Bruce Springsteen on new film, marriage and "trying to repair myself"

Bruce Springsteen on new film "Western Stars"

Bruce Springsteen transformed a more than 100-year-old barn into a concert hall — complete with a 30-piece orchestra for his new concert film, "Western Stars," which features his first collection of new music since 2012 and serves as a companion to his album by the same name. Ahead of the film's release, Springsteen sat down with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King for a wide-ranging conversation about the movie, his marriage and his career. 

  • Watch the extended conversation with Springsteen on our streaming network, CBSN, at 8 p.m. Friday.

"It doesn't quite have a genre," Springsteen said of the film he both co-directed and stars in. "Because it's a mixture of a performance film. But there's all these sort of meditative, interstitial pieces, where we made these little films in between each song that hopefully gives you a sense of deeper meaning of what they're about." 

Those moments between the music are where the singer-songwriter reveals more of himself. In the intro to the song "Tucson Train," Springsteen says: "I spent my 10,000 hours and then some learning my musical craft. But I've spent a lot more time than that, some 35 years, trying to learn how to let go of the destructive parts of my character."

"Western Stars" features Springsteen's first collection of new music since 2012. It is also a nod to the Hollywood Western with him in the title role. He describes the character as a fading film star.

"Now, are you talking in some way about yourself? Do you feel that about yourself? Or is this just a character?" King asked. 

Even Bruce Springsteen still struggles

"I hope not," he said. "I think every time you draw on a character, you draw on some part of yourself … you're using a lot of detail that has nothing to do with you or your life. But you are mining a variety of different emotional veins to make – that's what people perceive as authenticity today. It's not necessarily the details of your song. It's the authenticity of the emotional life of the song that you're delivering. So I always try to make that ring true."

The concert film was recorded at Springsteen's estate in New Jersey and features the singer like we've never heard before. It's country – but still undeniably Bruce.

"The audience wants you to do two things. They want you to surprise them and make them feel at home, simultaneously. And the better you can do those things at the same time, the further on down the road you get to go in your journey with your listeners, you know?"

He also calls "Western Stars" a love letter to Patti Scialfa. They got married in 1991 and have three children. She's also a singer and joins her husband on stage during the film.Their intimacy is apparent.

"We've been together for 30 years. That's a long – you've shared a lot. You know, Patti's been at the center of my life for the entire second half of my life ... and an enormous amount of guidance and inspiration and you know, I can't overstate it. You know, it's I've been lucky," he said.  

Citing a quote from the film, King said, "We're always trying to find somebody whose broken pieces fit with our broken pieces, and something whole emerges. That's beautifully said. What broken pieces are you working with still?"

"They're all over," he said, laughing. "You know, I think you can't have deep experience without error, mistakes, pain. That's all just a part of human existence. So what does art do and music? Music is – it's a repair shop. So I'm basically a repairman. And I'm trying to repair myself. If I do that well enough, I will help repair you while I'm doing it." 

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Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti Scialfa perform together in "Western Stars" "Western Stars"

Springsteen has been doing it for audiences around the globe the better part of the last half-century.  He regularly plays three-plus hours. And after all those years, performing is something he still enjoys.

"I feel the same way about it as I did when I was a kid. It's still this huge opportunity that you have every night. And when you look at it like that, no two nights are the same," said Springsteen. "You respect your audience. You're there to deliver your best on any given night. Some nights it's better than others. But there's never a night when it's not all we have."

It's the kind of work ethic you'd expect from the man known as "the boss" – a nickname that happened by accident.

"The band started it because I paid their paychecks. And that's how it started," he said. "Had nothing to do with anything grander than that. So, but it's followed me my whole way."