Bruce's show spans career

New York Daily News, 2005-04-05, by: Richard Huff
Bruce Springsteen said last night that explaining the process of writing songs was a lot like discussing sex.
"It's better when demonstrated," he said.

And that's exactly what he did before an intimate crowd of 350, mostly die-hard fans, who filled the new Two River Theater for a taping of VH1's show "Storytellers," which will air April 23.

Springsteen sang and talked his way through songs spanning his career from "Blinded by the Light" off his first album to two new songs on his soon-to-be released collection "Devils & Dust."

Springsteen talked about his influences, his loves and his frequent references to religion.

"You can't write without pulling this stuff out of you," he said at one point.

Yet noting that, in his latest CD, which hits stores April 26 - and in past work - he was trying to create characters and let the audience walk in someone else's shoes.

The title song of "Devils & Dust," he said, was written at the point when the U.S. went into Iraq.

"I got the power of life and death, but I don't know who to trust," he said, reciting the lyrics.

"The unspoken subtext of the lyrics rest on a regular guy caught in the cross hairs," he explained.

At the end of his last tour, Springsteen spoke openly about his concerns about the war in Iraq and several times lashed out at President Bush. And in November, he campaigned for Sen. John Kerry.

"How much of this was I thinking about when I wrote it?" Springsteen said after extensively explaining the "Devils & Dust" words. "None of it. How much of it was I feeling? All of it."

"Devils & Dust" he said, had points where "the personal and political were crashing together again."

The New Jersey native stood on stage with just a guitar, harmonica, piano and roughly 50 people who had won tickets to the event. He was joined by his wife, Patti Scialfa, once, on "Brilliant Disquise."

Over two hours, he sang eight songs, some twice because of either production difficulties or, simply, he wasn't comfortable with the first take. Among the songs were "Nebraska," "The Rising," "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" and "Thunder Road."

He also performed "Jesus Was an Only Son," a new song on "Devils & Dust" built around Jesus and his relationship with his mother, Mary, as his death neared.

Springsteen said he wanted to write about the relationship between a parent and a child, and the desire to protect one's young.

"I was shocked when I first felt it so deep inside myself," he said of being a father.

Throughout the night, Springsteen frequently joked about his own image, laughed and swore when he made a mistake.

"Oh, wait a minute," he said, stopping midsong to reach for his harmonica. "I f----d up, I knew it was there for a reason. It's good to be amongst friends."

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2005-04-04 Two River Theater, Red Bank, NJ