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A 54-Minute Conversation With Bruce Springsteen

The legend speaks candidly about his process, collaborators, future projects and more

Bruce Springsteen performs in New York City.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
January 9, 2014 9:00 AM ET

Bruce Springsteen doesn't do a lot of interviews, so when he called Rolling Stone recently, we decided to ask him not only about his new album, High Hopes, but about everything from his future touring plans to the status of the River box set and his long-awaited memoir to his thoughts on a Springsteen Bootleg Series. We've posted parts of this interview in recent weeks, but here is the complete 54-minute conversation. 

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You said that this album started as something else and morphed into this project. Tell me how it all came together.
The best way to describe this album would be to say it’s a bit of an anomaly, but not that much.  I don’t really work completely linearly like a lot of people do. You have to imagine that at the end of the tour, or when I’m home, I go into a studio and I’m surrounded by paintings that are sort of half-finished. There’s something wrong with this one that I couldn’t finish and it’s just sitting there, and I didn’t have time for this one or this one didn’t fit into the bigger project I was working on. 

So I go into my studio where I’m surrounded by all my music that I haven’t released, and I wait to see what’s speaking to me. Imagine something like "The Ghost of Tom Joad." That was originally written to be on the Greatest Hits package we put out in the Nineties. It was a rock song, but I couldn’t come up with an arrangement, so it became an acoustic song. Because it became an acoustic song, I then wrote The Ghost of Tom Joad album that went with it. Then those songs got into our tour, acoustically. Then those songs got into our E Street touring set list and became rock songs. I sort of found some of those arrangements on the road while playing with the band. 

One thing leads to another, so they become part of our live show, but miss getting on the studio record because they didn’t necessarily fit with the sonic picture. So "Ghost of Tom Joad" ends up on this record as the rock song it was, perhaps, intended to be 15 years ago. That’s a pretty good idea of the way I go with these things.

Read Rolling Stone's review of High Hopes

And this isn't the first time you've worked like this.
I’ve done it for a long time. If you go back to The River, "Sherry Darling" was done for Darkness on the Edge of Town. "Independence Day" was written for Darkness on the Edge of Town. There's always songs that hold over and that often move you to your next project, or sometimes not. They sort of sit in a limbo. That happens a lot. 

Before Wrecking Ball I was working on an entirely different record. That record is kinda sitting there at the moment, and I’m actually working on that record now. What happened is, I was missing a song for that record and so I wrote "Easy Money." "Easy Money" then turned into a 10-day recording session where I wrote and recorded all the rest on 'em, a completely different album.

"Wrecking Ball" had been in our tour set list. "Land of Hope and Dreams" was written for the E Street band when we got together in the late Nineties. I'm trying to give you an example of how all of this is very flowing and organic. I will also sit down and write 12 new songs or something, but as I’ve gone along and amassed a large body of both unreleased and unfinished projects, that happens strictly less and less. I’m sort of in the process of just working on what is speaking to me at a particular moment. That's very common for me right now.

Tell me more about how this one began.
I go in my studio where I’m surrounded by, hopefully, interesting things that I think that our fans might be [interested in] hearing, and I then proceed to work on them and see if I can bring something to fruition. Which is, for me, where I say, "Okay, this is something that’s focused enough and at a quality level where I think it won’t waste my fans' time and they will enjoy hearing it." That’s kind of the way that I work, so it sort of explains this group of music a little bit in the sense that it’s music that I’ve been working on over the past decade. Some of it was unfinished, so there was a lot of new recording on it.

The addition of Tom Morello also changed your perception of these songs.
Yes.  I was always trying to find a home for [these songs] and Tom came into our touring picture and suggested an obscure B-side from a band I loved back when I lived in Los Angeles in the Nineties, the Havalinas. He said, "'High Hopes.' That’s a jam. I could really do something on that." I said, "Okay, if you have suggestions when you come on the road, let me know what they are." So we worked that out, and with the addition of Tom, that turned into something. It was like, "Okay, we haven’t sounded quite like this before."

We went in [to the studio] in Australia and recorded "High Hopes" there, as well as a cover of a Saints' song ["Just Like Fire Would"] we were playing in Australia that I’ve had on my radar for 20 years or so that I always liked. Then that sort of plugged into the rest of the material that I’d kind of had, once again, sitting by the side of the road, waiting to see if I can turn it into something that felt complete. I don’t know if that explains how a record like this is put together and how it doesn’t fit under the word of "outtakes." It’s the way I approach something.

