Ethan Hawke was born in Texas, and although the actor identifies as a Texan, it was New Jersey which turned him into the man he is today. It’s also the birthplace of the musician he wants to soundtrack his funeral.
Hawke’s parents were both students at the University of Texas when he was born, but he moved to New York with his mother after their split. They only lived there for a few years before eventually settling in New Jersey, and this was where Hawke began to understand himself. It’s the place of firsts for him, where he first fell in love, and his first concert, which he credits with changing him forever.
The first show he attended was no ordinary concert, it was Bruce Springsteen at the peak of his powers, and since that night, ‘The Boss’ has remained an ever-presence in his life. Springsteen is also the artist Hawke wants to have played as he takes his final flight.
Looking back at that show, Hawke told VICE: “My first concert as a teenager was Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA tour, 1984 at the Meadowlands. That was his poppiest album, and I was 14, so it was my first exposure to him. I was blown away by that concert.
“It changed my life because I’d been hearing about rock ‘n’ roll as this important thing in the ‘70s—what it meant to the peace movement—but I didn’t really feel how rock ‘n’ roll could change the way you think about everything until I saw that concert. Then I got The River and Darkness on the Edge of Town, which are much darker and, I would say, better albums. But they’re all great.”
He poignantly added: “It’s very hard for me to separate my teenage years in New Jersey from Bruce Springsteen. When I think of Jersey and growing up, and I think of Springsteen, Seaside Heights, and roller skating rinks in Hamilton.”
Born In The USA was the gateway drug which encouraged Hawke to dive deeper into his repertoire of material. However, it’s ‘Hungry Heart’ from The River, which he wants played at his funeral.
He explained to NME: “I want my daughter to sing that at my funeral. I just like that line, ‘Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing / I took a wrong turn and I just kept going’.”
On top of being a talented actor, Hawke’s daughter, Maya, is also a singer, and in 2020, she released her debut album, Blush. While it would be a treat to hear her cover Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’, hopefully, that moment doesn’t strike anytime soon.