[Radio interview]

RAI, 1993-05, by:
R.P.: Honestly, I have to tell you, meeting you is for me like what for you it would have been meeting Elvis Presley. What would you have asked him if you had the chance to talk to him?

B.S.: I don't know, you know, I don't know... In 1976, I guess, end of '75, we went to Menphis and... and it was late at night, me and Steve Van Zandt, my guitarist, wanted to go out and get a bite to eat, and we found a taxi at about 3 a.m., and the driver said, "hey, there is a place to eat out past Elvis' house, you know." "Hey," we said, "you know where Elvis lives!" He said, "yeah, yeah," and we said, "take us out there." He took us to Graceland and I remember I saw a light on in the window, and I said "Steve, man, I gotta... I have to see if Elvis is home." I jumped over the wall, ran up to the front door and a guard came out of the woods and stopped me, and said, "What do you want?" I said, "Gee, is Elvis here?" "No, no," he said, "he's in Las Vegas." And I said, "You know, I'm Bruce Springsteen, I just had my picture on the cover of Time and Newsweek." I don't think he believed me, he looked at me like I was... you know... a little crazy. And he said, "No, no, you gotta leave," and he took me by the arm and he put me back outside.

I don't know what I... if he [Elvis] ever came out of that door, I don't know what I would have said.

R.P.: You are going to be in Rome for a few days. You know that people really love you in Italy. We love you like a brother, some love you like a father.

B.S.: You know, we came very late... I think the first time we came it was '85, which was late. You know, we toured Europe a little bit in '81 and people always said, "Gee, you have great fans in Italy, you know, you're very popular there." So, when we came to Milan, as I told you last night, I think we had what I think was one of the Top 5 shows of my career, one of the best shows we've ever done. I think the one we did there at that time is one I always remember, it always comes to mind. I don't know why, it was a certain sort of intensity, you know, a certain sort of passion that was unique to the Italian fans. I couldn't tell you what it is, all I know is that it's there when I get there, you know.

R.P.: Can you still look at your audiences and see yourself?

B.S.: First of all, you never lose any part of yourself, you know... anything you have ever been, or dreamed about is... always remains a part of you whether your life changes or not, wherever you go... The bottom line is, anywhere I wanna get on stage, I get on stage. For the same reason I got on stage in a little bar in New Jersey when I was, you know, eighteen years old. It was just the passion. I always used to say, "Gee, I do it for free, but don't tell anybody." I always say that the key to the relationship between a band and its audience is that you have to be able to walk out on stage and see yourself in the faces of the crowd, and they gotta be able to see some part of them in you. That seems to cement the relationship in some fashion, that's what rock'n'roll music is all about.

I guess the reason why people come to my shows is not so much to find out about me, but to find out about them. You know, it's like... it's sorta like you're a storyteller, you come up with a variety of stories that are part of your own experience, part of your own dreams, or your imagination, and something that hopefully bonds everyone that comes to see you together.

I always said that the world has become such a brutal place, and I think that people go to art, they go to music and they go to films to get in touch with their own humanness and their own humanity. And I always thought that's why people came to my shows, and that's why I go on stage and play. That's a kind of a life raft, or a life boat, in the world out there, you know, and I think people spend so much time feeling apart from each other and feeling different and feeling isolated from their communities or society. Rock'n'roll holds up a promise of a certain type of community, it's an ideal, it may never be realizable except for those few hours in a show. But it's an important ideal, and it's important that that ideal continues to be manifested so people can sorta say, "hey, if this is possible here maybe I can stay more connected when I go home with my lover or my wife." I know, it's a long answer to a short question but I think that's a lot of what happens at night at the show.

R.P.: Sorry for this question, but people really want to know: Did you end the E Street Band, which was like a family, because you wanted to build a real family on your own?

B.S.: Yeah, that's an interesting question... I think that when you're young and you're kinda footloose you do create an extended family out of... when you don't have a family... My parents moved away to California when I was 19 and I stayed in New Jersey, so I was... we were all kids when we started, none of us was really connected to our folks, and so we all sort of bonded together and we created sort of an extended family in some fashion, you know, and that changes. The love doesn't change, but the nature of some of the relationships changes when you begin to construct your own real family, you know. I believe it has to end as it should, and you realize, "this is my family and these are my friends and who I work with and, and they're both people I love" and... but it does change. I think growing up changes those things. I still got a lotta love for the band, we talk pretty often and I see the guys quite a bit. It's been a good thing.

R.P.: Do you think there are songs that you really can't play without the E Street Band?

B.S.: I don't know, you know... I played a lot of songs that I didn't expect to be playing on this tour, just because I got out there and it started to feel right. It depends on what you did... if you rearrange some things, if you change different parts of things, I played all kinds of songs from my records over the course of the tour and so... I think there are certain things you wouldn't play in a particular arrangement that was really specific to the band, and I think that I've got the show sort of... that I probably tip toe around a lot of that music and try to come up with the body of the show that would feel that it was this band's property in some sense.

That was important to me, I think this is a great band, I've had a great time with the people that I've been out with and... and I can't say enough about them, but they're terrific. So I've been trying to shape the show to that particular personality as I did with the other band.

R.P.: Everybody knows you as an extraordinary performer: where do you find all the strength you need on stage? Sometimes you're out there for four hours...

B.B.: We probably ended up playing about three, you know [laughs], but we have played four, maybe longer sometimes. All I can say is that getting on stage is really important to me. When I walk out there is a moment of tremendous identity confirmation, it's a moment when I'm sort of an on-going process of finding out about who I am, who's my audience, what are we saying to each other, or what do we have to say to each other, what do I have to say at this point in my career. There's a lot of important issues that... not to mention just the pride and the feeling that you wanna work hard for the people that come to your shows and hopefully give them something that was more than their money's worth... All those things coming to play when you go on stage and I think it just keeps you burning long through the night.

R.P.: Do you think that the dream you've been following your whole life has finally come true?

B.S.: I don't know, I'm not even sure what that was, you know... And I think that all those things [the dreams] ultimately appear to me ephemeral and ambiguous, and I've realized a lot of things that I dreamed about one time, and probably in that sense I've been phenomenally blessed and lucky, you know.

I also worked really hard and a lot of things I always wanted to do, like make my living as a musician, came true. That's a big dream, just to be able to do that, I would have felt that I was ahead of the game, you know. I've met a lot of nice people, I have a great family and these are things that I think I thought I might never get to. In that sense, "yeah," but there's something else out there, I don't even know what it is. Whatever it is, is what makes you walk out on stage at night and what makes you... it's just, it's mysterious. It's just something powerful that remains out there, compelling you to kinda move on.

R.P.: Last question: what about the destiny of all your wonderful outtakes, all those great songs that are lost somewhere?

B.S.: At some point I hope that we would be able to do a collection of the best of the outtakes, along with a variety of other things. I'm sure we will, probably sometime in the next five years, or three... You know, it's something we'll end up doing. Yeah, a set of records that contains some of the best of the outtakes, so maybe I'll have the chance to get some of that stuff out.
[Somebody opens the door and calls Bruce for the soundcheck.]
But before I stop, I would like to thank all my Italian fans because they've been incredibly passionate in their support. I've been on the road a long time, I've been working at this my whole life and that support, and that love and affection means a tremendous amount to me, and I'd like to say, "I love you all, thank you very much. See you in Italy!"