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You have lots of material from the 1990s in the vaults too, right?
I have a record that I’ve been listening to since 1994, which is a record I made while I was recording “Streets of Philadelphia.” I made an entire record similar to that record, where I was using drum loops. I’ve been listening to that for almost 20 years. There was something at the time that was missing, but sometimes somebody comes along and plugs in that missing piece, or I’ll pick it out sometimes every two or three years, and I’ll see if I have any fresh insights. And if not, I put it away, and if I do I may work on it a little bit.

The best way to describe it would be I go in, I’m surrounded by all my stuff, and I have a lot of different types of works-in-progress in different genres, and some solo work. Some things feel more like they should be good for the band. Some things sit in the middle somewhere or it's something I’ve never done before. And it’s all just raw material I went in and drew from. 

I have a large body of raw material that I create from. Very often it might be a song or two, and then I write some. Even the music from Wrecking Ball – "Wrecking Ball" and "Land of Hope and Dreams" – are things we’ve been playing. But I had "Shackled and Drawn," too. I had "Rocky Ground" from a film project somebody had asked me to work on from several years before that I wrote on a short stay in Florida. So they were sitting on my notebook.

I’ll also go in my notebook where things wait until the time is right. This would be the way that I work today. I’ve had variations of it over the years, but I do a lot of writing, so you build up a greater body of unreleased work over time and you end up with just a repository of interesting things.

I’m not in any rush. I’m not somebody who, if I write a song, I get it out. That’s not something I’ve ever really quite done. A few of the records. But I don’t have a problem writing something. . .Take the entire Devils and Dust record. After "Tom Joad" didn't work out as a rock song, it became an acoustic song. I cut the The Ghost of Tom Joad record while also cutting an entire album that was also a little more country-like at the same time. That became Devils and Dust. A lot of that album was cut alongside Tom Joad. All of these things are very fluid. They go in and out of one another. They feed one another. They spark one another. Songs that came out of one project may spark an entire other project. This is the way that I make my records today.

How did Tom Morello's presence change the scope of the record?
I was on the road and, just to amuse myself, I’ll have a computer filled with a lot of this music. Very often, if I have nothing to do late at night, I’ll bring it up and look at different bodies of music I have to be worked on. I guess if there was a common thread in this music it would be that most of it had been recorded over the past 10 years and it had, for one reason or another, not gotten on The Rising or Magic or Working on a Dream.

I had music that was relatively current by my lights and had a similar sound-picture. They were modern recordings of the E Street band, which I credit to Brendan O’Brien as being the initiator of the modern sound of the E Street band on record. He was the guy that, when we went to do The Rising, I went down and cut two or three songs, came into the studio and immediately heard the band in a very fresh and different way. He kickstarted our recording career into another gear back in 2002, when we did The Rising. This is all stuff that's post-that event, post-his influence.  

There was this certain common currency to its sound picture. I was interested in putting this material together in some form because, orally, it sounded like it fit together. So I had that music, and Tom came in and what he did was, he took that music and sort of jolted it into the now. He brings a complete sound picture with him. He's one of the few, few guitarists that creates a world by himself. It’s like, "Whoa." Edge does it. Obviously, Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, the great guitarists. Different guys for different bands. Johnny Marr, the Smiths, had that ability. 

It’s funny. When Tom Morello’s up there, the E Street Band is a pretty big house. But he builds on another room. He builds on a room that hadn’t existed before. With that idea in mind – that I had another architect – I re-looked at the music that I had and said, "Let me run this one through Tom." So that’s what I started to do. His influence is very noticeable on maybe half the [tracks]. 

Tom's a very intellectually-inspiring guy. He has a lot of ideas. He’s very articulate about them, and very casual as we worked together. He has so much creativity. I’d just send him a track and he’d send me back four or five things that were just terrific. He was another way that I unified this particular group of material. He became a filter that I ran all of that music through, and he would send it back to me with a very current slant on it. I’m not sure if the record would exactly exist without his influence. He really allowed me to tie it all together, in a way that I’ve been looking for that I hadn’t found. He just really brought that stuff to life. 

Can you give me an example where he had a real big impact?
I don’t have the set list in front of me, but "High Hopes" and "Harry's Place" and "Heaven's Wall" and certainly "American Skin" and "Ghost of Tom Joad." Those were two songs that I said, "Okay, these are two of my best songs that I’ve written over the past 10 or 20 years." And they didn’t have a formal presentation on a studio record. When that happens, a song always loses a little of its authority. There’s something about formally presenting it to your audience that I think makes a difference. 

