Don Henley’s Doubts About Bruce Springsteen
Don Henley, like most rockers, started out with a different band before joining the Eagles. The act, Shiloh, wasn’t as much a commercial success as the ever-iconic Eagles, but still, Henley did his best as a young drummer and songwriter trying to make it in the rock scene.
However, when Don accepted the failure of his band and moved on by joining the Eagles, it wasn’t like the rocker started to shine right away. We might know Henley as a celebrated songwriter now, but in his early days with the Eagles, he wasn’t exactly the best songwriter of his time, as he also admitted once.
Still, as Henley proved himself and credited Glenn Frey for musically influencing him and giving him a chance for his songwriting, he wasn’t as enthusiastic about giving a chance to another rocker. As it urns out, there was a time when Don Henley had his doubts about Bruce Springsteen’s abilities as a songwriter.
When he made his debut, Springsteen probably went through an issue experienced by many young musicians. His good looks were credited for his commercial success, and similarly to Peter Frampton and Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen struggled with the critics’ and their peers’ prejudices against him. So, Bruce tried to prove himself even more by showing off his songwriting.
In all honesty, he didn’t need to try much, as one can’t fake being an artist. So, as his compositions and music became more and more popular with quality lyrics, Bob Seger saw how talented Springsteen was. Don Henley, however, wasn’t as optimistic. In fact, Bob recalled the Eagles icon’s prejudices against Bruce during an interview with Louder Sound in 2018.
“Yes, later,” answered Seger as he discussed whether Bruce Springsteen had influenced his songwriting. “What I really gleaned from Bruce was passion, just tremendous passion in his lyrics. You also get that from Henley and Dylan too. Bruce is a great writer. Back then, Henley was a little unsure about Bruce, and we’re friends.”
Bob then talked about how he changed Don’s view of Springsteen by mentioning lyrics from Bruce’s track, ‘Jungleland.’ Seger recalled, “I said, ‘Well, listen to this line, ‘They’ll meet ’neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light.’ And Henley said, ‘Okay, I’ll buy the album.’ I tell him the one line, and he goes out and buys ‘Born To Run.’”
So, when Don Henley had his prejudices against Bruce’s songwriting abilities, Seger mentioned the poetic lyrics from Springsteen’s ‘Jungleland.’ They seem to have changed Henley’s negative views on the rocker as the Eagles icon went on to buy ‘Born To Run’ and perhaps enjoyed a good ol’ Springsteen binge.