Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 23, 2009
POP CULTURE: "The Most Important Instrument"
I don't read interviews with Bruce Springsteen all that much anymore - although Bruce's music is still mostly only vaguely political, as I discussed at some length back in 2002, in recent years he's gotten sufficiently actively partisan that I prefer to just listen to the music and tune out the politics. But this interview has some telling (if in a few places overly grandiose) musings on the thing that - other than the music itself - I've always loved and admired about the Boss, and that's the fact that the man truly gives a damn about connecting with his audience, and works at it, which is why he remains the best live showman in the business:
The idea of a show was delegitamised [in the late 60s] through that bohemian notion of selling out, which I always felt was somewhat misguided. Because once you're onstage, you're in a show, my friend, whatever you're doing. There's certain kinds of people I wouldn't want to see put on my show, because it's not who they are. But the idea - and it remains a good one, and a bridge to your audience - was putting on a show with the intent of reaching a deeper level of communication and getting at a deeper truth.
An excited audience is an exciting audience. The audience is a very decisive factor in our show. It is a place of communion, that's the point. You are in concert, truly, with the audience - they're the other instrument you're playing. That's something I've learned and studied since I was very young from the very first band I was in, The Castilles. It's a survival mechanism. We played to all kinds of audiences - supermarket openings, drive-ins, to all black audiences, to all rocker audiences ... And we knew how to survive in each situation by reading that audience and, within the realm of what you wanted to do, reaching them. So I go out at night, I know everything I can know about the instruments I have onstage. I go out every night cold about the most important instrument - the audience. It makes it interesting.