I said, "I really want these songs. They need that sort of presentation." We went in and re-recorded those things with Tom, and his presence made a big, big difference. He obviously brings those things to great life and deepens them and deepens the characters. I realize I’ve spattered a lot at you, but this is sort of the way that this record occurred. Tom had a big, big hand in its existence. We also hadn’t really recorded together in a studio before. We’ve had so much fun onstage. It was a way of being like, "You know what? There’s material that exists, but it’s not fully-realized." He helped me realize those songs that he came in and worked on. Now this feels like a record to me. And now here we are.

The first time you heard Rage Against the Machine, could you have imagined that guitar sound could have fit into your music and the E Street Band?
No. Not immediately. But the E Street band casts a pretty wide net. Our influences go all the way back to the early primitive garage music and, also, we’ve had everything in the band from jazz players to Kansas City trumpet players to Nils Lofgren, one of the great rock guitarists in the world. Our ability to spread out – stretch out and gather things in from a lot of other areas you might not expect – is pretty good. 

My cousin Lenny [Sullivan] was a huge Rage Against the Machine fan and he said, “They did 'The Ghost of Tom Joad.'" I said, "Really?" But it sounds great. Then Tom came to a few shows, and he knows my sister in Los Angeles, and over a very long period of time we kinda became friendly.

It was many, many years before we said, "Why don’t you come up and play? Let’s find something you can play on." In other words, "Let’s find a way to take what you do and take what I do, [and] let’s find the crossroads where they intersect."  I can remember, it was in Los Angeles, and he came up and played the “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and the place exploded in probably one of the loudest crowd responses I’ve heard in all the years we’ve been playing. It was just like something explosive happened. 

Is the version of "Tom Joad" something you worked out that day? It sounds pretty similar to what you guys cut on the new album. 
Yeah. That was something we worked out at the soundcheck that day. We probably played [the song] maybe two or three times at the soundcheck, and then played it live. And then if Tom came out, it became something we did together. So then it became, "Where does this lead? This is fascinating. It extends the power of the band. Where does it go?" That’s something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. And so this group of music was sort of  like, "Let’s put our feet in the water a little bit here and see what happens if we take that place where we intersect." It was kind of done very casually, and relatively quickly, but it was, once again, sort of just a place where lightning struck. We’re getting close to that place, and bang: lightning strikes. Something exciting happens and something expanding happens. That’s what he brings.

Was there one point during the making of this record where you realized, "Yes, I have a record here?"
Yeah. We cut a few sessions on the road and I said, "Well, these sound good." I said, "Okay, we’re taking it one step at a time. We have these fresh sessions of 'American Skin' and 'Ghost of Tom Joad' and 'High Hopes' and 'Just Like Fire Would' and then I have this body of work that I’ve been searching for the context for. These things blend together." Suddenly, it began to feel very fresh and fit together quite well. 

I had songs that I really liked. I had the song "The Wall" that I also thought was a really, really good song that just didn’t go on The Rising or the record that came after it, that I had been kind of holding. It’s funny, because Brian Fallon from Gaslight Anthem called just a little bit after we cut it saying,  "Hey, I’ve been thinking about cutting this song." And I said, "We just cut it for our next record."

 That song was kind of out there under the radar, but it was just a song that meant a lot to me. If I keep working on things, they turn into something of their own. You may not meet the right person to finish something for a decade, or you may meet them tomorrow. An outgrowth of having a long career is that I have a lot of interesting things around that I get to revisit and, someday, get to the place where they become something that I want to do next. 

I want to go through some of the songs here. Tell me about "High Hopes." Tom said to me he heard the 1990s version on E Street Radio and texted you. 
Yeah. I think he was interested in it because it’s different, rhythmically, than what we’ve done. It’s got almost syncopation in it. If you listen in the back, there’s some James Brown-horns punched in once in a while. It’s almost a little New Orleans-y also. A little Latin-y, too. It covers a lot. I’m sure he’s hearing, "Hey, this is something I can really play over."

Obviously, when Tom came to play with the band, I was interested in, how is he going to change the band? Because that’s going to be the fun part. He sat in for Steve in that period of time. He’ll need to change the band, and he will change the band in some way. How can I help him do that? And how can I get what I like out of it? So he suggested ["High Hopes"] and then we worked it up once again a couple of days before our first show in Australia and, of course, he had a very particular idea. And the live version of it, he even takes it further. When that guitar comes in, it’s just what you haven’t heard on the E Street record before. 

