Bruce Springsteen has an undeniable cinematic aspect to his lyricism. The imagination can often wander when you listen to ‘The Boss’ as his words paint a vivid picture in the listener’s mind.
Springsteen is one of his generation’s most accomplished singer-songwriters, and most can relate to his work on some level. It doesn’t matter if you’re a blue-collar worker or a fan from the affluent classes, Springsteen’s music operates through his characters on an emotional level which finds common ground that unites us all. Even though his creations might exist in a universe that seems foreign to your life, that doesn’t stop the masses from somehow finding a way to deeply connect with Springsteen’s material.
Springsteen makes the listener suspend their disbelief and become tangled up in his creation. While he credits songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney as key influences, The Boss also looks towards Hollywood when he needs a dosage of inspiration.
During a conversation with Washington Post in 2019, Springsteen talked about his love of cinema and how it has weaved its way into his songwriting style. He explained: “A lot of my writing is deeply influenced from the movies. Initially, I think were films from the New Hollywood in the early ’70s. Godfather, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets“.
Adding “Those were just pictures that came right at a certain moment when I was creating my own work. So there was something, the existential nature of a lot of them just rang true for me and it was something that I tried to make a part of my own musical persona and what I was creating.”
Springsteen continued: “I saw Mean Streets and I immediately connected to some of the things that I was doing but there was just something in the dark intensity of those pictures that felt like they spoke to the times. I look towards some of the greatest filmmakers as a bit of a blueprint, particularly John Ford, just as far as how you create a body of work that holds together over a long period of time.”
Springsteen is a lover of the vintage things in life, and with movies, he prefers to look to the classics when he needs a shot of inspiration. He concluded: “Those films and then the great film Noirs and Westerns of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s always stayed with me. It’s one little film after another on those records, my little short films.”
Filmmakers use music as a crutch, similar to how Springsteen utilises movies, and inspiration frequently travels in both directions. In fact, if it wasn’t for Springsteen’s music, director Gurinder Chadha would never have made Blinded by the Light about the life of Sarfraz Manzoor, whose life changed when he first heard Bruce Springsteen.