Bruce Springsteen released “Ghosts,” a second single from his upcoming Letter to You, and one of the album’s hardest-hitting songs, Thursday.
A probable future live favorite when concerts resume, “Ghosts” is simultaneously a tribute to lost bandmates, a vow to carry on and a love letter to rock & roll itself. After Max Weinberg’s drum intro, Springsteen sings, “I hear the sound of your guitar,” before slashing electric chords prove him right. Recorded with the E Street Band, the song feels like a revved-up version of rockers from The River such as “Two Hearts,” complete with prominent back-up vocals from Steve Van Zandt on lines including “I turn up the volume/ and let the spirits be my guide.”
The album began with Springsteen’s grief over the passing of his high school bandmate George Theiss and with a guitar Springsteen got from a fan at the Springsteen on Broadway stage door. One day, he picked it up and “all the songs from the album came out of it, in perhaps less than 10 days,” he says in our new cover story.
The album, including “Ghosts,” was recorded live at Springsteen’s Colts Neck, New Jersey home studio in under five days late last year. “It’s the only album where it’s the entire band playing at one time,” says Springsteen, “with all the vocals and everything completely live.” He encouraged the band to embrace a classic E Street Band sound, something he had avoided for years. But now, he says, “You’re less self-conscious. And you’re less rigid. So it’s just like, ‘Hey, what would be creative? What would be fun for the fans? What would we enjoy doing?’ It’s sort of your own set of rules be damned.”