The Havalinas are a relatively obscure group.
They were a great group that kind of went under the radar, but they were in Los Angeles and I always really liked them. They were kind of an acoustic rock group, with a standup bass player and mainly-acoustic guitar and a drummer, and I liked the way they sounded and what they wrote about.

I was drawn to the song because it's very good lyrically without being sort of didactic or too direct. It's got a really good lyric about struggling. And also it’s got a great chorus. It’s got a fantastic chorus, which has a lot to do with it. 

Did you see them in concert when you lived in Los Angeles?
No, I don't think I ever did. I had the albums though.

"Down In The Hole" sounds like an outtake from The Rising to me. 
Yeah. Sometimes you end up with a choice between two things that you like a lot and I think I had maybe that and “Empty Sky."  The Rising had 15 songs on it and it felt long enough. That’s basically as it was written and mixed at that time by Brendan. That’s sort of very original.

Tell me about "Frankie Fell In Love." That has a very different feel than the rest of the album.
That one was one of those songs that’s fun to write and might have come out somewhere around Magic. Then I recut pieces of it,  certainly the drums. Actually, I know what that was: that was a song I had that we cut for Magic and didn’t use the version that we cut. I also had a great demo of it. I have demos of most of these records that I make on my own, and once in a while you don’t beat one. That was one of those. I just loved it lyrically, and I thought that it’s a great thing for Steve and myself. It’s just a great little Faces-type rock song. I always had it sitting around as one of my favorite straight-up E Street Band rock songs, so we went in and did some new cutting on that with Steve and drums and bass.

It really lightens the mood, since it's so euphoric.
Well, by the time you get there. . . [Laughs

Tell me about "Harry's Place." It sounds like that takes place at a whore house or mobsters' den or something.
That was my take on the Bush years.  That would have perhaps originated from Magic, because that was the record where I was writing about the last days of the Bush years. I had that piece, and it was another one of those things where it was that or something else. Then Tom came in and cut on top of it, and we remixed it and recut some things on it, and I just worked on it some more over the last few months.

I recall you reading those lyrics to a reporter in 2002, though.
I read them to Ted Koppel, I think. Oh, so if I had those in my book, maybe that must have been for The Rising. I had those lyrics at that time. It’s not uncommon for lyrics to sit in a notebook for a very long time sometimes. I might not know what to do with them, and then suddenly it’s there. So that song was a classic one that had a long gestation. I think, lyrically, I had it way back then. Musically, it's from somewhere in the mid-zeros, and then we recorded a lot of things freshly on it recently. It’s not an uncommon progression for some of my music.

I wanna talk a bit about the production of the album. You used to favor a sort of minimalist production, but with the last two or three albums you've broadened out a bit. 
That would probably have to do with the producers: Brendan O'Brien and Ron Aniello. With Brendan, there's a real denseness to his sound picture and ideas.  I really liked him and made the recordings very intense and I think that’s what we were trying to reach. 

Through the Nineties, we lost our recorded intensity. What happened is, we went from being good producers in the 1980s to not very good in the 1990s at producing our own material. We weren’t trying enough. We needed to interact with other people who were making records all the time and making a lot of modern records, and [have] our fingers on the way modern records were sounding. Which is not that different than records were sounding in the Seventies, actually.  

It was a return to a lot of analog, and recording the bass and the drums on 24-track tape. It was a bit of a return. Those records actually, sound-wise, have something to do with a lot of the early records in the 1970s. So they brought a particular sound picture. E Street was a big band, getting bigger all the time, obviously. And then when Ron Aniello came in to finish the record I was making before Wrecking Ball, there was just a lot of homework to do on it.

Ron worked with Patti very well. I said, "Well, maybe this guy could come in and help me finish some of the homework on this record." Then he came in, and I was driving around trying to find a song to finish that project, and I came up with a song called “Easy Money.” And I ran back to the studio and he was there and we started to record it. When he started to record that, he brought out a whole different set of skills that really was just right for that sort of material and what I’ve been working on lately.

He has a really vast array, a very big sound palette and sound picture. Very creative. I think Working on a Dream was probably our biggest production, but actually with Wrecking Ball, we pulled in lots of loops and things I hadn’t used previously on that degree on some of our other records. Like I said, I’m always looking for ways to extend and enhance the band on our records and when we play live.

