Have you ever wanted to get into The Boss but just don't know where to start?
As the legendary Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band prepare to head back on tour, we take a look at the best inroads to take if you want to get more familiar with one of the most popular musical artists of all time.
Of course the best place to start with any artist is with the music. Springsteen’s first studio album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Since then the Boss has gone on to release another 20 studio albums, 23 live albums and 8 complications. Let’s not even get into EPs and Boxsets…
It’s an intimidating list, and hard to know where to jump in. While it would be easy to start with a Greatest Hits (and there is nothing wrong with that), Springsteen albums are a journey that should be enjoyed as a whole.
If you do like the hits, why not start with Born In The U.S.A.? Probably the most commercially well-known of the Springsteen albums, it’s an easy gateway listen as it features hits such as ‘Glory Days’, ‘Dancing In The Dark’ and of course, ‘Born In The U.S.A.’.
A favourite for many fans is also the 1978 masterpiece, Darkness On The Edge Of Town. You’ll still find many family tracks such as ‘Badlands’ and ‘The Promised Land’, but the album also features classics new fans may not be aware of.
Want something a bit less commercial? Give Nebraska a go. Yes, we can hear super fans shouting that Nebraska is very commercial and we should be recommending Tracks instead (which we do) but remember this is an introduction to Bruce Springsteen. Tracks is something to work up to.
Maybe you were a fan in the 70s and 80s but drifted away? It’s OK, it can happen. There’re not many artists who are still producing excellent material nearly half a century later, but thankfully that’s not the case with Bruce Springsteen. 2020’s Letter To You is an excellent album to revisit the Boss. An album about aging, loss and hope, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions over the course of 58 minutes.
The Live Shows
If you’ve ever heard the name “Bruce Springsteen” then one of the first things you’ll think of is marathon live shows. Known for his three hour (sometimes even more), live sets, the septuagenarian would put many performers half his age to shame with his energetic gigs.
Now, of course, nothing is going to even come close to the euphoric experience that is seeing The Boss live but luckily for us, some of his greatest live shows through the years have been recorded for us to enjoy whenever we like, such as Live At The Hammersmith Apollo, London ’75. The performance marked the first European gig for the E Street Band in promotion of Born To Run.
Live In Barcelona captures a night in the middle of The Rising Tour in October 2002. A tour full of emotions, The Rising album was the first with The E Street Band in almost two decades and a reflection on the aftermath of 9/11. Widely considered one of the best tours of Springsteen’s career.
Of course, we also have to mention Live In Dublin. Filmed across three nights in The Point Theatre, during the Bruce Springsteen With The Seeger Sessions Band Tour in November 2006, the album/DVD features folk big band reworkings of some of Springsteen’s back catalogue.
Yes, technically Springsteen On Broadway could also fit into Live Shows, but like any other Broadway show it’s scripted, remaining much the same each night, so we felt it fit in here better. Bruce, a guitar, a piano and the stories behind the songs. Absolute magic.
Blinded By The Light follows Javeed, a British-Pakistani Muslim teenager in 1980s Luton who’s life is changed when he discovers the music of Springsteen. The heart warming comedy-drama is based on the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his memoir Greetings From Bury Park: Race, Religion And Rock N’ Roll.
Bruce means a lot to a lot of people, Springsteen & I is their story. The film interviews fans from across the world explain what exactly it is about this man from New Jersey that evokes such passion in them.
Part documentary, part live album, Western Stars, showcases live performances with an orchestra of tracks from the album of the same name filmed in a 100 year old barn on Springsteen’s ranch, in front of some of his closest friends. We’re not jealous of them at all.
There are countless unofficial biographies out there, but if you’re going to read any book about the life of Springsteen it has to be the official autobiography, Born To Run. To really appreciate the lyricism of the writing we recommend the audiobook, narrated by Bruce himself.
For a different take on the career of Springsteen, Lorraine Mangione and Donna Luff’s Mary Climbs In: The Journeys Of Bruce Springsteen’s Women Fans follows the stories of female fans. In the book women talk about their experiences and connection to the music of the Boss and how this has shaped their lives.
For many, Clarence Clemons was the heart and soul of the E Street Band, his autobiography Big Man features some tales as tall as the man himself and is a window into his brotherly relationship with Bruce and The E Street Band.
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band come to Belfast, Kilkenny, Cork and Dublin for dates in May 2024. Tickets are on sale Monday 6 November at 8am HERE.