10 Reasons 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, born September 23, 1949. “He’s gonna look like your granddad if your granddad could kick your ass.”

And he always seems to be popping up everywhere: in one week in 2017, he was at a Paul McCartney’s concert at MSG, and a few days later, he joined Jackson Browne and Little Steven onstage.

Some of his longtime fans were wondering, among themselves, if his massive 2017 tour with the E Street Band would be his last, at least on the arena/stadium scale. In 2022, we got the word that there would be at least one more. It began in 2023, with dates already scheduled in 2024.

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, turned 98 in 2023 and in her 90s could still 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 release of Bruce’s autobiography, Born to Run. Did you know Landau can play guitar?

Related: Our review of a 2016 Springsteen concert

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 in 2016. “I literally play for horse feed night after night.”

5) Sustained recording prolificacy in recent years. Springsteen continues to regularly release 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. Paparazzi shots of him relaxing on the beach show he still has the body of a high school athlete.

3) Lengthening of shows. Springsteen isn’t just still putting on sweaty, draining, marathon shows. In recent years 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 in 2016, first that 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, such as his extended Springsteen on Broadway run from 2017-2018, reprising it in 2021, 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

2 Comments so far

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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.

    Reply this comment
    • Gagdad Bob
      Gagdad Bob 23 September, 2020, 16:09

      Except the working class overwhelmingly supports President Trump and his policies (e.g., eliminating the downward pressure on wages due to illegal immigration), whereas the Democrat party supports the views of wealthy white leftists such as Springsteen (e.g., eliminating high-wage jobs in the petroleum industry).

      Reply this comment

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