“There’s no replacing Clarence. You gotta do something else.”
Clarence had mentioned he had a sax-playing nephew, Jake Clemons. Springsteen turned to him to resolve the band’s identity crisis.
Mason asked, “When you finally saw it working, was it a relief?”
“Oh, yeah. Are you kidding? It was like the weight of the world off my shoulders, you know?”
But Springsteen faced an even greater challenge as he entered his sixties: A crippling attack of depression that he’d battle with the help of his wife and E Street Band member, Patti Scialfa.
“It lasted for a long time -- it would last for a year and then it would slip away. Then it would come back for a year-and-a-half,” he said.
“Do you see it coming? Do you feel it coming?”
“Not really, you know? It sneaks up on you. It’s like this thing that engulfs you. I got to where I didn’t want to get out of bed, you know? And you’re not behaving well at home and you’re tough on everybody. Hopefully not the kids. I always try to hide it from the kids. But you know, Patti really had to work with me through it. And her strength and the love she had was very important as far as guiding me through it. She said, ‘Well, you’re gonna be okay. Maybe not today or tomorrow!” he laughed. “But it’s gonna be all right.”
“You still function with it?”
“For some reason, it never affected my work or any of my playing,” he replied. “It was something, if I was dead down, when I came in the studio, I could work.”
Baby, I’ve been down, but never this down.
I’ve been lost, but never this lost.
This is my confession.
I need your heart
In this depression
I need your heart.
“This Depression,” from the 2012 album, “Wrecking Ball”
Springsteen, who wrote about it in the song “This Depression,” finally got through it with therapy and medication:
Springsteen’s late father also suffered from mental illness, and much of Springsteen’s book is his attempt to write a new ending to their relationship:
“Yeah, my Dad was very important in it, ‘cause I felt I hadn’t been completely fair to him in my music,” Springsteen said.
“How did you feel you were unfair?”
“I think I left an image of him as sort of this very domineering character, which he could be at different times. And he could be frightening. But he was also much, much more. He had a much more complicated life.”
Springsteen describes an unannounced visit his father made to see him just days before the first of his three children was born.
Mason asked, “What did he say to you?”
“You’re gonna get me now, man!” Springsteen laughed. “He showed up at my door. It was early in the morning and I think he said, ‘Hey, you know, you’ve been really good to us.” I said, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘I wasn’t so good to you.’ And I said, ‘Well, you did the best you could, you know?’ And that was it. That was the only recognition I needed of our history.”
“It was a little thing, but it was everything?”
“It was a small thing, but it was everything. It changed our relationship immediately. It was just a lovely gift. It was a lovely epilogue to our relationship, you know? It really was.”
The relationship Bruce Springsteen has with his fans is deep and enduring.
“I’m still in love with playing,” he said. “And my attitude at this point in my life is, this is what I love to do. I wanna do as much of it as I can.”
Again and again on this tour, he played. -- around four hours every night.
“You could play for just two-and-a-half hours, you know?” Mason said.
“I suppose I could!” he laughed, then reconsidered. “Nah.”
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