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Bruce Springsteen names the key ingredient that makes a great artist


Bruce Springsteen’s longevity makes most artists green with envy. No matter the decade, Springsteen continues to find ways to remain an essential voice throughout his illustrious career, and he puts this down to one intrinsic attribute.

‘The Boss’ has been able to unlock a part of the human psyche that most of us aren’t capable of comprehending, let alone channel fluently through music. Still to this day, Springsteen uses his art as a coping mechanism for dealing with complex deep-rooted issues which stem from his dysfunctional childhood and his complicated relationship with his father, Doug.

Doug was a World War II veteran and, upon his return from warfare, Springsteen Sr. was never the same. He suffered severe PTSD from the traumatic events he witnessed for the rest of his life, which professionals would later diagnose as schizophrenia.

Due to his father’s mental health struggles, Bruce always struggled to strike a meaningful relationship with him, and, in a messed-up kind of way, this has provided him with the desire he needed to fuel his songwriting. Even though Doug has been dead for decades, everything Springsteen does remains a bid to make his late father proud.

Springsteen alluded to their lack of relationship when he appeared on Conan and implied it remains the only inspiration he needs. “I believe that most successful, obsessive artists have something very special eating at them, and that’s what makes them interesting to us,” he told the comic.

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“There is an undescribable problem at their centre that they’re constantly trying to sort out. It’s not completely ‘sort-out-able,’ but you can’t find elements of clues that bring you closer to the source. And this is how people are using their craft. This is how you can’t take your eyes off them or your ears.”

He continued, “Those people have had someone in their life who has told them they are the second coming of Christ and at the same time someone in their life who’s told them they are absolutely worthless. And they believed them both.

“So consequently, you’re in the process of trying to retrieve the unconditional love that you experienced by the parent who told you you were holier than thou and trying to prove to your other parent how deeply wrong they were.”

Springsteen then name-checked Robert DeNiro, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Hank Williams, and Bob Dylan as people who have had a similar conflict in their lives which has helped them reach the zenith of their chosen fields.

‘The Boss’ has an inherent need to create lodged inside of him, and no matter how much money rests in his bank account, nothing else comes close to filling that gaping void that still lingers inside of him quite like music.