Friday, October 19, 2007

And the plot thickens... Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen made an interesting comment on 60 Minutes last week when asked how his band took it when he disbanded them and went solo artist in the middle of his career. Springsteen remarked:
"And I think what happens is sometimes you got to break your own narrative."

"We all have stories we're living and telling ourselves," he says, laughing. "And there's a time when that narrative has to be broken because you've run out of freedom in it. You've run out of places to go."

He explained that he could see where he was headed but knew that growth included disrupting the expectations and going into new territory. He eventually reunited with the E Street Band (they are touring right now for his new CD), but the break enabled band members to also explore avenues they may not have (such as Steven Van Zandt in "The Sopranos" etc.).

The idea of "breaking my narrative" deliberately has been playing around the edges of my thought life all week. Ruts can be comfortable but they can also be confining. And while a change of pace is sometimes helpful in re-energizing your experience of daily life, it struck me that a narrative break raises the stakes. It's a deliberate exile of self from the comfort zone, perhaps even relationships and beliefs.

He continued:
"I was probably one of the smartest kids in my class at the time. Except you would've never known it," Springsteen says, laughing. "You would've never known it. Because where my intelligence lay was not, wasn't able to be tapped within that particular system. And I didn't know how to do it myself until music came along and opened me up not just to the world of music but to the world period, you know, to the events of the day. To the connection between culture and society and those were things that riveted me, engaged me in life," Springsteen says. "Gave me a sense of purpose. What I wanted to do. Who I wanted to be. The way that I wanted to do it. What I thought I could accomplish through singing songs."

"It's not just the singing. It's the writing, isn't it, for you?" Pelley asks.

"Of course. Every good writer or filmmaker has something eating at them, right? That they can't quite get off their back . And so your job is to make your audience care about your obsessions," Springsteen says.
I got to thinking about the connection to a "narrative break" and "obsessions" and those things that "eat" at writers.

What a great way to see the dramatic moves we make in life. And how curious that our brilliance is sometimes confined by the system designed to free it.


Anonymous said...

Springsteen delivers on the promise.
Honesty, Integrity and a shitload of fun in concert.

mariam said...

The closest his tour gets to me is Oakland. (sigh) I've been a long Springsteen fan. I like what he said about us creating our own stories - the narrative of our life. Other people become characters in our novel, in a sense, and we, of course become a character in theirs. So it is difficult when we decide to take a break in the narrative, or start a new one - for the other people whose narratives are intertwined with ours.

Dalissa 365 said...

Wow. Those were some really great thoughts.

Dave said...

Springsteen has become much more interesting to me since he stopped being the big-time rock star he became during the "Born in the USA" era (and for several years following that smash hit album.) I'll take everything from "The Ghost of Tom Joad" to today than what came before it, if I had to make a one-or-the-other decision, even though his big hits came from the first half of his career.

I think his decision to get off the superstar track and make music that was more authentic and less oriented toward filling arenas may have cost him some revenues in the short term but strengthened and lengthened his ability to create new art. He's free from the burden of being an "entertainer" even though he still brings a lot of pleasure to the audience that has stuck with him as he's scaled back his ambitions (in commercial terms.)

Still haven't gotten ahold of his new CD yet - have you?!? :o)

Steve said...

Seems to me you are thinking about your own narratives, both present and past. As we chatted, some of those narratives are yucky and painful, and mixed up with Christian junk. Is this not the challenge of mid-life, to take our old narratives, make new ones, and leave a lasting legacy of love, of joy, of giving, and of laughter?

r. michael said...

Got the chance to meet Springsteen once in Stockholm. We were staying in the same hotel...anyway we chatted briefly and my impression was that this is a guy who doesn't buy all the hype about himself....just a regular guy who enjoys music...and also enjoys making it for others.

RE: the narrative bit, I like singer-songwriters that delve into the human story with a dose of inspiration...and perspiration. That is why I like him.

isaiah said...

Having seen Bruce at the height of his career I couldn't imagine him walking away, going solo- all the 'nutty' things he was going to do after "Born in The USA."

I think some "break their narrative" intentionally but, most often (if ever) it's done unconsciously and then later we realize, "Ah Ha!... that's what was happening!"

Takes a strong person to intentionally break their narrative and move in another direction.

I know of so many other musicians that desperatly need to break their narratives!!!!

Great post- Thanks!