Springsteen gives SXSW fans lesson in making music

Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:21pm EDT
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By Corrie MacLaggan

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen told young musicians on Thursday that in this new age of digital music in which he can carry all the songs he's ever loved on a player in his pocket, two things haven't changed: inspiration and the power of creativity.

In a keynote address at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival here, the "Born to Run" singer took the audience on a journey through his musical history. In doing so, he gave the up-and-coming musicians in the audience a lesson in how other artists might inspire their own music, just as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and others inspired him.

The Boss said his musical "genesis moment" came in 1956, when Elvis appeared on TV's "The Ed Sullivan Show" and showed a passion that inspired a young Springsteen to try out the guitar.

"I realized a white man could make magic," Springsteen said.

For those in the audience who were among the more than 2,000 acts that will play at SXSW, Springsteen encouraged them to open their ears and their hearts to the vast array of artists at the festival and added, "when you walk onstage tonight to bring the noise, treat it like it's all we have, and then remember, it's only rock ‘n' roll," Springsteen said.

Springsteen, whose new album, "Wrecking Ball," debuted this week at No. 1 on U.S. record charts and in 13 other countries - his fifth No. 1 debut in the past decade - made a surprise appearance at the Austin Music Awards Wednesday night and was to give a concert on Thursday evening as part of SXSW.

On Thursday afternoon, he spoke of how his world was shaped by the doo-wop music his mother played on the radio in the kitchen as he ate breakfast. Doo-wop, he said, was "the sound of raw sex, of silk stockings rustling on backseat upholstery, the sound of the snaps of bras popping across the U.S.A."

As he eased into his teen years, along came 1960s pop music and the heartbreaking songs of Roy Orbison, who "seemed to take joy in sticking his knife deep into the hot belly of your teenage insecurities."   Continued...

Bruce Springsteen plays the guitar as he delivers the keynote address at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas in this publicity handout photo released to Reuters March 15, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Birzer/SXSW/Handout