No musician captures the heart of Americana quite like Bruce Springsteen does. It can be further argued that very few men in their 50's rock a pair of tight jeans quite like Bruce Springsteen does. What can I say? The Boss's talents are many, his creative failings, few. I can't think of another artist whose narrative songwriting holds such universal appeal. Listeners from all walks of life can relate to his restless musical protagonists as they plot escapes from Anytown, USA in pursuit of a uniquely American dream.
You just don't rise to the level of this beloved American cultural icon without learning a thing or two about creativity. In honor of Bruce and company'slatest jaunt around the US of A, here are a few things that make The Boss's creative process so boss:
- His best creative efforts are essentially Frankensteins. Springsteen is well known for his prolific writing process. As the late E Street Band member Clarence Clemons once said, "Bruce would write 5 songs to get 1 song." Springsteen himself explains further, "If something wasn't complete I just pulled out the parts I liked, like taking the parts you need from one car and you put it in the other car so that car runs." The lesson? The more material you create, the more material you have to mix and match until you find that magical combination. There's no such thing as too many ideas.
- He's not afraid to mix it up with collaborators who seem like his complete opposites. To many fans' surprise, Springsteen released an album with Tom Morello, veteran guitarist from the rap-metal outfit Rage Against the Machine. The two became fast friends and actively sought out common ground between their respective musical styles and interests. This kind of creative teamwork, built on mutual compromise, is known as induction. Give their album High Hopes a listen, and you'll see it's produced some amazing results.
- He plays through the crippling obstacle of self-doubt. Nobody's harder on Bruce than Bruce. Springsteen hated his album Born to Run. He didn't even want to release it -- that's how bad he thought it was. It's now considered one of the greatest albums of all time. What if he'd actually listened to that inner voice that said it sucked?
- He doesn't wait for magic to happen before taking action. The Boss said it best: "There's no right way, no pure way of doing it. There's just doing it." There's only so much thinking about process you can do. You'll fail 100% of the time if you don't take action. Sure, you might not write "Born in the U.S.A." every single time. Springsteen doesn't, either. But he always writes. So, too, should you.