While many musicians regard soundchecks as a necessary technical requirement ahead of playing shows, Bruce Springsteen said he regards them as “fun” – and that’s why he he’s happy to spend as long as two hours on them.
In a recent episode of the Questlove Supreme podcast, the Boss outlined his approach to live performances, saying he was always aware that someone in the audience was attending one of his shows for the first time.
“It started when I was a young kid,” he said. “More than being rich or more than being good looking, I wanted to make great music. I wanted to inspire people the way I felt inspired. And that’s my life’s work. I want to inspire you with my music the way people touched my heart and soul with their music.”
He added: “On the last tour we played 200 different songs. Once the tour gets rolling the show is regularly different on a night-to-night basis. We don’t just play three-and-a-half hours a night – we’re there in the afternoon. I’ve done two-hour soundchecks just to learn something new. It’s just because it’s fun, and it remains an honor to play for our audience. And that’s what I insist on the band on a nightly basis.”
Asserting his reputation was “one the line” at every performance, he continued: “I don’t care how long you’ve been doing it – you have the opportunity to impact somebody’s life tonight. It’s somebody’s first time every night and I want to play like it’s my first night.”
Springsteen just released covers album Only the Strong Survive, which came about because he felt he was “done writing for a while.” He explained: “I made a record with the E Street Band called Letter to You and it felt like I don’t have anything I want to write about at the moment. Also, I like the act of recording and being in the studio, making sounds, so [I thought] maybe I’ll record something that I haven’t written.”
He touched on the massive changes in the music industry over the years, lamenting the loss of small venues where an artist could develop their talents. “These were the places where you played five hours a night… We learned our craft piece by piece, song by song. That’s different today; you have a kid in his bedroom; two months later he has the biggest hit in the United States on the radio – never played a gig in his life.”
Bruce Springsteen Albums Ranked
Because he spent so many of his formative years painstakingly crafting his albums, we don’t often think of Bruce Springsteen as a prolific artist. But he’s averaged an album nearly every other year throughout his career.