stuff. But there wasn’t too much stuff in America happening. It just seemed to me that’s the story. But there was a crucial level of things missing, and it is today still. Maybe it’s just me getting older and seeing things more as they are.
MUSICIAN: On Darkness, the character’s response is to isolate himself from any community, and try to beat the system on his own. The various characters on The River are much more living in the mainstream of society.
SPRINGSTEEN: That guy at the end of Darkness has reached a point where you just have to strip yourself of everything, to get yourself. together. For a minute, sometimes, you just have to get rid of everything, just to get yourself together inside, be able to push everything away. And I think that’s what happened at the end of the record.
And then there was the thing where the guy comes back.
MUSICIAN: And The River is what he sees?
SPRINGSTEEN: Yeah, these are his feelings. it’s pretty much there, and in the shows, it’s there now, too, I guess. I hate to get too literal about it, because I can never explain it as well as when I wrote about it. I hate to limit it. I look back at Darkness or the other records, and there were other things going on that I never knew were going on.
MUSICIAN: Do you like Born to Run and Darkness better now?
SPRINGSTEEN: Not particularly. On Darkness, I like the ideas, I’m not crazy about the performances. We play all those songs ten times better live. But I like the idea. Born to Run, I like the performances and the sound. Sometimes, it sounds funny
MUSICIAN: Young and innocent?
SPRINGSTEEN: Yeah, yeah. Same thing with The Wild and the Innocent. I have a hard time listening to any of those records. Certain things on each record I can listen to: “Racing in the Street,” “Backstreets,” “Prove It All Night,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” But not a lot, because either the performance doesn’t sound right to me, or the ideas sound like a long time ago.
MUSICIAN: Do you remember when you threw the birthday cake into the crowd, at the second M.U.S.E. concert?
SPRINGSTEEN: (Laughs) Oh yeah. That was a wild night.
MUSICIAN: You’d just turned 30 that night, and didn’t seem to be overjoyed by it. But a couple weeks ago in Cleveland, I was kidding Danny about turning 30, and said, “Oh yeah, we’re 30 now, can’t do what we used to do.” You said, real quick, “That’s not true.” What happened in that year? Was that significant, turning 30?
SPRINGSTEEN: I don’t remember. It just made me wanna do more things. I think, as a matter of fact, when we were in the studio, that was the thing that was big. I didn’t feel we were going too slow for what we were doing. But I felt that I wanted to be quicker just to have more time. I wanted to be touring, for one thing. I wanted to be touring right now.
MUSICIAN: But by the time you finish this tour, you’ll be crowding 32. Then, if you’re right and it’s just gonna take a year or so to make a record, you’ll be 33 or 34 by the time you get out again. Can you still have the stamina to do the kind of show you feel the need to do?
SPRINGSTEEN: Who knows? I’m sure it’ll be a different type of show. It’s impossible to tell and a waste of time guessin’.
When I was in the studio and wanted to play, it wasn’t the way I felt in a physical kind of way, it was what I felt mentally. I was excited about the record and I wanted to play those songs live. I wanted to get out there and travel around the world with people who were my friends. And see every place and play just as hard as we could play,
every place in the world. Just get into things, see things, see what happens.
MUSICIAN: Like in “Badlands”?
SPRINGSTEEN: That’s it. That’s the idea. I want to see what happens, what’s next. All I knew when I was in the studio, sometimes, was that I felt great that day. And I was wishing I was somewhere strange, playing. I guess that’s the thing I love doing the most. And it’s the thing that makes me feel most alert and alive.
MUSICIAN: You look awful before a show, and then those hours up there, which exhaust everyone else, refresh you.
SPRINGSTEEN: I always look terrible before the show. That’s when I feel worst. And after the show it’s like a million bucks. Simple as that. You feel a little tired but you never feel better. Nothing makes me ~, feel as good as those hours between when
you walk offstage, until I go to bed. That’s the hours that I live for. As feelings go, that’s ten on a scale of ten. I just feel like talking to people, going out back and meeting those kids, doing any damn thing. Most times I just come back and eat and lay down and feel good. Most people, I don’t think, get to feel that good, doing whatever they do.