Recording while on tour is different than the way you usually approach making a record.Previously, everything was like when I was a kid and I need the peas to be on one plate and the corn had to be on another plate and I didn’t like them to touch. That was kind of where I was coming from in the stadium and everything was very segregated. Particularly when you first start, and you record A to Z, and you go out and you tour for two years. And I look back and, even then, it was a lot of music that overlapped. If you look at the early recordings of Born to Run that you can hear sometimes on satellite radio, there’s versions of them that sound very much like they came off of Wild and the Innocent. They are much more related to those songs, recording-wise. It was where I had the songs but I didn’t have the new sound idea yet. There’s lots of bridges and things that go from one project to another where places overlap. I forget what I was talking about.

Talk about recording while on tour for the first time.
That was just something we didn’t do. You played. You were excited. You weren’t going to go in a studio. You didn’t have the energy or the scheduling wasn’t right. We kinda got out there and we got excited and we had some time and I had this material that I thought was kind of sitting there waiting. I was in the middle of thinking about a lot of these songs together. Suddenly, I found a hook to really bring it to life and so, when I found that, I was anxious to go in and work on it. I believe [they were] the first recording sessions we ever did while we toured. It was fun.

You cover Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" on the album. You've been a huge fan of them for decades, right? 
Yeah. They are underground masters, to me. Just one of  the greatest. Alan Vega, one of the greatest. They should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in my opinion. They are just amazing. I loved them, and they had an influence on Nebraska in a roundabout way.

Fans got to see your rendition of "Dream Baby Dream" really evolve onstage during the Devils and Dust tour.
That was always a song of theirs I deeply loved. When I went to do the Devils and Dust tour I decided to do it myself, just on my own. I thought to myself, "How would Roy Orbison sing this song?" What made Roy's music great is that it was so mainstream, but it had a very strange underbelly to it that David Lynch tapped into for his films. There's a place under there where they connected. I thought, "How would he approach this song?" So I kinda took it from there, and kinda connected it to my own work and my ideas and things I've written about. 

That was something I tried to cut in the studio and failed a variety of different times, but I always kinda had my eye on it and the song. And this was something that when the end of the tour came up and this song wasn't on the album, I thought, "Gee, it would be nice to do a thanks to the fans using this piece of music." I had cut some of in the studio, but I once again went back to it, re-recorded a lot of things on it, and it ended up being the piece we used on the "Dream Baby Dream" video. And it ended up on the record.

Are you at all tempted to just hire Tom Morello as a full-time member of the E Street Band?
I think right now we are just playing together when the opportunity arrises. We have a surfeit of great guitarists. Steve Van Zandt, the poor guy, doesn't get to play enough as it is with me hogging a lot of the solos. Steve has always been a fabulous guitarist. Back from the day when we were both teenagers together, he led his band and played lead and was always a hot guitar player. Of course, Nils is a guy with a world of his own at his fingertips. Tom, once again, does something else kind of on the instrument and something in his mind and who he is, he's a great addition and we're enjoying it as it stands. I'm excited that he's going to be out with us on our next stretch of the road.

The fans in America really want to see this show. Do you think it'll be back here this summer?
I don't know. It's not impossible. We're looking around to see what we might do. We're going to Africa and we're going to Australia. We had a few other select dates. . .a few in the States, sort of event shows. We're looking at it. I don't want to say "yes" because I don't want to disappoint, but I certainly don't want to rule it out too. We're looking closely at it. And there's places we missed on the last tour. As much as we played, we didn't get to Texas, where I love to play. We didn't get to Florida. There were some other places we didn't get on that entire tour. It might be fun to get back to some of those places.

You said you're currently working on the songs you wrote prior to Wrecking Ball. Do you think that's your next album?
I don't know. [Laughs].  The only thing in this entire conversation where I don't know exactly what I'm doing. No. I had a very – not complete – but a very developed group of sort of solo songs in a different sort of genre that I worked on for quite a long time previous to Wrecking Ball. When Wrecking Ball came along, first of all, with what was going on in the country, I wanted to get a record out right away. It really took precedence, and it was one of those records – similar to Nebraska or Tunnel of Love – it came out all at once in about ten days. Most of the new things did. At least the new ones did, and the ones I took from my notebook reshaped and re-formed themselves in a very short period of time. Then we worked on it together the way it was released.

