Stevie Van Zandt Discusses Bruce Springsteen’s Vision For E Street Band

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Stevie Van Zandt recently made an appearance on The Ghostwriting Podcast and talked about the vision Bruce Springsteen had while embarking on a career with his E Street Band.

Bruce Springsteen is a prominent figure in the rock music scene. He is among the originators of the heartland rock style that combines mainstream rock with narrative songs about working-class American life. Springsteen has released twenty studio albums throughout his music career, many of them feature his E Street Band.

Springsteen formed the E Street Band in October 1972. After several changes in the lineup, Stevie Van Zandt joined the band in July 1975. With Van Zandt’s addition and the release of ‘Born To Run,’ E Street Band made a significant commercial breakthrough. Currently, they are continuing their entertaining shows, which sometimes last up to four hours in length.

In a recent interview with The Ghostwriting Podcast, Stevie Van Zandt talked about Bruce Springsteen’s leadership in E Street Band. He stated that being under Springsteen’s leadership makes things easier as the democracy within a band is a little more complicated. Moreover, Van Zandt also talked about Springsteen’s vision for the band.

At first, Van Zandt didn’t understand it because he was coming from the traditional rock and roll, which sees the keyboard as not an important instrument. He said Springsteen had a theatricality in his mind that is especially seen in the ‘Born To Run’ album. Van Zandt admitted this took him a long time to wrap his head around, but it eventually worked out for them.

In the interview on The Ghostwriting Podcast, Stevie Van Zandt said the following:

It’s always easier when it’s that kind of thing, where it’s a leader, where it’s one guy picking things, even though in the end it does turn into a band. It’s always a little more difficult when it’s more with democracy. In those cases, it’s hit and miss; a little bit more luck is involved, circumstances, and a whole other set of criteria are involved.

I think in E Street Band’s case, Bruce had a vision. As I say in the book, I didn’t really get it at first. I didn’t get what he was going after at first because I’m coming from traditional rock and roll where the keyboard is not an important instrument.”

He then continued:

Bruce also had a theatricality in mind. It took me a long time to understand that part of the new modern evolution of rock which was coming in the early 70s. I didn’t relate to it at first. I didn’t relate to David Bowie, KISS, Alice Cooper, or the more theatrical dimension that they were introducing.

‘It’s no longer a personal and autobiographical art form. We’re now doing something else. We are doing something theatrical with it. We have emotional distance.’ I was like, ‘This is completely repulsive to me. This is destroying the art form. Bruce had a little bit of that, most reflected in the ‘Born To Run’ album.”

According to Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen had a somewhat different vision in his mind when forming E Street Band that has the same essence as artists like KISS, Alice Cooper, and David Bowie. Moreover, due to his traditional rock and roll roots, the guitarist wasn’t accustomed to Springsteen’s ideas about theatricality as well.