MUSICIAN: You can’t get that in the studio?
SPRINGSTEEN: Sometimes, but it’s different. You get wired for two or three days or a week or so and then sometimes, you feel real low. I never feel as low, playing, as I do in the studio. You know, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do—go all over and play. See people and go all over the world. I want to see what all those people are like. I want to meet people from all different countries and stuff.
MUSICIAN: You’ve always liked to have a certain mobility, a certain freedom of movement. Can you still walk down the street?
SPRINGSTEEN: Oh sure, sure. It depends where you go. Usually…you can do anything you want to do. The idea that you can’t walk down the street is in people’s minds. You can walk down any street, any time. What you gonna be afraid of, someone coming up to you? In general, it’s not that different than it ever was, except you meet people you ordinarily might not meet—you meet some strangers and you talk to ’em for a little while.
The other night I went out, I went driving, we were in Denver. Got a car and went out, drove all around. Went to the movies by myself, walked in, got my popcorn. This guy comes up to me, real nice guy. He says, “Listen, you want to sit with me and my sister?” I said, “All right.” So we watch the movie (laughs). It was great, too, because it was that Woody Allen movie [Stardust Memories], the guy’s slammin’ to his fans. And I’m sittin’ there and this poor kid says, “Jesus, I don’t know what to say to ya. Is this the way it is? Is that how you feel?” I said, “No, I don’t feel like that so much.” And he had the amazing courage to come up to me at the end of the movie, and ask if I’d go home and meet his mother and father. I said, “What time is it?” It was 11 o’clock, so I said, “Well OK.”
So I go home with him; he lives out in some suburb. So we get over to the house and here’s his mother and father, laying out on the couch, watching TV and reading the paper. He brings me in and he says, “Hey I got Bruce Springsteen here.” And they don’t believe him. So he pulls me over, and he says, “This is Bruce Springsteen.” “Aw, g’wan,” they say. So he runs in his room and brings out an album and he holds it up to my face. And his mother says (breathlessly) “Ohhh yeah!” She starts yelling “Yeah,” she starts screaming.
And for two hours I was in this kid’s house, talking with these people, they were really nice, they cooked me up all this food, watermelon, and the guy gave me a ride home a few hours later.
I felt so good that night. Because here are these strange people I didn’t know, they take you in their house, treat you fantastic and this kid was real nice, they were real nice. That is something that can happen to me that can’t happen to most people. And when it does happen, it’s fantastic. You get somebody’s whole life in three hours. You get their parents, you get their sister, you get their family life, in three hours. And I went back to that hotel and felt really good because I thought, “Wow (almost whispering), what a thing to be able to do. What an experience to be able to have, to be able to step into some stranger’s life.”
And that’s what I thought about in the studio. I thought about going out and meeting people I don’t know. Going to France and Germany and Japan, and meeting Japanese people and French people and German people. Meeting them and seeing what they think, and being able to go over there with some
“But what a moment, what a mythic moment, what a mystery! Those rockabilly records are shrouded with mystery. Like these wild men came out from somewhere, and man, they were so alive. The joy and the abandon!”
thing. To go over there with a pocketful of ideas or to go over there with just something, to be able to take something over. And boom! To do it.
But you can’t do one without the other. I couldn’t do it if I hadn’t spent time in the studio, knowing what I saw and what I felt right now.
MUSICIAN: Because then you wouldn’t have that pocketful of ideas?
SPRINGSTEEN: Then, if you don’t have that, stay home or something. If you have some ideas to exchange, that’s what it’s about. That’s at the heart of it. I just wouldn’t go out and tour unless I had that. There wouldn’t be a reason.
The reason is you have some idea you wanna say. You have an idea about things, an opinion, a feeling about the way things are or the way things could be. You wanna go out and tell people about it. You wanna tell people, well, if everybody did this or if people thought this, maybe it would be better.
