‘The Boss’ Dispels Honest Image in ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Film

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway - Courtesy image
Bruce Springsteen on Broadway - Courtesy image

By DONNA BALANCIA

With the Netflix film Springsteen on Broadway, “The Boss” takes us on a joyous and emotional journey from his hometown to the bright lights of stardom and back again.

There’s no shortage of classic acoustic songs included in the 2.5-hour long journey to get to know Bruce Springsteen. Seeing the world through the eyes of one of the USA’s most popular songwriters is an engaging experience, worth seeing a few times. 

But fans should beware: What Springsteen reveals about himself may be disappointing.

The December release of Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix coincided with the end of the live run, which lasted 15 months. And it’s likely it was the Boss’s choice to limit the run, as he suggests in the show. 

Springsteen won’t be touring in 2019, so this will be the last chance to see him — as often as needed — until he’s done with his recording and other projects.

“I come from a boardwalk town where everything is tinged with just a bit of fraud. So am I,” Springsteen declares in the film. “Nineteen seventy two. I wasn’t any race car-drivin’ rebel. I wasn’t any corner street punk, I was a guitar player on the streets of Asbury Park.”

Bruce Springsteen – Photo by Peter Myers

‘Gritty Streets of New Jersey’

The admission of fraud is something of a shock to the blindly adoring Springsteen fans, who never questioned the authenticity or the gritty textures of Springsteen’s New Jersey-based ballads. His poems set to driving rock beats and swooning melodies conjure images of desirous longing to leave the trap that holds us all. He worked hard to be discovered on the Jersey Shore.

“I held four clean aces: I had youth, I had a decade of hardcore bar band experience already behind me, I had a great group of musicians and friends that really knew my playing style, and I had a magic trick,” he said. “… And like all good magic tricks it begins with a set up.”

Springsteen opens the show with “Growing Up,” the “set-up” song that provides the backbone for the entire presentation. 

“I’ve never held an honest job,” Springsteen said. “I’ve never done any hard labor. Never worked nine to five. Never worked five days a week until right now. … I don’t like it.

“I’ve never seen the inside of a factory and yet it’s all I’ve ever written about,” he said. “Standing before you is a man who has become wildly and absurdly successful writing about something of which he has had absolutely no personal experience. I made it all up. That’s how good I am.”

Springsteen overcame the challenges of growing up in “the boondocks,”  he says there was no cheerleaderish “Jersey Jersey Jersey Shore, Jersey almighty shit. I invented that.” He’s right. He did.

New York City was considered a million miles away from the Jersey Shore back in the 1970s and 1980s.  But whether Springsteen remembers or not, lots of New Yorkers crossed into the beyond to The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.,  to see his opening show of the Born To Run tour and also the closing show of the tour — same place. He is beloved far beyond the Tri-State area.

Bruce Springsteen – Courtesy image

‘Born To Run’ Away from Jersey

Springsteen said he just wanted to get out of Jersey so he could get some success. That came after he discovered that guitar lessons were “boring” at 7 years old and with hands too small to fit around the neck of the rented guitar he got. He had to give the guitar back, but not before putting on a backyard show for his neighbor kids. The kids “laughed at my silly ass,” he recalled.

But despite that disappointment, he knew it would not be the last time he would pick up a guitar. And he may have been Born To Run but all these years he finds he has a soft spot in his heart for home.

“I currently live 10 minutes from my home town,” he said. “Born to Come Back, who would have bought that shit? Nobody.”

Springsteen on Broadway Tracklist

Growin’ Up (introduction & song)
My Hometown (introduction & song)
My Father’s House (introduction & song)
The Wish (introduction & song)
Thunder Road (introduction & song)
The Promised Land (introduction & song)
Born In The U.S.A. (introduction & song)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (introduction & song)
Tougher Than The Rest (introduction & song) with Patti Scialfa
Brilliant Disguise (introduction & song) with Patti Scialfa
Long Time Coming (introduction & song)
The Ghost Of Tom Joad (introduction & song)
The Rising (song)
Dancing In The Dark (introduction & song)
Land Of Hope And Dreams (song)
Born To Run (introduction & song)

Springsteen on Broadway is available on Netflix.