Bruce Springsteen’s Strategy To Avoid Bob Dylan Comparisons
The iconic rock performer Bruce Springsteen quickly found a place in the music world with his poetic lyrics and highly energetic music. His first two albums failed to achieve mainstream popularity, but his third studio album, ‘Born to Run,’ finally attracted the attention of a larger audience and paved the way for his upcoming massive success.
On the other hand, Bob Dylan reached the height of his career during the ’60s and redefined the vocalist’s role in popular music. He is best known for his great songwriting skills and lyrics, which embodied various social, political, literary, and philosophical influences. Dylan made his breakthrough with his second studio album, ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,‘ which brought national and international fame. The album was a crucial step in his musical journey as it showed his strong songwriting skills for the first time.
As stated above, both Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan stand out as great songwriters, which is why they have been subjected to many comparisons. Although Springsteen had said that his style is entirely different from Dylan’s, and thus, there is no rivalry between them, this didn’t prevent critics and fans from comparing the two musicians. It seems like it is hard for both figures to avoid the comparisons, but Springsteen managed to find an interesting exit strategy.
What Did Bruce Springsteen Do To Avoid Bob Dylan Comparisons?
In a previous appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the host asked Bruce Springsteen about the different tones of the songs in his 2020 album, ‘Letter to You.’ The album featured three tracks, named ‘If I Was the Priest,’ ‘Janey Needs a Shooter’ and ‘Song for Orphans,’ originally written before his debut album. The host stated that these three songs sound different from the rest of the album and asked how Springsteen’s songwriting has changed ever since.
The singer replied by saying that he often takes something from who he was at each age. Bruce Springsteen explained that if we think of personal growth as a car, there are different selves in one car and who’s at the wheel is the most important thing when it comes to the songwriting process. He can quickly go back to those moments while writing and find something new in each of them.
The 72-year-old rocker stressed that the lyrics that he wrote at a young age were entertaining, and he really likes that writing style, but he doesn’t write like that anymore. Bruce Springsteen admitted that he wishes he had written more in that style. However, he was aware of the comparisons between him and Bob Dylan, so he thought he could escape them by changing his songwriting style.
Bruce believes that he had his own version of the Dylanesque style, but he still wanted to avoid the comparisons. However, as time went by, Springsteen seemed to have made peace with these comments as he returned to these songs in his latest album, and recording them gave him so much pleasure.
Here is how Bruce Springsteen revealed his strategy to avoid Bob Dylan comparisons:
“All of the yous are in one car. As you get older, you add another one. You add the you that’s 60, and you add the you that’s 70. You have the you that’s 30 in the car. You have the you that’s 24 years old, and all those folks are in the car that you’re driving. A lot of it depends, of course, at any given moment, on who’s at the wheel. Consequently, I can pull up different parts of my internal life and my internal history.
I can go to those moments and find something in common with that voice. It’s a bit of a time trip. It connects from that moment and lays a bond through all those years to who you are right now. I could go back to songs that I wrote when I was 22 years old, and I could find a voice to sing them in at 70.
They were a lot of fun because I don’t write lyrics like that anymore, and I love that writing style, and I wish I hadn’t abandoned it so soon, but I was very self-conscious about the Dylan comparisons, so I moved away from it rather quickly.
Looking back on it, I kind of have my own Dylanesque style that was a lot of fun, really uninhibited, really kind of opening the dam and letting the words spill out. That had a lot of joy and a lot of fun and a reasonable amount of depth in it, so those songs were fun to go back to and to record on this record.”
You can watch the entire conversation on the show below.