Bruce Springsteen. The Boss. This man’s musical talent, experience and sheer determination has undoubtedly touched many people’s lives. He has influenced many artists and, above all else, makes you dance, laugh and cry along to his music. This isn’t the first look into this man’s life and creative processes we have had. Much like Western Stars, Letter to You another sweet nugget of this man’s storytelling through his music and this one guys, is for us.
With never seen before behind the scenes footage, director Thom Zimny beautifully captures The E Street Band in all their glory giving us a true insight into the live, 4 day recording of the album Letter to You. Immediately, a somber tone is set. We are mainly in black and white here but such a stylistic choice only compliments the passion, love and friendship that emerges from the screen, you don’t need colours to see how this band have been together for nearly fifty years.
As the deep, calming octave of Bruce’s voice narrates this documentary, he affirms his appreciation of music delving into how writing and performing acts as being in conversation with the world, himself and those around him. If you think back to Born in the USA, it isn’t exactly singing the praises of the stars and stripes is it; Letter to You is an extenuation of those expressions, the deep experiences that transcend simply recording a track. It’s the relationship, the understanding that he has had for this band and of course, personal experiences. At times, this is self-indulgent and lingering voice overs may grate occasionally, albeit this isn’t about his own experiences, it is how they have created music for 45 years through understanding and flexibility, the efficiency and ultimately luck, despite all the hard work.
Whilst some of these new songs featured in this don’t carry the same weight as his early work, there is no doubt this man still loves the whole process, and for a 71-year-old the boom that still comes from this man is pretty impressive. For any Bruce fan goosebumps and spine chills will undoubtedly consume you as music plays, whilst fascination surfaces when seeing how they record their music. Facts that will utterly surprise you pop up at every turn; his influences all the way from his first ever band The Castiles, right up until this very moment. It’s hard to fathom that such a man was ‘towered in insecurities’ as we see montages of him giving it his all on stage, confidence dripping from him.
This is so beautifully done that the images are undeniably worthy of watching, yet you could simply close your eyes and listen to the educational, thought provoking narrative and the recording of album and still get immense enjoyment out of it. Those who aren’t familiar with his work, might get find something new but this is very much made for die-hard fans and those with a desire to gain a deeper understanding into how this man has been doing this for the last 50 years and still absolutely loves it.
Whilst this is deeply engaging and a fascinating insight into this legends creative process, the melancholy closing note here feels terribly like a farewell, the end of the road…if you were already a fan this will make you want to blare Glory Days through your headphones immediately to lift your spirits. On one hand, this will leave you glowing, brimming with dreams burning inside and on the other thoughts stray to everything has to come to an end eventually, even Bruce, one day. A bittersweet watch that is both insightful and energetic.
Catch Letters to You on Apple TV plus, Friday 23rd October.