Hard-working Springsteen "exactly where I want to be"

Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:41pm EST
 
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By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - It's a cool, crisp November evening in Nashville, and yes, Bruce Springsteen knows exactly where he is.

It's a few days after Springsteen committed what he called "every frontman's nightmare" by confusing Michigan with Ohio during an onstage call-out. But if Springsteen gets mixed up occasionally as to which city or state he's about to rock, it's understandable.

Springsteen and his E Street Band have been on a global tour since 2007, through two album cycles, performances at the Super Bowl and presidential inauguration and first-time appearances at several major festivals. Even for an artist who has largely built his career on epic shows, Springsteen and the E Streeters have shifted into a higher gear.

Springsteen has been unusually prolific in the studio as well, releasing albums of new material in 2007 ("Magic") and this year ("Working on a Dream"). At the same time, he's acknowledging his beloved albums of the past by playing full sets of classic recordings in concert. On this night in Nashville his 1975 breakthrough album, "Born to Run," will get the live treatment, to stunning effect.

"This last year, in my point of view, was as great a year as we've ever had," longtime Springsteen manager Jon Landau says backstage at Nashville's Sommet Center. "It's fair to say I've never spent a year with him where he's just been so consistently enthusiastic, energetic. And Bruce is one of those guys who leads by example. When you're working with him, if you're a collaborator, a manager or in the band, you can't be doing less than 1,000 percent. You wouldn't like yourself if you didn't dig as deep as he's digging."

Springsteen is indeed digging deep, but in his dressing room before the show, he laughs it off. "We were talking about it the other day -- we said, 'I don't know if we've been this busy since 1985, or ever,'" he says. "It's just the way things worked out. Some of those things we planned and some of them just happened."

Four nights before this marathon trek is set to end in Buffalo, N.Y., Springsteen isn't fatigued, but excited about his future and that of the E Street Band. What the Boss is most concerned about is his pending show, during which he repeatedly assures the ecstatic crowd that he knows he's in Nashville, Tenn. -- and is thrilled to be there.

Billboard: The last couple of years for you have been pretty exceptional in terms of productivity, both live and in the studio.   Continued...

 
<p>Musician Bruce Springsteen walks on stage to perform in a benefit concert for 'Autism Speaks' in New York, November 17, 2009. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri</p>