Among the highlights of Bruce Springsteen’s memorable SXSW keynote was his acoustic rendition of the Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” which he followed by saying, “That’s every song I’ve ever written. I’m not kidding, that’s all of ’em.”
That didn’t surprise Animals frontman Eric Burdon, who spoke with Rolling Stone on Saturday in Austin, Texas when he stopped by our Rock Room. “I knew by listening to his music. I could figure he was into the attitude, at least, of the Animals and was carrying that kind of attitude on,” said Burdon.
When he first heard about Springsteen’s kind words, Burdon was in a studio session with Brendan Benson to record a medley of the Animals’ “When I Was Young” and “Inside Looking Out” for an as-yet-undetermined project. “My phone was going berserk,” he said. ” So when I finished doing a cut, we immediately got on the Twitter and reached Bruce. He got back to us immediately (and) said, ‘Come on over.’” That night at Springsteen’s SXSW show at the Moody Theater, Burdon joined the E Street Band onstage for a rousing rendition of “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” marking the first time they’d ever played it together.
Burdon said he was impressed by how much Animals knowledge Springsteen revealed in his speech, particularly when he poked fun at an old TV performance where Burdon was dressed in a suit, saying, “It was like putting a gorilla in a suit.” Noted Burdon, “For Bruce Springsteen to see my pain via a television clip from thousands of miles away – ‘That little guy in the suit, he couldn’t even move’ – it was amazing he had that perspective.”
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Burdon said he even took it in stride when Springsteen said that the Animals’ unattractiveness made them idols for artists like him. “He said we were the ugliest,” Burdon laughed. “That’s why we didn’t get any of the dames; that’s why Eric Clapton screwed everybody. We had all ugly guys to come to our shows, beards and tats. Eventually they brought their girlfriends, and they were sorry when they brought their girlfriends.”