Bruce Springsteen Channels Soul Music’s Icons on ‘Only the Strong Survive’

today9 de diciembre de 2022 35

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Bruce Springsteen has a lot of fans. He’s referred to as a legend, an icon, the biggest rock star alive right now. So maybe that’s why it’s so much fun to hear him turn into the fan on his 21st studio album, Only the Strong Survive.

The album is a collection of covers Springsteen recorded of some of his favorite soul and R&B songs by artists like Jerry Butler, Commodores and the Four Tops. In this session, Springsteen talks about why he wanted to honor these artists and what it was like singing with Sam Moore of Sam & Dave.

Raina Douris: It sounds like you were having so much fun on this record.

Bruce Springsteen: Yeah, the pressure of having to write everything wasn’t there — that’s always the toughest thing when it comes to recording, you know? And also the pressure of really the production and playing on it on every song. I removed all of that and I said, ‘I’m going to make a record where I just sing and I focus all my energies on the vocals.’ That was something I’d never done, and it was a lot of fun to do. I just had a great time doing it.

«Only the Strong Survive» and «Hey, Western Union Man» are both originally from the same Jerry Butler album, The Iceman Cometh, which was recorded in Philly at Sigma Sound in 1968. That’s the only album that you chose two songs from. Why did that album have such an impact?

I got into Jerry Butler late, you know, and really on this record. John Landau was my manager and an executive producer. He suggested «Hey Western Union Man,» which I’d never heard. I listened to it and said, ‘Well, it’s kind of complicated,’ but I gave it a shot. You know, ended up being a lot of fun.

Originally, the record was called Soul Days, and from then, I changed the title to Nightshift. I said, ‘Now, the record should be titled Night Shift, right?’ And then somewhere in there I said, «Only the Strong Survive.» Maybe I’ll cut «Only the Strong Survive» for the next volume of something like this. And I said, ‘Gee, that’s a great title. We should cut it now.’ So I went in. It was the last thing we cut, and that ended up being our title. I ended up being a huge Jerry Butler fan. I’ve already cut several other of the songs from that album.

You mentioned that you just wanted to sing on this record. Why was soul and R&B the right genre for you to focus on singing?

The greatest vocal music, for me, is gospel music. There’s just a freedom, spirituality and intensity in gospel music that you find watered down in other places. Then soul, of course all those frontmen came from the church, which is why it was a unique place in time. Those singers will never come again. It was just a culturally unique moment.

You have Sam Moore coming out of the church. You have Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers coming out of the church. Of course, Aretha. So that was just a natural place. I said, ‘I want to go where the great singers are.’ Well, the great singers are in soul music, for one place, and my attitude was like, ‘These are songs that should be a part of the American Songbook — like Gershwin and Cole Porter.’ These songs stand the test of time. They are 50 years old already. They’re still great.

Source: NPR


Escrito por Mariola Rubilar

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