Bruce Springsteen has revealed that his intimate White House performance for Obama staffers inspired his upcoming Broadway residency.
Speaking to the New York Times, Springsteen also provided some details about the Broadway performances, which will run from October to February at New York’s Walter Kerr Theater.
In January, Springsteen secretly staged an acoustic White House gig featuring a tailored setlist of 15 songs that skewed closer to his more political works. Inspired by that performance to 250 Obama staffers as well as the release of his autobiography Born to Run, Springsteen set his sights on Broadway.
“My idea was really just to present the work that I’ve done for the past 40 years or so and let it speak for itself,” Springsteen said. “I didn’t feel like I needed to get on a soapbox or be real ideological about it. I wanted the night to play very naturally, and be broad enough to be about all the things I’ve written about over the years. And in that way, in the contrast, it would comment.”
Although that White House gig featured overtly political tracks like “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Land of Hope and Dreams,” Springsteen said of the Broadway residency, “There’s nothing Trump-centric about what I’m doing.”
“It’s going to feel like a garage workshop basically, and I’m going to play my songs and tell my stories. So it wasn’t something that called for a whole lot more than that,” Springsteen told the Times.
“Basically it’s a one-man show. There’s no production beyond the stage, some lights and some very high-quality sound. I thought anything beyond the song and the story ended up feeling too rigid and distracting. It happens every time we go to do a tour, you know?”
Springsteen also compared his Broadway run to his 2005 episode of VH1 Storytellers, the series where artists shared the anecdotes behind certain tracks before performing the songs themselves.
When asked whether performing a rigid set list over the course of the Springsteen on Broadway run would wear on him – the rocker called the residency “my first real job” – Springsteen responded, “I’ve played ‘Born to Run,’ many, many times. I’m sure if we went on the Internet we could find out how many. But the key is, you have to approach it not as a repetition but as a renewal. And to do that your spirit has got to be 100 percent present. But it’s a new audience every night. There’s new faces, there’s new opportunities. Those songs have been very good to me over the years, and in return I try to be good to them. So you have a chance of renewing the emotion and the spirit in that music on a nightly basis. That’s the place I work to get to every night when I’m onstage. “
In addition to writing Born to Run and working on the Broadway show, Springsteen also revealed that “I’ve finished a record,” but didn’t elaborate any further on the follow-up to 2014’s High Hopes.