The triumphs of Bruce Springsteen have been shouted from the rooftops many times over, but the latest issue of The New Yorker brings something new to the table. The 15,000-word profile by the venerable magazine’s editor-in-chief, David Remnick, is one of the most comprehensive pieces of writing on The Boss to date.
In it, Remnick spends time across the globe with Springsteen and his bandmates, personnel, wife and friends. There are glimpses into the rock legend’s home, even. Reading it from start to finish will take you a decent amount of time, so we’ve compiled a few choice cuts from the piece, which really does warrant a read if you’re a Springsteen fan in the slightest. Behold, the five biggest revelations from The New Yorker‘s Bruce Springsteen feature, many of which deal with drug usage, or Springsteen’s lackthereof.
1. Springsteen has battled depression and suicidal thoughts, and has seen a therapist since 1982.
Bruce’s longtime friend and biographer, Dave Marsh, claimed he went through a very dark period in the ’80s while making his acclaimed Nebraska album. “He was feeling suicidal,” Marsh said. “The depression wasn’t shocking, per se. He was on a rocket ride, from nothing to something, and now you are getting your ass kissed day and night. You might start to have some inner conflicts about your real self-worth.” Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa, added that it was only through therapy that he was able to achieve family man status.
2. Springsteen has never taken drugs, ever.
Sidekick/E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt is quoted as calling Springsteen “the only guy I know — I think the only guy I know at all — who never did drugs.” Springsteen admits, “my issues weren’t as obvious as drugs.” Considering Springsteen’s looks and stamina at age 62, it’s no wonder he’s never done drugs.
3. Springsteen’s longtime manager, former rock critic Jon Landau, recently underwent major brain surgery and lost vision in one eye.
Landau said of Bruce: “He knew I was going through something, and I thought I was going to die. It wasn’t rational, but the fear was there… We shared a lot of deep talk.”
4. Springsteen still sends his first drummer extra royalty money.
Drummer Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez started making music with Springsteen back in his early Asbury Park days, but was kicked out of the E Street Band for violence after the second Springsteen album – just before they made it big. Still, Springsteen sends him a money from those first two albums, extra royalties he’s not owed. “He does it out of the goodness of his heart,” Lopez said.
5. Springsteen’s father also suffered from depression and didn’t speak much, but appreciated his son’s songs that were about him.
The New Yorker story reads:
In biographies and clippings, Doug Springsteen is described with adjectives like “taciturn” and “disappointed.” In fact, he seems to have been bipolar, and he was capable of terrible rages, often aimed at his son. Doctors prescribed drugs for his illness, but Doug didn’t always take them. The mediator in the house, the source of optimism and survival, and the steadiest earner, was Bruce’s mother, Adele, who worked as a legal secretary. Still, Bruce was deeply affected by his father’s paralyzing depressions, and worried that he would not escape the thread of mental instability that ran through his family. That fear, he says, is why he never did drugs. Doug Springsteen lives in his son’s songs. In “Independence Day,” the son must escape his father’s house because “we were just too much of the same kind.” In the ferocious “Adam Raised a Cain,” the father “walks these empty rooms / looking for something to blame / You inherit the sins / You inherit the flames.” The songs were a way of talking to the silent father.
“My dad was very nonverbal — you couldn’t really have a conversation with him. I had to make my peace with that, but I had to have a conversation with him, because I needed to have one. It ain’t the best way to go about it, but that was the only way I could, so I did, and eventually he did respond. He might not have liked the songs, but I think he liked that they existed. It meant that he mattered. He’d get asked, ‘What are your favorite songs?’ And he’d say, ‘The ones that are about me.’ ”
– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local