The band Bruce Springsteen always wanted to sound like

Only a handful of bands can match up to the raw power of Bruce Springsteen. Although he has an electric presence whenever he takes the stage, Springsteen’s power has always come from how he works off the different members of the E Street Band, almost like his lead instrument is getting the most out of every single player on the stage. Though ‘The Boss’ has made many brilliant records with every member of his group, there is one band that he hoped they would measure up to.

When putting together the band in the beginning, Springsteen was looking to make an act that was reminiscent of the kind of rock and roll that he loved as a kid. Even though his early records were sprinkled with brilliant stories and clever wordplay reminiscent of Bob Dylan, Springsteen has said that his story couldn’t have been told without the E Street Band, bringing his songs a heightened sense of drama that would have felt hollow otherwise.

As the group made their magnum opus, Born to Run, though, Springsteen was known to become ruthless when working with the band. During the sessions, Springsteen inherited the nickname ‘The Boss’, creating a massive work ethic that made the group into seasoned veterans with every performance.

Although the likes of Phil Spector and Roy Orbison remained some of Springsteen’s childhood heroes, another heartland rocker was crafting songs that Springsteen wished he could have claimed. While Springsteen was making lavish tales from New Jersey, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were making the Southern counterpart, crafting brilliant tunes about living the simple lifestyle.

Despite Petty’s reputation as a rock and roller, Springsteen paid attention to the textures they were getting out of their records. Recording with Springsteen’s producer Jimmy Iovine, Damn the Torpedoes would become one of Petty’s seminal recordings, featuring walls of guitars and pianos stacked on top of one another on tracks like ‘Here Comes My Girl’ and ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’.

When talking about Petty’s music, Springsteen was blown away by the blend of instruments in every song, telling Rolling Stone, “It was a guitar band, something I envied very much. Because when we tried to push the guitars in the E Street Band, it never quite worked for us, but they were a real guitar band. The music was beautifully written and beautifully constructed. He had an ear to the classics. But Tom’s attitude and personality, his vision, gave it a modern edge”.

Even though Springsteen and Petty approached music from a similar perspective, each had carved out their sound in rock music. While Petty’s records may have benefited from the sounds of roaring guitars, Springsteen got his melodrama from the sounds of the Jersey boardwalk, whether that was the icy chords coming from Roy Bittan’s piano or the unique saxophone lines from Clarence Clemons.

While Springsteen was in awe of Petty’s work, Petty was paying attention right back, making the song ‘Tweeter and the Monkey Man’ with The Travelling Wilburys as an ode to Springsteen’s writing. ‘The Boss’ would never be dethroned on the East Coast, but that signature guitar sound is something he’s still chasing after.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *