There is always one band that comes along and catches you at just the right time with a wallop that changes the way you see things. For an entire generation in the sixties, that band was The Beatles, and they have continued their reign of benevolent wallops to this day.
Bruce Springsteen was yet another youngster caught up in their barnstorm of culture-changing brilliance back in the early sixties when their Promethean brand of pop music seemed to be grabbing the world by the lapels at every possible occasion.
One fellow that it shook it up was a 15-year-old Springsteen, who can even recall when he heard them for the very first time. “I saw Elvis on TV and when I first saw Elvis, I was 9 but I was a little young, tried to play the guitar but it didn’t work out, I put it away,” Springsteen recalled to Rolling Stone Magazine. “The keeper was in 1964, ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ on South Street with my mother driving.
“I immediately demanded that she let me out, I ran to the bowling alley, ran down a long neon-lit aisle, down the alley into the bowling alley. Ran to the phone booth, got in the phone booth and immediately called my girl and asked ‘Have you heard this band called The Beatles?’ After that, it was nothing but rock ‘n’ roll and guitars.”
He then later told BBC’s Desert Island Discs that the track ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ is not only his favourite Beatles song but one of his top eight favourite singles of all time.
“This was another song that just changed the course of my life,” Springsteen declared when speaking to the famed show, “The harmonies were very unusual. It was a very raucous sounding record when it came out on the radio in 1964, and once again I went for another shot at the guitar and this time, I kept playing it and it was really this song that inspired me to play rock ‘n’ roll music.”
Springsteen, like thousands of other whippersnappers, were stirred up the simple power of The Beatles’ music. There was nobody left untouched by their new way of doing things and seemingly Springsteen was no different, “I got a small band together and started doing small gigs around town. It was a very beautiful and life-changing record.”
The inspiration of the record would eventually lead Springsteen on a path to releasing his debut record in 1973 and eventually getting the chance to take to the stage with Paul McCartney to perform a splendid rendition of ‘Twist and Shout’ before the adoring masses gathered in London’s Hyde Park back in 2012.
‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ might have been the song that started his journey, but he is also keen to assert that the song still retains that same visceral beauty to this day. As The Boss once said, “If you listen to the great Beatle records, the earliest ones where the lyrics are incredibly simple. Why are they still beautiful? Well, they’re beautifully sung, beautifully played, and the mathematics in them is elegant. They retain their elegance.”
Listen to The Boss’ favourite Beatles song below, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’.