Bruce Springsteen is a modern-day poet who has catapulted personal stories made on the streets of New Jersey into the hearts of millions. Springsteen has been vocal about the moments n his life that would open his eyes to the world, and none more monumental than discovering Bob Dylan.
The Boss has never attempted to hide his love of Dylan, and he usually expresses his adoration the best way he knows how — through the art of covers. Over the years he has taken on plenty from Dylan’s vast repertoire, and Bruce has even seen the favour returned when ‘Dancing In The Dark’ got given the freewheeling troubadour treatment in 1990.
When Dylan shot to fame in the early 1960s, Springsteen was a couple of hours away from Greenwich Village. His surroundings in the industrial Astbury Park couldn’t have been any different from the artistic utopia that existed in the Manhattan neighbourhood.
Springsteen was only a teenager when he first heard Dylan, and his music immediately spoke to him in a way that no artist had before. There was something mystical about this bohemian singer-songwriter that enchanted Bruce straight away.
During the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Springsteen was given the ultimate honour and inducted his icon in Cleveland. During his speech, he delved deep into his love of Dylan and revealed the moment that the love affair started. “The first time that I heard Bob Dylan I was in the car with my mother, and we were listening to, I think, maybe WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind, from ‘Like a Rolling Stone,'” Springsteen revealed.
“And my mother, who was – she was no stiff with rock and roll, she liked the music, she listened – she sat there for a minute, she looked at me, and she said, ‘That guy can’t sing.’ But I knew she was wrong. I sat there, I didn’t say nothin’, but I knew that I was listening to the toughest voice that I had ever heard.
“It was lean, and it sounded somehow simultaneously young and adult, and I ran out and I bought the single. And I came home, I ran home, and I put it on my 45, and they must have made a mistake at the factory, because a Lenny Welch song came on.”
The Boss then hilariously recounted how he sprinted straight back to the shop and returned it for Highway 61 Revisited. It was love at first sight for Springsteen, and that record was all he played for weeks. Everything about Dylan infatuated him, sparking a deep obsession that still exists today.
“I looked at the cover, with Bob, with that satin blue jacket and the Triumph Motorcycle shirt,” Springsteen added. “And when I was a kid, Bob’s voice somehow – it thrilled and scared me. It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does. But it reached down and touched what little worldliness I think a 15-year-old kid, in high school, in New Jersey had in him at the time.”
Dylan’s grandeur boils down to the universal appeal of his songwriting. No matter who you are, your creed or colour, your occupation, or your age, there’s something for everyone in his work.
Springsteen’s speech shows that he remains a music lover before an artist. If you have five minutes to kill, then sit back and enjoy The Boss eulogising about the man who showed him there was more to life than Astbury Park.