Bruce Springsteen on Human Connection

The Boss talks about his rambling roots

Content Tools

“I remember when my parents moved out to California—I was about 18. My folks decided that they were going to leave New Jersey, but they had no idea really where to go. I had a girlfriend at the time and she was sort of a hippie. She was the only person we knew who’d ever been to California. She’d been to Sausalito and suggested they go there. You can just imagine—Sausalito in the late ‘60s! So they went to Sausalito, 3,000 miles across the country, and they probably had only three grand that they’d saved and that had to get them a place to live, and they had to go out and find work. So they got to Sausalito and realized this wasn’t it. My mother said they went to a gas station and she asked the guy there, ‘Where do people like us live?’—that’s a question that sounds like the title of a Raymond Carver story!—and the guy told her, ‘Oh, you live on the peninsula.’ And that was what they did. They drove down south of San Francisco and they’ve been there ever since. My father was 42 at the time—it’s funny to think that he was probably seven or eight years younger than I am now. It was a big trip, took a lot of nerve, a lot of courage, having grown up in my little town in New Jersey.

“But that story leads back to those same questions: How do you create the kind of home you want to live in? How do you create the kind of society you want to live in? What part do you play in doing that? To me, those things are all connected, but those connections are hard to make. The pace of the modern world, industrialization, post-industrialization have all made human connection very difficult to maintain and sustain. To bring that modern situation alive—how we live now, our hang-ups and choices—that’s what music and film and art are about. That’s the service you’re providing, that’s the function you’re providing as an artist.”—Bruce Springsteen, in an interview with Will Percy

From DoubleTake (Spring 1998). Subscriptions: $32/yr. (4 issues) from Box 56070, Boulder, CO 80322.