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From Sufjan Stevens to Kanye West: Exploring Bruce Springsteen's handpicked playlist


Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bruce Springsteen has always got his ear to the ground attempting to discover new music. A few years ago, ‘The Boss’ shared his iTunes playlist, which signifies he’s not content with tirelessly reliving the music of his youth and is progressive in every sense.

“I go back and forth, but I’m always looking for something new that’s inspiring,” he opened up about his selections to Variety. “I’m so well versed in all my old standards — you can always find something new in them — but I’ve mined them pretty well over the years. There’s a lotta good songwriting and tons of good music being made”.

Many of the musicians he mentioned have cited Springsteen as an inspirational figure, such as Lana Del Rey. She said that ‘The Boss’ played an influential role in creating her breakthrough album, Born To Die.

During a radio broadcast last year, Springsteen admitted: “I am a Lana Del Rey fan. This is a singer and song that reminds me of the hot, humid, and sultry summer nights and the girls that went with them. Lana is simply one of the best songwriters in the country, as we speak. She just creates a world of her own and invites you in. So a big favourite of mine, the lovely Lana Del Rey.”

Another artist that Springsteen gave props to is The National after he was introduced to them by his son Evan. Although sonically they are worlds apart, Aaron Dessner from the group later spoke about the poignant advice that ‘The Boss’ gave him at a poignant point in their career as they started playing larger venues.

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“One of the bits of advice he gave us is that you’ve got to learn to play to the back row,” Dessner told Hot Press. “He told us – ‘You create a wave and then ride it. When I wrote Born To Run, I had a million fans, and when I wrote Born In The USA, I had 10 million’.”

One musician who has been compared to Springsteen constantly throughout his career is The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, who also appears on the playlist. Their love affair began when ‘The Boss’ headlined Glastonbury, he made a cameo during the band’s set on the John Peel Stage, and the music of his fellow Astbury Park native remains close to his heart.

Bruce even told Bono during an interview for the BBC that if he is known as ‘The Boss’ then Fallon is his ‘Assistant Manager’. In response, Fallon told The Scotsman: “Somebody told me it was there, I didn’t believe it was there. I saw it on Twitter and I thought whatever, that’s just people talking, and then I listened to it and I was like ‘Alright, when’s he gonna get a cold!’ I’ll be there, I will be playing that show. I would do that in a minute, that would be amazing”.

A surprising addition to the playlist is Kanye West, with Bruce highlighting Life Of Pablo and noting: “I thought that was an amazing creation, especially the arrangements”.

Meanwhile, others mentioned include Jakob Dylan, Antony and the Johnsons’, Frank Turner, Steve Earle, and Sufjan Stevens. See the complete list of artists mentioned by Springsteen below.

Bruce Springsteen’s handpicked playlist:

  • Steve Earle
  • Brian Fallon
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Iron & Wine
  • Thea Gilmore
  • Dry the River
  • Jakob Dylan
  • Ben Harper
  • Antony and the Johnsons
  • The National
  • Kanye West
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Frank Turner
  • Lucinda Williams
  • Rumer
  • Sam Amidon
  • Magnetic Fields