I am not a music critic. Nor historian, nor archivist. I cannot tell you where Bruce Springsteen falls in the pantheon of the American songbook. I cannot illuminate the context of his work, or its roots in the folk and oral history traditions of our great nations.
But I am from New Jersey.
So, I can tell you what I believe. And what I believe is that Bob Dylan and James Brown had a baby. Yes! And they abandoned this child, as you can imagine at the time…interracial, same sex relationships being what they were…they abandoned this baby by the side of the road between the exit interchanges 8A and 9 on the Jersey Turnpike…that child was Bruce Springsteen…
I believe that Bruce Springsteen is an unprecedented combination of lyrical eloquence, musical mastery and sheer unbridled, unadulterated joy. Exuberance in the act of telling stories so familiar, stories that have never been told so well or so uniquely. And I know he’s hating this right now. He’s a modest man, and he doesn’t like sitting there in that little box, with his little suit, wearing a little rainbow dreamcatcher or whatever they have on there…he doesn’t like it.
He wishes he had his guitar and that I would shut up, but I will not. He is the Boss…But I didn’t understand his music for a long time, until I began to yearn. Until I began to question the things that I was making and doing in my own life. Until I realized that it wasn’t just about the joyful parade on stage and the theatrics.
It was about stories of lives that could be changed. And that the only status that you could fail to achieve is the status quo. The only thing, the only failure in life was not to make the effort to change our station. And it resonated with me because, and I say this truly to him…I would not be here, God knows, not even in this business if it were not for the inspirational words and music of Bruce Springsteen.” —John Stewart