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When Mumford & Sons Met Bruce Springsteen

'That was better than the Grammys,' Marcus Mumford says of charity event honoring the star

Mumford and Sons perform at the MusiCares Person Of The Year event honoring Bruce Springsteen.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS
February 14, 2013 10:50 AM ET

Mumford & Sons just had the biggest weekend of their career, winning the Album of the Year Grammy for their second LP, Babel. But backstage at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Tuesday night, the band was even more excited to talk about meeting and playing for Bruce Springsteen. Before the Grammys, Mumford played "I'm on Fire" at a MusiCares benefit gala honoring Springsteen, alongside performers including Neil Young and Elton John. "That was better than the Grammys," says Marcus Mumford. "There were so many songs to choose from, and they didn't even play all the best ones. It was ridiculous. Neil Young and Crazy Horse did 'Born in the U.S.A.' Fuck yeah!"

Mumford & Sons React to 'Mind-Fucking' Grammy Win

Mumford & Sons got a chance to meet their hero when Springsteen stepped outside while the band was taking a smoke break. What did he say to them? "'Shave, you fucking pricks,'" says bassist Ted Dwane with a deadpan smile. "'Have you ever played those instruments, you bastards?'"

Banjo player Winston Marshall joins in on the joke: "[He said] 'Stop pretending,' I think. That was either him or Elton John."

"Just horrible, horrible things," Dwane laughs. "No, he was very sweet. He's a very sweet man . . . I've been on a Bruce binge all weekend, because he's fucking amazing."

Marcus Mumford is a little more serious when discussing the event. "We wanted to do it around one microphone, because we enjoy being able to do that at our gigs," he says. "It's a nice moment to be able to sort of draw a room together, but we had no idea if it was going to work." But the atmosphere was welcoming. "The egos melted away. No one was there to promote their own record or even play their own songs, so the pressure was kind off in a way. Then the Boss fucking gets up and fucking rips it in the last few."

Elton John, Mumford & Sons Lead Levon Helm Tribute at the Grammys

The band's publicist mentions that he spent his cross-country flight listening to Springsteen's discography. "Hopefully, one day someone will get on a plane from L.A. to New York and try to listen to all of our albums, see how far they can get," Mumford responds with a smile. "That's the dream, really."

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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