Tom Hanks got to act the part of interviewer on Friday at the Beacon Theater in New York, as part of the Tribeca Film Festival -- his interviewee was Bruce Springsteen.
Rolling Stone was there and picked out nine takeaway moments from the encounter:
- A functioning rock band is frequently a form of dictatorship -- Springsteen pointed to his early band Steel Mill, and said it didn't work and that when it ended, he decided to go out under his own name and practice what he calls "benevolent dictatorship."
- Springsteen's first album, Greetings From Asbury Park, was the product of a compromise with his label -- They wanted a folk record. He wanted to rock. They split the difference. He says, "Dylan and Van Morrison were big influences" at the time.
- Early on, Springsteen didn't understand the studio process -- He says they were all clueless and had a first-time engineer in Jimmy Iovine. "We just went in and made noises until it sounded right coming out of the speaker."
- Young artists must be willing to take risks -- "Your chances are really, really, really small. You've got to have the insane hunger, ego, ambition and desperation to take any chance, anything that comes your way to try to bust your doors down." He also revealed that he took a chance and didn't pay his taxes. He paid later, but by that time he could just about afford it.
- Film had a big impact on the making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -- He mentioned The Grapes of Wrath, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity.
- The River was written as an antidote to post-Watergate pessimism - "Watergate validated every crook's philosophy on the street. All I remember thinking was, 'I want to do something that was not that.'"
- Springsteen is ambivalent about "No Surrender" -- and Born in the U.S.A. more generally -- He says Steve van Zandt convinced him to do the song for the band and the fans, "but I was always a little frightened of it. And the whole record I always have mixed feelings about."
- Once you put music out, you can't control the way listeners interpret it -- They hear the beat, then the chorus, then, maybe, the lyrics.
- Pop music can't replace lived experience -- "At the end of the day, it's just your job. It's just your work. Life awaits you outside of those things."