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Exclusive: The Complete Text of Bruce Springsteen's SXSW Keynote Address

Page 4 of 9

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. Then for me, it was The Animals. For some, they were just another one the really good beat groups that came of the 60s. But to me, The Animals were a revelation. The first records with full blown class consciousness that I had ever heard.  "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" had that great bass riff, that (playing bass line of "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place) and that was just marking time.

(Singing and strumming "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"):

In this dirty old part of the city, where the sun refused to shine.

People tell me there ain't no sense in trying.

My little girl, you're so young and pretty.

One thing I know is true, 

You'll be dead before your time is due, this I know.

See my Daddy in bed and dying.

See his hair turning grey.

He's been working and slaving his life away, yes, I know.

It's been work – every day

Just work – every day

It's been work, work, work, work.

We gotta get out of this place

If it's the last thing we ever do

We gotta get out of this place

Girl, there's a better life for me and you.

Yes, I know it's true.

That's every song I've ever written. Yeah. That's all of them. I'm not kidding, either. That's "Born to Run," "Born in the USA," everything I've done for the past 40 years, including all the new ones. But that struck me so deep. It was the first time I felt I heard something come across the radio that mirrored my home life, my childhood. And the other thing that was great about The Animals was there were no good–looking members. There were none. They were considered to be one of the ugliest groups in all of rock and roll.

And that was good. That was good for me, because I considered myself hideous at the time. And they weren't nice, you know. They didn't curry favor, you know. They were like aggression personified. It's my life, I'll do what I want. They were cruel. They were cruel, which was so freeing. It was so freeing. When you saw Eric Burdon, he was like your shrunken daddy with a wig on. He never, he never had a kid's face. He always had a little man's face, you know.

And he couldn't dance. And they put him in suit, but it was like putting a gorilla in a suit. You could tell he was like, "Fuck that shit, man." He didn't want it. And then he had that voice that was, like, I don't know, the Howlin' Wolf, or something – coming out of some seventeen or eighteen–year–old kid. I don't know how it happened. I found their cruelty so freeing. What was that great verse in "It's My Life?" It's a hard world to get a break in, all the good things have been taken. And then, "Though dressed in these rags I'll wear sable someday, hear what I say. I'm gonna ride the serpent. No more time spent sweating rent." Then that beautiful, "It's my life. Show me I'm wrong, hurt me sometime. Hurt me sometime. But someday I'll treat you real fine.  I love that.

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