When we play the long show, that’s because it gives the whole picture.,And if you aren’t given the who picture, you’re not gonna get the whole picture. We play the first part…that first part is about those things that you said it was about. That’s the foundation, without that the rest couldn’t happen. Wouldn’t be no second half without the first half; couldn’t be all them other things, without those things. Without that foundation of the hard things,and the struggling things, the work things. That’s the heart, that’s what it comes down to.
And then on top of that, there’s the living, the things that surround that. That’s why the show’s so long. “You wanna leave out ‘Stolen Car’? No, that’s a little part of the puzzle.
“You wanna leave this out?” No that’s a little part of the puzzle. And at the end, if you want, you can look back and see… just a point of view really. You see somebody’s idea, the way somebody sees things. And you know somebody.
People go to that show, they know me. They know a lotta me, as much as I know that part of myself. That’s why, when I meet ’em on the street, they know you already. And you know them, too. Because of their response.
MUSICIAN: Even these days, it’s still not very far from the dressing room to the stage for you, is it?
SPRINGSTEEN: I don’t know if it is. I don’t know if it should be. I don’t know for sure how different
the thing is or how it’s perceived. Except a lot of the music is real idealistic, and I guess like anybody else, you don’t live up to it all the time. You just don’t. That’s the challenge.
You got to walk it like you talk it. That’s the idea. That’s the line. I guess that’s pretty much what it’s about.
The E Street Band Equipment Bruce Springsteen
Guitars: 1954 Esquire, modified with extra Telecaster pick-up (the guitar); 1956 Telecaster (spare); 1954 Telecaster (spare); Ovation six-string acoustic; two Rickenbacker 1 2-string electric; 1958 Gibson J-200 Acoustic guitar (this is the same guitar as Elvis’s original, and was a gift from crew members Mike Batlan, Marc Brickman and Bob Chirmside). Amps: Four pre-CBS Fender Bassman amps, ca. 1958- 1962; two Peavey Vintage amps (imitation Bassmans)—one of each is used onstage under the drum riser. Also: a prime time digital delay and harmonizer and an MXR distortion box. The Fender Esquire is modified with a battery operated impedence
transformer for long cable lengths. Information supplied by Mike Batlan, who also notes that there is an asterisk in front of the Esquire’s serial number, indicating that is was a factory reject, probably originally sold as a reject.
Miaml Steve Van Zandt MUSICIAN. What equipment do you use on stage? VAN ZANDT: I don’t know, you’ve gotta ask Dougie (Sutphin, E Street roadie). MUSICIAN: When was the last time you did know? VAN ZANDT: In ’65, I bought a Telecaster, and that’s the last thing I remember. MUSICIAN: But lately, you’ve begun to use those Ovation 12 strings on stage…
VAN ZANDT. I went to [actor] Sal Viscuso’s house here in L.A., and he had homemade pasta, homemade bracciola, he had provolone and mozarrella flown in from New York. And the strangest thing happened: I went home and dreamed I was Leadbelly with an Italian accent.
MUSICIAN. So not paying attention to the technical details doesn’t have much effect on your sound?
VAN ZANDT. No. I’ll tell you, I’ve got a secret technique. I play everything at 10. That’s the great equalizer. You’d be surprised how similar everything sounds when you do that.
MUSICIAN eventually did track down Doug Sutphin, doing laps at Malibu Grand Prix. At a pit stop, Sutphin informed us that Van Zandt has two Stratocasters, a ’57 and a ’67, a Gibson Firebird (a spare which he almost never plays onstage, and two hollow- body 12 string Ovation guitars, with pickups. One of the Ovations and one of the Strats is capo’d. Van Zandt has a Mesa Boogie amp with Electro-Voice speakers, two Roland Jazz Choirs (120) amps, and a 100-watt Hi Watt brain and cabinet, plus an MXR distortion unit. And yes, he does play it all at 10.
