When asked about the first time a song changed his life, the rock legend shared a vivid story from his adolescence, when the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” came on the car radio while he was in the car with his mother. “I immediately demanded she let me out, I ran to the bowling alley, ran down a long neon-lit aisle… ran to the phone booth, got in the phone booth, immediately called my girl and said, ‘Have you heard this band called the Beatles?’” Springsteen said. “And after that, it was nothing but rock & roll with guitars.”
Springsteen went on to recall a few other firsts, like how his introduction to punk came from reading about the budding musical movement in London, which prompted him to buy a slew of records — not having heard a note — from a record shop that was importing them. He also told the story of purchasing his first Hank Williams record, hearing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” for the first time and playing with his first band, the Merchants, a guitar, drum and saxophone trio that practiced in a friend’s kitchen.
“They lasted for two rehearsals, is my recollection,” Springsteen quipped of the group.
Springsteen also shared fond memory from his own career — the first time an audience sang “Hungry Heart” at a show, which soon became a tradition. “It was a terrible arena that I think used to be in Chicago,” Springsteen said. “It was one of the most awful-sounding places I’ve ever been in. We did a soundcheck and it sounded… it didn’t even sound bad — it wasn’t good enough to sound bad. That’s how bad it was. So I figured, this is gonna be nothing but disaster, but that night, we kicked into ‘Hungry Heart,’ and the entire audience sang it back. Ended up being an incredible show, and from that point on — this is way pre-internet — people sang it every single night.”