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The Return Of The "Boss": Glorious Times For Bruce Springsteen

Published: Wed February 04, 2009  News Feed

The past few months have been quite busy for Bruce Springsteen, a.k.a The Boss: gig for Barack Obama, Super Bowl show, Golden Globe award, Oscar and Grammy nominations, and a well-received new album.

The Boss and...the boss.

The Boss...and the president: Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama

Bruce Springsteen is widely known for his brand of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics, and Americana sentiments centered around his native New Jersey.

Springsteen's recordings have tended to alternate between commercially accessible rock albums and somber folk-oriented works. Much of his status stems from the concerts and marathon shows in which he and the E Street Band present intense ballads, rousing anthems, and party rock and roll songs, amongst which he intersperses whimsical or deeply emotional stories.

His most famous albums, Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A., epitomize his penchant for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily life. He has gradually become identified with progressive politics. He is also noted for his support of various relief and rebuilding efforts in New Jersey and elsewhere, and for his response to the September 11, 2001, attacks, on which his album The Rising reflects.

He has earned numerous awards for his work, including eighteen Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes and an Academy Award, and continues to have a strong global fan base. He has sold more than 65 million albums in the United States and 120 million worldwide.

Barack Obama

Once again showing  his well-known political engagement, in April 2008 Springsteen announced his endorsement of U.S. Senator Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. In a video shot at an Ohio rally for Obama, Springsteen discussed the importance of "truth, transparency and integrity in government, the right of every American to have a job, a living wage, to be educated in a decent school, and a life filled with the dignity of work, the promise and the sanctity of home...But today those freedoms have been damaged and curtailed by eight years of a thoughtless, reckless and morally-adrift administration."

On 18th January 2009, Bruce joined other stars such as U2, Beyonce and Stevie Wonder for the "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC (the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” 45 years ago) to celebrate the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama.


Springsteen opened the event with a barnstorming rendition of “The Rising,” back by a gospel choir, after which Joe Biden outed himself as the biggest Bruce fan in the incoming administration: He shot up to offer a standing ovation before the rest of his box — wife Jill, and Barack and Michelle Obama — followed suit.

More recently, Bruce Springsteen joked that the concert he played for Barack Obama's inauguration was a "warm up" for playing the half-time show at the Super Bowl.

"It kind of was a good warm up for this," Springsteen joked after arriving in Florida for the game with the E Street Band. "That takes some of the pressure off, you know."

Super Bowl

Springsteen vowed to pack the bands' usual emotion and energy into their brief performance during the half-time. And so he did - his set on 1st February worked like a dream. In what has become a recent tradition in the States, Bruce Springsteen was yesterday the fifth veteran act in a row to be booked by the NFL for the allotted 12 minutes during half-time at the Super Bowl, following on from Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince and Tom Petty.

A Super Bowl gig is now regarded as one of the highest-profile gigs in music - Petty and Prince both saw big sales increases for their back catalogues after their hit-filled performances, and indeed Springsteen has already drawn criticism from observers, even fans, for maximising the exposure from the Super Bowl performance to promote the simultaneous release of his new album, Working on a Dream.

The album was announced last November and upon it's well-received release last month the album made it to the top of the charts of several countries, including the USA and the UK.


Bruce Springsteen has won dozens of awards during his career, and they just keep coming: At the Golden Globes ceremony last month, he won a 'Best Song' award for the theme-song of "The Wrestler" , the much-praised Mickey Rourke drama. It was his second Golden Globe award,  and made him a favorite to win the Oscar on 22nd February.

Before that, The Boss is up for two Grammy awards this weekend (Sunday 8th February). It seems Americans just love him as much as they always did...so the awards will just keep coming!

The Bruce Springsteen Gear Guide

Bruce at the Super Bowl

Bruce at the Super Bowl with his Fender Telecaster

Like the music he makes, as a guitarist Bruce Springsteen is a simple, no-nonsense musician. So, it's no surprise that as his main guitars Springsteen has chosen the true Fender workhorse of a guitar, the Telecaster, as well as its one-pickup earlier version, the Fender Esquire. Perfect for his clean, simple, all-American tone.

Bruce's vocal mike is an Onyx capsule with a Sony transmitter. He plays Hohner Marine Band harmonicas.

His main guitar is a 1953 Fender Esquire. Onstage he also uses Telecasters from '54, '58 and a new acquisition from '63 with a decal of a naked oriental woman on the back. That one was rented as a prop for a photo shoot in New York. Later on Bruce couldn't get it out of it his head, finally telling Kevin Buell, his guitar tech, "I don't know what it sounds like but it felt great." Unfortunately all Bruce knew about the guitar was that it was "a black Tele with a naked lady."

Bruce  Springsteen and a Telecaster - classic combo! Bruce and another Telecaster

Bruce Springsteen: a lasting affair with the Fender Telecaster - a true workhorse!

It was tracked through the photographer to the shop where it was rented, but it was already sold. Bruce bought it back from the guy who bought it. Bruce uses a Samson wireless system which passes through a Rockman SP-1OO sustaining preamp on its way to a single Marshall cabinet (with four 12s) which is miked with a Shure SM57 and a 341.

Bruce is almost apologetic about how simple his effects are. "l have a very fundamental set-up on the guitar. There's a loud button and a louder one and a louder one than that -- and that's it! The elaborate guitar setups are amazing! There's a wall! A rack of things that all do something. I'd like to know what all that stuff does but it's too late now. It allows you an enormous amount of control but I don't know if I have the patience to sit down and learn it."  (from "Musician" Magazine, No. 169, November 1992)

Bruce's three options are a Boogie Mark 2 for leads, a SansAmp, and a Boss DD-3 digital delay. Sitting under the stage, activated by hand by a tech on special occasions, are a Boss Turbo-Over- drive pedal (OD-2), a Boss BF-2 Flanger  and a Boss power supply and master switch (PSM-5).

According to a Bruce Springsteen fansite, some of the amps he uses or has used include a Fender Bassman, Vox AC-30 and a Fender Twin Reverb. On many recent live pics you can see a Fender Hot Rod Deville which is used by his guitarist Little Steven.

Other FX pedals Bruce Springsteen is supposed to have on his backstage-operated pedalboard: Boss SD-1, Boss CS-3, MXR Distortion III

Bruce Springsteen and his Takamine

As for his acoustic guitars: Bruce is never seen without a reliable Takamine, especially the Takamine EF341SC Dreadnought Cutaway (Black Gloss Finish) which is pretty much his trademark guitar now. He also often uses a black Kyser capo.

 To view all Bruce Springsteen gear available at Dolphin, please visit the Bruce Springsteen Artist Page

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