10 Reasons Bruce Springsteen Was Born to Run Forever

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The Chairman of the Board and The Boss

The New Jersey Factor: With the Chairman of the Board and wives Barbara Sinatra and Patti Scialfa

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen performed at Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden, shortly before Seeger himself took the stage. After talking for a while about Seeger’s influence and importance, Springsteen took a moment to prepare the audience for what they were going to see.

“He’s gonna look an awful lot like your granddad who wears flannel shirts and funny hats,” said Springsteen. “He’s gonna look like your granddad if your granddad could kick your ass.”

With Springsteen having turned 67 on September 23,2016, it seems like a good time to take note of the fact that there is no current rock star more likely to still be kicking ass at 90. Some of his longtime fans are wondering, among themselves, if his current tour with the E Street Band – which ends September 14 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA – will be his last, at least on the arena/stadium scale. More, though, are debating when the next one will be.

Related: Springsteen’s new career-spanning compilation, Chapter and Verse

Here are 10 reasons why the eternally hard-working Bruce Springsteen will continue proving it all night for a long time to come.

10) The New Jersey factor. New Jersey musical icons have a history of having long careers: Think of Frank Sinatra, Les Paul, Frankie Valli, Dionne Warwick, Count Basie. When Springsteen was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2008, he said all New Jerseyans are “members of a confused but noble race … who bear the cruelness of the forever uncool” and have “a chip on the shoulders of those with forever something to prove.” If nothing else will keep him going, that will.

9) The mensch factor. If Springsteen quits, he doesn’t just let himself down. He lets down his band, his fans, and even the causes that he routinely supports at his concerts. By all accounts, he takes all of that very seriously.

8) Good genes. Springsteen’s mother, Adele, is 91 and still can be seen dancing at New Jersey-area Springsteen concerts.

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7) Springsteen’s manager weighs in. “We’ve never talked, not one sentence that I can recall, about ‘When does this stop?,’ ” Jon Landau said in an October 2016 Vanity Fair Springsteen profile tied in to the upcoming release of Bruce’s autobiography, Born to Run. Did you know Landau can play guitar?

Related: Best Classic Bands review of a Springsteen concert in Boston in 2016

6) The ties that bind. Springsteen’s daughter Jessica is a champion equestrian, and he has spent millions of dollars, over the years, buying horses for her and maintaining them on his large farm in Colts Neck, N.J. “Needless to say, retirement is nowhere in sight for me,” he said at a benefit for the United States Equestrian Team Foundation earlier this year. “I literally play for horse feed night after night.”

5) Sustained prolificacy in recent years. Since 2005, Springsteen has released not only six new studio albums, but also deluxe reissues of his landmark albums Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River. That’s a rate of productivity that’s almost unheard of in a rock star his age.

4) Commitment to physical fitness. Springsteen started working out seriously in the Born in the USA era—remember seeing those biceps for the first time?—and has never stopped. Recent paparazzi shots of him relaxing on the beach show he still has the body of a high school athlete.

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3) Lengthening of shows. Springsteen isn’t just still putting on sweaty, draining, marathon shows. He’s actually presenting longer shows than ever. In 2012, he set his personal record by playing for four hours and six minutes in Helsinki, Finland. But his longest U.S. shows all took place this August, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, since eclipsed by minutes at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA on September 8, 2016. That doesn’t sound like typical behavior of someone who’s thinking of retiring soon.

2) Versatility. Springsteen can, and has, performed smaller shows, solo, and has put together countless different versions of the E Street Band for different tours. If he ever needs to present a less physically demanding show, he should be confident, by now, that he can pull it off.

1) His career was built to last. “I was never a visionary like Dylan, I wasn’t a revolutionary, but I had the idea of a long arc: where you could take the job that I did and create this long emotional arc that found its own kind of richness,” he told The Guardian in 2010. “That’s why I think the band continues to improve. You can’t be afraid of getting old. Old is good, if you’re gathering in life. Our band is good at understanding that equation.”

Jay Lustig

Jay Lustig

Jay Lustig is a dinosaur fighting extinction. He spent 25 years at New Jersey's largest daily newspaper, The Star-Ledger, starting as a rock critic and eventually becoming the arts and entertainment editor. But then people stopped reading newspapers and the paper decided his salary was a burden it could no longer bear. So in 2014 he became a freelance writer and also created the web site NJArts.net, devoted to covering all the arts, throughout New Jersey. NJArts.net continues to take up most of his waking hours. Before working at The Star-Ledger he was a writer and editor at the Jersey-based weekly newspaper, East Coast Rocker (now The Aquarian). Some of his favorite interviews over the years include Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello and Donald Fagen.
Jay Lustig
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  1. Guy Smiley
    #1 Guy Smiley 5 March, 2017, 11:46

    Nice article… Too bad Bruce hasn’t had a truly great album since the 80s.

    I take that back. I loved the Seeger Sessions album, but Springsteen didn’t write any of those songs. Easily my favorite of his since the 80s, and I wish he’d kept working with that fabulous Sessions band (I find them much fresher than the E Streeters now).

    Wrecking Ball is a pretty good album, when one leaves off the song with the rapping on it. I wouldn’t call it “great,” but it’s quite good. So was the American Beauty EP.

    The Rising gets a lot of hype, but it’s too long and overstuffed with (IMO) a number of bland songs.

    Springsteen has a number of really good songs over the past couple of decades — “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” “Youngstown,” “Long Time Comin’,” “American Skin,” “Land of Hopes and Dreams,” “This Hard Land,” “Girls In Their Summer Clothes,” all come to mind. But he rarely excites me anymore, and no truly great albums in that time.

    And though he still brings it live, with amazing energy and stamina, some of his more repetitive tropes — like that “Viagra takin’, history makin’ E! Street! Band!” monologue he ALWAYS does now — need to be put to rest.

    Props to him for speaking out about Trump though. He’s always put his politics and belief in working folks out there in his songs, and it’s great that he means it.

    A shame the people he sings about can’t afford to see him in concert now — while the rich folks who keep thw working folks down are in the good seats — but that’s a problem that plagues the entire concert industry.

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