Bruce Springsteen is New Jersey’s unofficial mascot. With 20 studio albums under his belt, the artist has had quite the career, and quite the identity to go along with it. His sound is clearly defined as the rugged dad-rock that so many know and love him for.
However, even with his distinct sound, some of his influences and tastes might still surprise you, from his songwriting connection with Patti Smith to his love of one specific Beatles album that transformed his perspective on music.
In fact, in conjunction with discussing the inspiration, he even performed a cover of one of his favourite songs from the album. What was that album? None other than the Fab Four effort Meet the Beatles!. Although it’s an often-overlooked classic in favour of their later works, it features some of their greatest songs to date.
When asked what was so special about the album, Springsteen recalled: “The Beatles were cool. They were classical, formal, and created the idea of an independent unit where everything could come out of your garage. The Meet the Beatles album cover, those four headshots. I remember, I seen ’em at J. J. Newberry’s. It was the first thing I saw when you ran down to the five–and–ten cent store. There were no record stores. There weren’t enough records, I don’t think, in those days. There was a little set by the toys where they sold a few albums. And I remember running in and seeing that album cover with those four headshots.” The interesting notion is that the album is largely considered one of the band’s artistic lower points, though that is in comparison to their impressive discography.
If you wanted a reason as to why The Beatles became worldwide sensations then you need only look at this 1963 release. The album contains some of the group’s earliest smash hits, including ‘All My Loving’, ‘Please Mr. Postman’ and George Harrison’s first foray into songwriting ‘Don’t Bother Me’. The album featured some classic covers too, as was customary for bands of the time. As well as paying homage to Chuck Berry with their cover of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ and to Smokey Robinson with ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’.
For Springsteen, however, the album represented so much more than simply the songs it contained, it was his destiny. “It was like the silent gods of Olympus,” he continued. “Your future was just sort of staring you in the face. I remember thinking, ‘That’s too cool. I’m never gonna get there, man, never.’ And then in some fanzine I came across a picture of the Beatles in Hamburg. And they had on the leather jackets and the slick–backed pompadours, they had acned faces. I said, hey, ‘Wait a minute, those are the guys I grew up with, only they were Liverpool wharf rats.’ So minus their Nehru jackets and the haircuts – so these guys, they’re kids. They’re a lot cooler than me, but they’re still kids. There must be a way to get there from here.”
It’s funny how one image can change someone’s entire perception, not just of the music they love, but of themselves, too. To go one step further, there’s a good argument to suggest that Springsteen’s life changed the moment he witnessed the album. It would send him on a path to his own musical greatness.
If you want to check out Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney performing together, you can check it out right below.