He was as surprised as anybody.
"I woke up one morning, and I had a record," Springsteen joked about his new album, "The Rising," due in stores July 30.
"The Rising" will be Springsteen's first studio rock album since 1992, and his first effort with the full E Street Band since 1984. He worked with a new producer, Brendan O'Brien of Pearl Jam fame, and credited his collaborator with speeding the recording process.
Springsteen, who performed at several post-Sept. 11 benefits, said he wrote all but two of the 15 new songs on the album after the terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.
"The songs I wrote sort of occur in that context," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's more of an emotional feeling that I felt - and that I felt was in the air at that time."
Some songs, he said, "deal more directly with it than others, but the stories all happen in a post-Sept. 11 context. If you were writing at that point, it's in everything in some fashion."
"My City of Ruins," which Springsteen performed on the national telethon for Sept. 11 victims, will appear. "Further On (Up the Road)," an unreleased track that Springsteen has performed live, also is included on the album, to be released on Columbia.
Other song titles include "Into the Fire," "You're Missing," "Empty Sky" and "The Fuse."
The 52-year-old singer raved about the work of his longtime sidekicks, the E Street Band.
"It's a very powerful sound, just the intensity I wanted to capture doing anything with the band again," he said. "The guys are playing better than they did 15 years ago. There's a confidence."
Springsteen said the sessions were somewhat similar to their 1975 work on the classic "Born To Run," with the band playing live in the studio for the basic track and other parts added later.
"The sound is very recognizable and very different," Springsteen said. "If you have all of our other records, you don't have this one. We picked up the level of intensity. I can't wait for people to hear this record."
By Larry McShane