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Q&A with Bruce Springsteen : Boss: A Man and His Family : Springsteen Finds Balance and Grammys

March 06, 1995|ROBERT HILBURN | TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC

Three days after winning four Grammys for his AIDS-related "Streets of Philadelphia," Bruce Springsteen was back at work Saturday--making a video for "Secret Garden," a new song on his just-released "greatest hits" album.

The plan was for him to talk about his new songs and recent reunion with the E Street Band in an interview during a lunch break at the video shoot in a large, old house on the edge of Hancock Park.

But that was scrapped as Springsteen's three young children, ages 1 to 4, arrived. His attention turned immediately and totally to them. He led his two sons and daughter around the set, then into a trailer to talk about their day.

It was a revealing side of one of the pop world's most famous, yet private men.

For much of his career, the 45-year-old New Jersey native wrote about the struggle to achieve your dreams, often questioning whether you could find a love that was real or the reassuring comfort of family and friends.

Now a father and married to singer Patti Scialfa, Springsteen has found the answers. This change is one reason that "Streets of Philadelphia" is such a heartbreaking portrait of the ravages of AIDS. Springsteen knows how much there is to lose from the death of a loved one.

During a second break in the video shoot, he returned to the trailer and spoke candidly about his music, the E Street Band and, mostly, about fatherhood and the changes in his personal life.

Question: Are you able to spend a lot of time with your kids?

Answer: Sure, I've only toured eight months in the past five years (laughs). I'm probably around the house a lot more than most dads because I don't work 9 to 5. We do the normal things . . . eat together, play, go places.

Q: When they showed up today, did you turn yourself over to them because it was rewarding to you, or do you just want to show them how much they mean to you?

A: I remember when I was a kid and my dad was working the night shift in a plastics factory in Freehold and he forgot his lunch at home. My mother brought me down to give it to him, and I remember all the noise and the activity. Another time, he was a truck driver for a while and he took me on one of his routes. I helped him unload the truck. Those were like the greatest days for me.

Q: So you want to share some of that spirit with them?

A: Well, I don't know what their whole take is on what I'm doing with the cameras and all. It'd probably be more fun for them if I was driving a truck and they could ride around with me. But I think children enjoy being given access to the adult world. They want access not only to your home life, but they want some sense of your work life . . . just knowing what it is.

Q: You used to talk about giving 100% of yourself to your music and wondered if you could ever find time for relationships and children. What have you discovered?

A: I've found that giving 100% to your job isn't the same as giving 100% of your life to your job. Very often when I thought I was giving 100% of my life to my job, I was simply obsessing over something. I think that changes as you get older because you want more out of life. You've got your kids and your wife and your overall family becomes more important. You see your parents differently. Hopefully, one of the things you learn as part of your craft is how to focus your abilities and your energy into a shorter span of time.

Q: As you became more successful and content, did you fear losing touch with the rebel, underdog perspective that was so much a part of your musical vision?

A: To me, those basic underdog emotions or whatever are part of your core being. I'm not sure it's true that something gets lost as you gain other things in life. I believe when your children are born, for instance, that you are reborn in some fashion. When we had our first child, we went out and everything was different . . . the sun was different, the sky was different. I think it thrusts you in a certain direction . . . and makes you want to lead a more purposeful life in some fashion.

Q: What was it like getting back together with the E Street Band? Was there any tension? Most people probably assume there were some hurt feelings on the band's part when you decided you wanted to work with other musicians a few years ago?

A: I assume that's true, but we had such a long, deep relationship. It's similar to like members of your family. Your relationship goes up and down a bit, but generally I've had good relations with all the guys over all the years. Everybody has kind of seen each other's best and worst sides and done things that aggravate or don't aggravate someone else.

Q: Let's talk about the E Street Band. A lot of your fans just couldn't accept the fact during the last tour that you were on stage with other musicians. What were your feelings about the tour?

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