Given as we’re all searching for new means of entertainment during the closure of major music venues amid strict social distancing measures, it is time to dip back into the Far Out archives to remember when Bruce Springsteen was faced with the almost impossible task of naming his five favourite songs from his own extensive back catalogue.
Springsteen, who was appearing on the late show with Stephen Colbert in 2016, was challenged to run through a repertoire featuring 19 studio albums. In truth, it’s conceivable that The Boss changes his top-five on a daily basis but it’s still a fascinating insight into discovering which of his classics mean the most to him.
Colbert opens up the interview by asking the musician how The E Street Band cope when Springsteen decides a tracklisting which, on occasion, arrives on a whim as he decides to play something completely out of the blue: “First of all, the entire band are bar band veterans so they play 100s of nights before we’d ever stood out in front of an audience after we had a record deal so there’s a common well which we all draw from.”
Jovially adding: “I mean if we played ‘Wild Thing’, you’ll be fired from The E Street Band if you don’t know how to play that. There is a secret, there’s a little man under the stage and he has a teleprompter so if I decide we’re gonna play ‘Friday On My Mind’, we’re gonna play Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’—whatever we’re gonna play, within seconds he’ll have the lyrics up in front of you.”
Not one to shy away from the big questions, Colbert then asks him on the spot to name his top-five Bruce Springsteen songs: “That’s a tough one, I’d have to put ‘Born To Run’ up there,” he said, before adding after a moment of contemplation, “I guess for me ‘The Rising’ was a big song. We play ‘Thunder Road’ really regularly but ‘Nebraska’ that was a good ‘un.”
After shouts from the crowd urging him to choose ‘Cynthia’ for his final pick, Bruce comically says: “These folks are all planted,” before Colbert facetiously reminds him it’s his life that encourages him to stop dithering and awards ‘Racing In The Street’ the last spot on the list. With Springsteen playing it a bit safe with his list probably due to being asked on to the spot, the host then retorted: “Those are everybody’s top-five, by the way.”
‘The Rising’ is an interesting feature on the list, with it being the only somewhat left-field choice and it is also the most recent by some margin having featured on his 2002 album of the same name. However, the track is probably of the most significant importance to Springsteen, as it is about his reaction to the September 11th terror attack which devastated not just the East Coast of America but changed the world as we knew it. With Springsteen being from neighbouring New Jersey and these images lit a creative spark inside of him.
Instead of writing a hate-filled song wrenched in anger, Springsteen wrote this from a place of grief and inspired his first new material with The E Street Band since 1984, marking a new chapter in his career. The song would go on to deservedly win a Grammy for ‘Best Rock Song’ and allegedly came to Springsteen in the wake of the disastrous 2001 event when a fan told him ‘we need you now’ and we sure did.
Bruce Springsteen’s 5 favourite songs:
- ‘Born To Run’
- ‘The Rising’
- ‘Thunder Road’
- ‘Racing In The Street’
Below, see the interview with Springsteen and listen to a playlist of his favoured tracks.