After being told that New Times had obtained an exclusive advance copy of Bruce Springsteen's forthcoming album, publicists for the musician arranged a brief interview. Questions were faxed to his record label (Sony), which forwarded the queries to his personal publicist, who relayed them to Springsteen. The Boss agreed to speak by phone for five minutes, and this is what he had to say:
The new album addresses your divorce from Julianne Phillips and subsequent marriage to Patti Scialfa. Is that fair to say?
Well, man, that's true for sure. Every person, no matter what, goes through things in life that, you know, that aren't as fun as working on an old Chevy and making it run. [Laughs.] There are unkind times. And you have to search yourself, search your world, look deep in your own heart, really.
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It's taken five years for this album to come out. Why so long?
We were trying to get it right, man. We threw away a lot of stuff that we'd had down, some rockabilly and even some reggae, which is a type of music I love. At one point we thought about scrapping the whole thing, but Roy Bittan talked me out of it. Also, it was difficult to get some of the people who play on it together in the studio, you know? I wasn't gonna pass up the opportunity to work with the Memphis Horns and Gary Bonds and some of these cats. John Prine, I was on his latest album, you know, so he had to come in. We just stuck it out until all the pieces fell into place. I wanted to have fun with this. I wanted this to have a looser feel to it. So we took the time with it.
There's a strong Stax/soul/R&B flavor. What influences you these days?
When you listen to some of those old records, they take you over. I mean, I remember hearing Wilson Pickett, man, and being amazed by how strong he was. I could imagine what he was like, not just the song. That's what I wanted to do on this record.
In some ways you've reconciled certain things, but you also seem to have some battles left to fight. One battle might have to do with the way critics treat your music, which should, after all, speak for itself, right?
Man, I been through this a hundred times before. I know y'all are gonna write all kinds of different things about this album, just like my other albums. Some of it is true, I guess, and some of it is lies. I shouldn't say lies, maybe, but you know, a lot of it is, total bullshit is what it is. Sometimes it seems like they make stuff up to hear themselves talk and haven't even listened to the record, you know? One thing I learned a long time ago is that in this gig you learn to live with the bullshit.