It is no stretch of the imagination to call Bruce Springsteen an American icon.
I can think of few other artists who enjoy such universal appeal because of the music they made and continue to make while, at the same time, enjoying such widespread respect from both their peers and the public.
The mere mention of Springsteen’s name is enough to trigger my inner jukebox, unleashing classic track after classic track, from “Thunder Road” and “Dancing In The Dark” to “Born To Run," “Hungry Heart," “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and so many more.
Those songs would have been seared into my memory even if I had not had the opportunity to see him play a fabulous three-hour live show with the E Street Band several years ago.
Having followed Springsteen since ’72, I thought I knew a lot about the man and his music.
But, I learned so much more this week when I had the opportunity, thanks to Netflix, to see “Springsteen On Broadway”, which completed its 14-month run at the Walter Kerr Theatre in mid-December after 236 performances.
If you like Springsteen, you really have to see this special.
But, if you don’t have Netflix and don’t know anyone who’ll let you park yourself in their living room for a couple of hours to watch it you can still enjoy this remarkable performance on record.
Just two weeks before Christmas, Columbia Records released the “Springsteen On Broadway” soundtrack.
The complete audio portion of the show is there, both the songs and the stories that go with them, some 30 tracks in all.
The stripped-down solo acoustic performances on “Springsteen On Broadway” and the introductions that precede each song will give you a whole new appreciation of the body of work Springsteen has produced and of the man himself, his values and his vision of what America should be.
He holds nothing back here as he recounts his journey from the streets of Freehold, New Jersey to the top of the heap and a career that now spans more than four decades.
The memories he shares of his childhood, of his relationship with his mother and his father, of the early years of his career, the life lessons he’s learned along the way and the manner in which all those things have impacted him make for a fascinating listen.
And because it’s just Springsteen, a guitar and a piano — with the exception of a brief appearance by his wife Patricia Scialfa — nothing comes between you and him.
It’s like The Boss is doing a live show in your living room.
And what a show.
He opens with an introduction to “Growin' Up” and closes some two hours later with “Born To Run”. In between there are gems like “Thunder Road”, “Born In the U.S.A.”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”, “The Rising”, “The Wish”, “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.
Based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography “Born to Run”, “Springsteen on Broadway” is an extraordinary record. I only wish I had had the opportunity to sit in that theatre and watch it all unfold.
But, with this record, I’ve got the next best thing.
(Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
- The “Springsteen On Broadway” soundtrack was mixed by the legendary Bob Clearmountain and mastered by the equally acclaimed Bob Ludwig.
- It is currently available in multiple formats, from a double CD to a four-LP vinyl package.
- It is also available as a digital download.
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at email@example.com.