Out today (October 26th) is Bruce Springsteen and President Barack Obama‘s first joint book, Renegades: Born In The USA. Britain’s The Guardian posted excerpts from the tome in which Springsteen talks candidly about the long shadow his late-father, a manic-depressive, Doug Springsteen cast over his life.
Springsteen recalled in the book, “I always remember him complaining that if he hadn’t had a family he would’ve been able to take a certain job and go on the road. It was a missed opportunity. . . So we felt guilt. And that was my entire picture of masculinity until I was way into my 30’s, when I began to sort it out myself because I couldn’t establish and hold a relationship. . . I just couldn’t find a life with the information that he’d left me, and I was trying to over and over again.”
He went on to explain how the negative emotions he felt from his father began to shape him: “The thing that happens is: when we can’t get the love we want from the parent we want it from, how do you create the intimacy you need? I can’t get to him and I can’t have him. I’ll be him. That’s what I’ll do. . . . I’m on stage. I’m in workmen’s clothes. I’ve never worked a job in my life. My dad was a beefy, bulky guy. I’ve played freaking guitar my whole life, but I’ve got 20 or 30 extra pounds on me from hitting the gym. Where’d that come from? Why do I spend hours lifting up and putting down heavy things for no particular reason? My entire body of work, everything that I’ve cared about, everything that I’ve written about, draws from his life story.”
Springsteen explained that he entered into “hardcore analysis” when he was 32 and had some time to figure things out until marriage and fatherhood came to him: “I don’t have my children until I’m 40, so I’m eight years into looking into a lot of these things, because what I found out about that archetype was it was f***ing destructive in my life. It drove away people I cared about. It kept me from knowing my true self. And I (realized): ‘Well, if you wanna follow this road, go ahead. But you’re going to end up on your own, my friend. And if you want to invite some people into your life, you better learn how to do that.'”
While writing his critically acclaimed 2012 biography Bruce, author Peter Ames Carlin spoke with Bruce Springsteen about his own battles with depression and use of anti-depressants: “Well, he had spoken about therapy, I mean, he’s talked about therapy on stage, he’s talked about it in interviews before, so that wasn’t exactly a secret. It’s a bit of a private zone, but he’s willing to talk about it to some degree. And we were talking about depression, and then there was a tragedy in his group of people, his group of friends out here, where a friend who had been depressed on and off for years, actually committed suicide, and he was. . . I happened to be with him the day that that happened or the day that he heard about it and he was so visibly shaken and disturbed by that and, y’know, it was like suddenly he became a different person.”