The invaluable advice Bruce Springsteen once gave Arcade Fire
There are very few things that Bruce Springsteen hasn’t witnessed since he released his seminal debut album, Born To Run, back in 1975. From that very moment, The Boss went from underrated to overrated. The public, who first labelled Springsteen a saviour sent from the sky, then spat him out again before finally being treated with the respect that he duly deserves.
There is probably no better-placed artist in the field of offering advice than Springsteen because of his first-hand experience of being both the flavour of the month, in contrast, somebody that the industry attempted to flush down the toilet. The Boss remains an honest songwriter and a visceral storyteller to boot. He has always stayed true to himself throughout his career, which was both the making of his career and his downfall. He was just a kid from New Jersey, which meant Springsteen was uber relatable when he first exploded onto the scene. But once success came, public perception unsurprisingly shifted.
Springsteen was accused of selling-out in the early 1990s after moving to Los Angeles and working with session musicians. In 1992, he released two albums simultaneously in Human Touch and Lucky Town, projects which were both met with almost universal disdain from his loyal fanbase who didn’t recognise the man presenting them with these two joyous records.
A few years later, once his stock had returned to being sky high, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. In his speech, Springsteen jokingly thanked his poor relationship with his father for getting him out of this period, stating: “I’ve gotta thank him because—what would I conceivably have written about without him? I mean, you can imagine that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I would have written just happy songs—and I tried it in the early ’90s and it didn’t work; the public didn’t like it.”
Similarly, Canadian band Arcade Fire found themselves in a comparable predicament to The Boss in 2017, a time when they released their fifth album, Everything Now, which received wildly mixed reviews. The record sold well and topped the charts in numerous countries but received a slating from several critics. Some viewed the album as one of the best of the year, while others thought it was a load of drivel.
However, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler wasn’t dismayed by the criticism they received from some quarters and recalled to Consequence of Sound the words of wisdom that Springsteen once shared with him. “Bruce Springsteen actually told us once, ‘Just make sure that you can always play shows in Spain,'” Butler explained. “Because there will come a time when people hate you for like a decade, and you can just disappear and go play shows in Spain where people love you. And you’ll be in Spain, and you can eat delicious food. And then ten years after people will realise that you’re really great and you can go back to America.'”
Butler then understandingly added: “The crazy thing about music is that everyone has different taste,” wrote Butler. “Depends where you grew up, what your parents liked, how you feel rhythm etc. I’ve been on the other side and not loved the music my favourite bands made, but I just started listening to other music.”
Although, Springsteen’s words weren’t the most profound advice ever — the lingering meaning behind his wisdom is that everything will work out alright in the end. As Springsteen states, it’s not the end of the world if you fall out of vogue in the States when you can be headlining glorious festivals such as Primavera or Benicassim in the blazing Spanish sun washing down tapas with an ice-cold Mahou in your hand.