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The Rediff Interview
I have fond memories of India: Springsteen
Soumik Sen |
May 31, 2005
Bruce Springsteen's 19th studio album Devils and Dust is an antiwar-themed solo album. And yet another chapter in what has become a lifetime of writing and singing about an interpretation of the American experience that has sometimes been grossly misunderstood and manipulated.
The Boss lent his name to the Kerry campaign last year resulting in heavy criticism from the conservatives. But that hasn't dampened his voice of anguish.
In the sadder chartbusting Devils and Dust, the liberal agony is audible amidst the pedal steel guitar, harmonica and violin arrangements. And while it has the same sparse soul of his earliest gothic take on the American Dream -- Nebraska -- it is a far more musically diverse product that takes the most obvious stand on US President George W Bush's policies.
The 12 songs here, describing various characters at inflection points in their lives, in their literary merit are worthy of a short story. While there's no E Street brand of ear candy, this is clearly Springsteen's most accomplished introspective work in the last 10 years.
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Let's hear what he has to say about it.
When you celebrate the super success of such a dark album, do you attribute it to the musical connectivity of your fan base, or to the issues you want to address?
It's a mix of both, I hope. Playing alone creates a sort of drama and intimacy for the audience. They know it's just them and just you. It's not a dark album all the way... there is hope for a few of the characters I write about.
It's quite evident the album stems from your concern and anguish at what is happening to our world today. Is there a way out?
The idea of Devils and Dust is sort of fighting that thing that's eating away at you, and it's often this very amorphous confusing battle you know. It's dusty, hard to see, hard to find your way through battle, and I think that has a lot to do with a lot of the characters on a lot of my records, and on this one particularly. The songs open up to a lot of other interpretations.
The acoustic bare sound has always been a pleasure to hear, but one does not see it too often. Are the reasons commercial?
The acoustic sound and the stadium rock sound are two sides to my musical persona. I like both equally. I wrote most of the tracks on Devils and Dust during the tour to promote The Ghost of Tom Joad. It was meant to be released earlier, but then 9/11 happened. I noticed that a number of the victims' obituaries had mentioned that they were fans. It was my way of reaching up to the families of my fallen fans.
Most of the songs are full of hope and optimism, meant to be played in stadiums.
When can we expect you to revisit India, which you rocked a few years ago? Any plans of a concert here?
We have not planned on Asia for this promotional tour. But, I would love to visit India with the E Street Band. I have fond memories of India.
What are the stories that the listener gets to hear in Devils and Dust?
There are real stories with believable characters -- stories of a confused soldier in the battlefront, a determined father, a love song called Reno, a boxer and a dead lover trying to cross a river into the US -- believable stories.
Any messages to politically unconscious fans across the world?
It is good to have a stand in these issues. I have always alienated my political activism from my music. I married both recently for the presidential campaign of John Kerry. I believe that our kids deserve a safer place to grow up in.
What are your plans for future projects?
I imagine that I will do something soon with the E Street Band.
Looking back at the 19-odd albums that comprise your career, what would be the most pleasurable period of your work?
I have never evaluated my career in those terms. There's a lot of music to be made, and a lot of stories to be told.
Grammies, adulation -- what more is there left to achieve?
If only my kids thought I was cool!
Photographs: Getty Images