Bruce Springsteen sat down for a long chat with AARP: The Magazine in advance of his upcoming album, Letter To You, set for release on October 23rd. The new collection is his first to feature the E Street Band since 2014 and marks his first new rock-based music of the new decade.
Springsteen revealed he was unsure whether the type of songs he needed for the E Street Band would find their way to him: “I hadn't written rock music for the E Street Band in about seven years. I was thinking, 'Well, maybe I don't have any more rock music in me.' You never really know. It's part of the anxiety and mystery of the job that I do — which is a magic trick, because you take something out of the air that isn't there. There is no existence of it whatsoever, and you make it physical — literally. You can go for long periods without picking up anything significant. Or you'll just pick up different things.”
Springsteen went on to explain what it's like when the muse comes: “It's like you're in a mine and one vein has gone dry, so you tap into another. A pop vein or a folk vein, and so you start working there, and you discover a whole new rich vein of gold that you can draw from. It's not rock n' roll; it's just something else. But because I am primarily a rock n' roll musician when I'm operating sort of at my peak — in other words, in front of my largest audience with my favorite band — I like to every once in a while, come up with some rock songs.”
When asked if he thinks long and hard about life and mortality, Springsteen explained, “Yeah, well, I'm 70, so it's what you write about. These things — the mysteries of life — become more interesting. Life goes by quickly but slowly. I heard something of mine from 1975 on a record the other day, and I said, 'That was about seven or eight lives ago. It was a full and entire life of its own.' And I lived that one, and it was a great one, and now I'm living another one.”
He went on to say, “I lived a life where we raised our children. That life is gone now. Now Patti and I are living another life. So, you live a lot of lives over the course of your one life. And (the song on the new album) 'One Minute You're Here' uses metaphors for that experience. Whether it's the train whooshing by you in an instant or the end of a summer. . . whether it's a carnival that comes through town for a week and then it's gone. Whether it's the sound of your feet on a gravel road and you look up and the stars are there, and then they've disappeared. About the swiftness of death, I suppose, but also the richness of living.”
Bruce Springsteen explained that although it's hardly the only place where he comes up with new songs, his New Jersey house has a specific “writing room”: “I have a room, called — of course — 'The Writing Room' — (laughs). And, I go in there, but anybody can come in at any time, so it's not off, it's not off, off (laughs) base for anybody. But I do a lot of writing when I'm on the road.”