"I come from a boardwalk town where almost everything is tinged with a bit of fraud. So am I."
A book's opening lines always tell a lot about its writer, and Bruce Springsteen goes with a mix of self-deprecation and self-mythology in the opening salvo of his memoir, Born to Run. On the cover, he's perched atop the driver's side headlamp of a 1960 Corvette, a mop of Dylanesque hair floating above his head, lips parted just so. It could just as easily be a shot of 1978 New Jersey or 2016 Brooklyn.
Springsteen's always aimed to be timeless, to transcend the trappings of his environs. Of the beloved song for which the book is named, he recently told CBS Sunday Morning: "I was trying to make the greatest record you'd ever heard. A record that, after you heard it, you didn't have to hear another record."
David Remnick of The New Yorker memorably referred to Bruce Springsteen in a 2012 profile as "dispiritingly handsome, preposterously fit," when he was already 63 years old. Those seemingly eternal good looks, while certainly making him easy on the eyes, are perhaps best taken as visual evidence of how improbably long the man has been able to remain vital and relevant.
Springsteen's been playing in front of live audiences in one fashion or another for more than 50 years, and over the decades, he's gained more than a few musician acolytes.
So with today's release of his new memoir, Born to Run, we look at a few of the most notable bands inspired by Springsteen.
It was Bono himself, U2's lead singer, who inducted Bruce into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. In his speech, he called Springsteen his hero, describing him with a litany of flowery language over the course of several minutes. "More than a boss," Bono said, "he's the owner, because more than anyone else, Bruce Springsteen owns America's heart." And, as evidenced best on their multi-platinum smash, The Joshua Tree, Bono and Co. have long been able to take basic human emotion and play it in the key of transcendent stadium rock, something they certainly must have learned a bit about from their idol.
2. The Killers
After bursting on the scene in 2004 with their first album, Hot Fuss, the Las Vegas quartet took a moment to rework their glammy vibe, subsequently telling the press that their follow-up record would have more than a touch of Springsteen to it. Talking to MTV, lead singer Brandon Flowers noted that "Springsteen touches on the American dream, and that's everybody's dream…. I don't think it's about getting rich; it's the idea of working hard and having your castle in the sky."
3. Kurt Vile
Vile has been noted for having a hint of Springsteen to him, and he's even covered one of the Boss's hits, "Downbound Train." Springsteen's influence on Vile isn't strictly sonic, but also an inherently American vibe. Vile, after all, hails from Philadelphia, a mere 80 miles and change from Springsteen's birthplace of Long Branch, NJ. There's a dreamy, classic sound they both tap into, and the resonant feeling one gets is that they're both dedicating themselves to mining fundamentally American experiences.
4. Arcade Fire
The 700-or-so-member Montreal outfit has channeled the soaring, anthemic nature of Springsteen's biggest hits in songs like "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Keep the Car Running", and have even taken to covering "Born in the U.S.A." lately. And, like Springsteen, the band has taken to committing themselves to causes outside of music, whether it be on the issue of supporting fair trade markets, or helping low-income families in Haiti.