I'm always working on something. The one thing I've been lucky with is over the past 10, 15 years, I've done a lot of writing and I've had a very fruitful period of writing. That's the blueprint for anything you go do. It's the key to the currency of the band. On any given night, our show is half what I call "our new stuff," which is anything written over the past decade or so. We've been lucky to come up with a group of material that's meaningful to our fans, that they come and they want to hear. That's been something we worked hard at and thought hard about and I'm interested in continuing.

There are so many live bootlegs that circulate through the fan community. Do you ever think about releasing some of them as a Bruce Springsteen Bootleg Series?
Old concerts, I don't know. Do people need them anymore? [Laughs] Don't they just go on the Internet and find them? 

Fans want them in perfect sound quality and with some sort of official release, and you have very few live albums. Do you ever think about going back to that stuff?
I go back to stuff all the way to before I recorded. I had a whole other career as a heavy-metal guitarist [big laugh] that never came out on record anywhere. But there's tons of music. If you go on YouTube, there is actually quite a bit of it there. And I had a prog band [laughs], basically. I mean, Steel Mill was a heavy-metal, prog-rock, blues-based classic, sort of late-1960s, early 1970s four-piece unit. We made a lot of music. [Laughs] I never close the door on any of it. I suppose it would be nice to get some of the classic concerts that have kept people's interest over the past 20, 30 or even 40 years and maybe formalize them in some way. That's not off the drawing board either. It's all there.

Are you thinking about a Tracks 2 at any point?
Once again, it comes up against the time you have. One of the things we're looking at is a River project, sort of similar to the one we did with Darkness. It depends on the material that's around and what it needs. On Darkness, we were able to release a lot of the Darkness material that hadn't been released up to that point. That was fun to do.

There's just a lot of things. I kinda keep all these things wide open. I'm in search of the context for different things to be released, and what feels right, timing-wise. What feels like it'll be interesting to your fans at a certain moment, or what feels like you need to do at a particular time. Or it's just interesting to you. This is all the way that I work now. It involves all of these things and all of these ideas, going on all of the time. [Laughs

It's interesting that you took off nearly seven years between Tom Joad and The Rising, but now you're clearly working at a much faster pace. 
It's the old story that "the light from the oncoming train focuses the mind." [Laughs] There's a little bit of that, in [that] you go, "I have all this material, and I sort of released less than I would have liked to." It did focus the music well. Certainly, in the 1990s, I look back and think, "Sometimes I'm not satisfied completely with something. Sometimes that's not necessarily a reason to not release it." There are things that are just interesting on their own and they come out on their own terms. But when I get down to biting the bullet, I always go, "If it's not enough for me, it's not enough for my audience." 

You have different levels of sensitivities about these things at different times. I think in the 1990s, I was really trying to refine myself. Was I an acoustic act now? I wasn't working with the E Street Band? How am I going to carry on? Do I have a way to make the band current and relevant for the times we were in? I was trying to answer all of those questions that were sort of stewing in the 1990s. 

Then, coming across "Streets of Philadelphia" and "Ghost of Tom Joad" kind of led me back to some topical writing, which really lead me back to the band, which was a place where that writing expands and reaches the greatest audience. So it's all sort of. . .It's like anything else. There are some slower periods, highs, lows. It's not linear work.

But you see a train coming towards you?
Don't you? How old are you? [Big laugh]

Thirty-two.
[Laughs] Oh. You don't see it yet! But it's coming! [Laughs

Are you still working on that book?
I've done some writing. That kind of began with the little essay I wrote about the Super Bowl that we posted online. I thought, "That's an interesting voice." I wrote a little bit more using that voice. And I wouldn't call it a book yet. [Laughs] It's writings, miscellaneous writings. 

On that River box set: are you making a documentary to go along with it?
The Darkness blueprint was really nice, but it depends what you have. With Darkness we both found a great old concert and we cut the thing again in Asbury Park with just the band, and there was a lot of music, much more than I ever thought I had, unreleased. A lot of it depends on what you have when you go back in the vault and you start to see what was around from that period of your work life. That sort of shapes the project and shapes how it's presented. I'm kind of going record by record, a little bit. That's something we're working on. If we have enough, it'll happen. If there's not enough there, then it wouldn't. 

Your first two albums still aren't remastered.
Yeah. It's something between your work and your home life. Maybe I need to delegate a little more. [Laughs]

Back to the tour, you sound like you think there are more American dates coming this summer… 
I don't wanna say because I don't want to disappoint. But we're playing in Africa. We're playing in Australia. Then we're possibly doing some more playing. It would be nice to get back in the States if it seemed like it was going to work out for everybody involved.  

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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