The Big Man plays Selver Mark Vl tenors (a whole bunch of ’em) and altos, Yamaha baris and sopranos, with La-Voz reeds and Berg Larson mouthpieces. He uses a variety of Latin percussion (claves, tambourines, cowbell, etc.) and maracas by the Argentinian Hernandez company. His horns are miked with a device invented by Clemons and Bruce Jackson.
Bittan, who’s almost as well known for his session playing (with Meat Loaf, Dire Straits and others) as for his work with the E Street crew, uses a Yamaha C-7 grand piano as his basic instrument. He also plays a Yamaha CS80 synthesizer on a couple of numbers. The piano is fitted with a modified Helpinstill pickup. “The most important
thing,” the Professor says, “is ten fingers an~ fast hands.”
Danny Federici is surrounded by banks of equipment onstage, which is unfortunate, since it tends to obscure some of the fanciest footwork in human history. While dancing, Federici plays a Hammond B-3 organ (with a spare backstage—one of them was cut down by John Stilwell), two Farfisa combo compacts, and an Acetone (Top 5 model), used exclusively for “Wreck on the Highway.” The sound is channelled through two customized Leslies, with 12 2″ speakers, Gauss HF 4000 horn drivers and IF 15″ speakers, and speed relays for both. Federici’s amp rack, designed by Sound Specialties of Philadelphia, holds a Marantz 510 MR (600 watts) for the low end, a Phase Linear 400 for the horns, a Urei 521 cross-over system, a Bi-Amp Model 270graphic equalizer, and a Roland RU100 reverb unit.
Danny also plays a keyboard operated glockenspiel, which is, he thinks, one of only two or three in the world. (When the E Streeters toured England and Scandinavia in ’75, they managed to find one to complement his pair.~ That runs through a standard Leslie 122 mounted in an Anvil case with an acoustic chamber and permanent mikes for off-stage miking.
Federici’s organ modifications (B3 cutdown, speed switches and relays) were done by John Stilwell, of Ithaca, N.Y., and Springsteen sound man Bruce Jackson.
The Mighty Max, as he’s introduced nightly, brought to his drum list as highly developed a sense of detail a-, he brings to his playing. He uses a 24″ x 14″ Ludwig 6- ply bass, with an Emperor head and 14 coats of white varnish; it’s stuffed with two old down pillows and miked with a Beyer 88.
Weinberg’s toms are also Ludwigs; he uses both a 10″ x 14″ and a 16″ x 16″. The rack tom has Countryman contact mikes taped to the inside shell and a Sennheiser 421 mike for the top head. The floor tom is miked with just the 421. The toms are slightly muffled with Green Bay paper towels—Weinberg insists on that brand.
His stage snare is a 61/2″ x 14″ Pearl Snare, with a Diplomat snare head, and a Durotone batter head, mike~ inside with a Countryman, outside with a Shure SM81 and another Sennheiser 421. (For recording, he prefers a black 5’/2″ X 14″ snare.)
Weinberg plays with Pro Mack 5B sticks (no varnish), uses a Cameo Chain pedal (squared off), a Pearl Hi Hat Stand and Pearl hardware. A custom welded roll bar holds his three Zildjian cymbals (18″ crash, 21″ ride and 20″ medium thin crash), mikes (AKG451 EB CK-1 Cart. and 3 Countrymen) and snare—this eliminates mike and cymbal stands.
“I’ve got four drums, ” says Weinberg. “Anything more is redundant. Besides, I tend to trip over things.”
“I use a Music Man bass, with four strings (two of which I seldom use)—they’re D’Addario halfrounds. The only modification is a can of black lacquer. I’ve got a Countryman direct box, which is what everybody hears. Plus my own special Funky setup, which I’ve thought about long and hard for two years. It includes a solid state amplifier, Acoustic 320, with an equalizer that I never use, and four Music Man bass cabinets with 15″ Lansings, which I never hear. The rest is up to God and Bruce Jackson.”