Issue Of The Day: the return of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The man they call The Boss turned 71 last month, but a new album and documentary prove the years have not diminished him in the slightest.

What’s the album called?

Letter To You. It’s Springsteen’s twentieth studio album but his first with the famous E Street Band in over half a decade. Containing 12 tracks, three of which are re-worked version of previously unreleased songs from the early 1970s, it was released last Friday and has been met with instant critical acclaim in most quarters. Themes include ageing, friendship, mortality and, of course, a love of music for the sense of connection and solace it can provide in dark times.

What’s so good about it?

Well the presence of the E Street Band – members include Nils Lofgren, Garry Tallent and Steve Van Zandt – always makes a Springsteen album a bit special, as does reworked versions of earlier songs. But the album’s genesis has a bearing too: inspired in part by the death of an old bandmate, in part by the gift of an acoustic guitar from a fan, it was recorded in just four days at Springsteen’s home.

And the documentary?

Also titled Letter To You, it was filmed at the same time and shows The Boss and his bandmates in the process of recording the album and features performances of 10 of the songs on it. It’s shot in gritty black and white, of course, narrated by Springsteen and dedicated to the You of the title – the fans and music lovers who have sustained the legendary rocker across his long and storied career. It’s available to view on Apple TV.

Will it swing the US election Joe Biden’s way?

Springsteen is known to be a staunch Democrat with a strong political voice, and it’s true he hasn’t been shy in criticising Donald Trump and the Alt-Right over the last four years. But despite being released just days before the US Presidential election, Letter To You isn’t overtly political. That said, Springsteen did tell an Australian newspaper recently that if Trump wins the election he is going to move to Australia, inspiring the NME headline ‘Melbourne To Run?’.

Any other revelations?

The music of smoky-voiced pop chanteuse Lana Del Rey doesn’t seem like the sort of thing The Boss would kick back with in his down time. But in an interview with US chat show host Stephen Colbert last week he revealed that he has been listening to her most recent album more than anything else. “I just love her writing,” he told Colbert. “It’s cinematic. Her album’s great.”