This week, Esquire published an in-depth interview with music great Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen is just ending his Broadway stint, where he shared music, thoughts, and soul with his audience for just over a year. Always a thoughtful musician, the “Born to Run” rocker delved into his own past, his mental health, and his idea of what it means to be a “good man.”
His father takes up a lot of his past, and while Springsteen seems to have made his peace long ago, there are definite overtones of a childhood that scarred him. His father, later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, is characterized by Springsteen as a shadowy figure in the kitchen. “But you had to deal with it. So the kitchen became freighted with meaning and danger. It was a dark, quiet place.”
But it isn’t his father who gives meaning to Springsteen’s idea of a good man; rather it is his kind, compassionate mother, to whom Springsteen felt a closer connection, and his wife Patti Scialfa, that he attributes his ability to be a good father.
My mother was kind and compassionate and very considerate of others’ feelings. She trod through the world with purpose, but softly, lightly. All those were the things that aligned with my own spirit.” And of Scialfa: “By her intelligence and love she showed me that our family was a sign of strength, that we were formidable and could take on and enjoy much of the world.
When asked to define the qualities that make up a good man, Springsteen said, “I do have two good men. And I would say their qualities are, they’re sensitive. They’re respectful of others. They are not locked into a 1950s sensibility of manhood, which I had to contend with. Consequently, their attitudes toward women and the world are free of those archetypes, and that frees them to be who they are and have deeper and more meaningful relationships. They know themselves pretty well, which is something I can’t say for myself when I was that age. They know—and can show—love. And they know what to do with their problems. I think they have a sense of process as to how to work on themselves, which is something that I certainly didn’t have at twenty-five. These are the things that I’m proud of my boys for. They are quite different from my generation.”
Bruce Springsteen on Broadway will be premiering on Netflix December 16th.
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Photo: Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash