There are few rock stars who evoke as much emotional response as Bruce Springsteen. Sure, One Direction may have fans screaming across the globe but you suspect that in five, maybe ten years down the line kids will be asking “One who?”. The same cannot be said for Bruce Springsteen. Now in his 63rd year and having seen a career span across four decades he is still performing to massive sell-out crowds which span all age groups.
So what is it about Bruce Springsteen that makes people love him so much? Is it just the music? Springsteen & I goes some way to answering that question but in doing so, arguably, poses even more.
Taking a leaf from Kevin Macdonald’s Life In A Day, fans of Springsteen videoed themselves talking about what The Boss, as he is fondly known, means to them. The result is a rogue’s gallery of fans telling their own unique stories about their encounters with Springsteen, be it in person or simply through his music, and how he has touched their lives.
So we meet the girl who lost her virginity listening to a Springsteen song, if everything else went wrong that night at least she got the music right. The man whose entire life philosophy stems from Springsteen tracks, the guy driving in his car simply over-powered by what Bruce means to him to such a degree that he bursts into tears. Some of them are boarding on insane, others terrifying to such a degree you wonder if Mr. Springsteen may need to take out a restraining order. But, amid the crazies, there are stories that do genuinely touch the heart. Like the man who has no interest in Springsteen but has been dragged to so many concerts by his wife or the guy who got dumped just prior to a Springsteen concert and, having made a sign telling Bruce this, was hauled up on stage by The Boss to receive a big hug. “I’ve been dumped too”, muses Bruce, “Bet they’re regretting it now”.
But there is something that is never addressed, or at least stated, in Springsteen & I that rings truer than anything the fans are saying. With every new fan we meet and every story told no one refers to Springsteen as anything other than Bruce. And therein lies the magic of this musician. To his fans Bruce is one of them, whether they’ve met him in person or not, they know him, deeply. There is an intimacy outside of his music which connects this artist to his fans. Can you say that about a Bowie, Bono or Jagger? Or a One Direction, Beyonce or Jay-Z? Bruce, as is clear from Springsteen & I, is one of a kind. You couldn’t make this film about anyone else and you probably wouldn’t want to.
Springsteen & I will appeal in endless journeys down Thunder Road to his fans, to the uninitiated it may seem like Dancing In The Dark, a little like gushing for the sake of it. If nothing else it might turn a few more people onto Bruce. Heartfelt, often funny and, with endless unseen footage of The Boss himself, a film that, with any luck, was Born To Run.