Bruce Springsteen chatted with Rolling Stone about his career, which this year marks his 40th anniversary with signing to Columbia Records. Springsteen, who's currently still on the road in Europe, spoke about the expanded E Street Band carrying on following the 2011 death of Clarence Clemons, explaining, "What are the odds that Clarence's brother had a son that played the sax, that traveled with Clarence on the road . . . Jake (Clemons) allowed us to deal with Clarence's legacy, to deal with death as it plays upon you. You get to remember and rebuild."
He shed some light on the latest massive version of the E Street Band, which now includes a full horn section, a percussionist, and two background singers: "The Seeger Sessions Band -- I incorporated some of the things from that. Then when Clarence passed away, we were fortunate that Jake was there. And I have not toured with a horn section since the late-'80s. So it was, 'Let's give that a try.' There is a range of expression over the course of a night that divides, very specifically, this band from previous E Street Bands. It's a real re-thinking of what the band is."
Springsteen touched on the so-called "New Dylan" tag he fought hard to live down upon signing with Columbia, and talked about how he was initially grouped in with the other early-70s "New Dylans" -- Elliot Murphy, Loudon Wainwright III, and John Prine. Springsteen explained that there was a distinct difference between what he and the competition did: "I was the wolf in sheep's clothing. Because I had spent eight or nine years in that hard-core bar-band experience, before I signed a contract. I played in front of every conceivable audience you could face: an all-black audience, all-white, firemen's fairs, policemen's balls, in front of supermarkets, bar mitzvahs, weddings, drive-in theaters. I'd seen it all before I ever walked into a recording studio."
Bruce Springsteen is one of the few rock performers to seemingly never have a bad night onstage. He was asked if this is something that came naturally, or was it something he perfected over the years on the road: "Just in the bars, in the groups, y'know, where you had to play for, y'know, drunken audiences, that weren't necessarily that interested in listening to you, so you had to win the audience all the time. (Laughs) You always had to win the audience. For the first eight years of your career -- with the exception of when you played locally -- you played unheard."
Guitarist Nils Lofgren told us that despite the loss of Clarence Clemons, the horn parts are alive and well on E Street and the band is thriving from performing with the new players: "We did a big tour (for) Tunnel Of Love, 'had a great horn section we used a lot. So, it hearkens back to those days. It's a really powerful tool and, y'know, between Bruce, of course, who's a master bandleader and Steve (Van Zandt), who always did a lot of work with horns and helped arrange them, and of course, five great horn players, they're putting' together parts. . . and they'll evolve as always. Everybody's parts evolve through the tour. That's the beautiful thing about this band."
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performs on Saturday (June 22nd) in Nijmegen, Netherlands.