Here's the top Springsteen story of 2021, according to Blogness readers
For a guy who turned 72 in the middle of a pandemic, Bruce Springsteen had a 2021 that would be the envy of most artists — from a Broadway curtain call to some high-profile public appearances, a celebrated sit-down with an ex-prez, and more guest shots than you can shake a stick at.
It’s enough to flummox even the most seasoned Bruce-watcher, but Blogness readers were up for it. We asked what Springsteen stories ranked as the top, most significant ones of 2021, and almost 700 responses later, we have our list. Let’s count down the top 10:
10) Bruce’s guest appearances with other artists
For a guy without his own new album, Bruce Springsteen certainly popped up on the record charts (or at least the streaming services) quite a bit — for a little while it seemed like he was everywhere, singing or playing along with Bleachers, The Killers, John Mellencamp, Tom Morello and Dion. Twenty-six readers had Bruce’s extracurricular appearances on their list of top stories, good enough for 10th place.
9) Jessica Springsteen competes in the Olympics
It was another Springsteen in the spotlight this time around, although Bruce and Patti were certainly sharing in the glory (days) as they cheered her on. Jessica and the U.S. equestrian jumping team took home a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so apparently that million-dollar horse paid off. Jessica’s achievement took ninth place with 28 votes.
8) The lame drunk-driving arrest (and eventual exoneration)
You know it, I know it, the American people know it: This was one bogus citation. And the judge agreed, dismissing the charges a month later. But it made headlines when it happened (particularly in the NY Post, blagh), so 29 readers picked it as a top Springsteen story, landing it in eight place.
7) The Super Bowl Jeep commercial
Bruce appearing in a commercial of any kind — even one that didn’t actually mention the product he was supposedly endorsing — caused something of a brouhaha among fans and detractors alike. He did look cool in it though. The ad got 37 votes for seventh place.
6) Bruce sings at Celebrating America at the Capitol for Biden inaugural
Springsteen’s austere performance of “Land of Hope and Dreams” at the Lincoln Memorial, just weeks after the Capitol erupted into violence on Jan. 6, offered a welcome injection of, well, hope (and dreams?) in these troubled times. Also, Tom Hanks was there! With votes from 41 readers, this one finished in sixth.
5) Bruce performs at the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in New York City
Looking dapper and earnest in his dark suit, Springsteen came full circle from his pioneering 9/11 album “The Rising” by paying his respects at this 20th anniversary celebration — and helped cement “I’ll See You In My Dreams” as his new hymn to healing for the next generation. Fifty-six Blogness readers picked this one, edging it into the top 5.
4) “Springsteen on Broadway” returns
When the curtain closed on the initial run of “Springsteen on Broadway” in December of 2018, it was widely assumed that was that. But as the coronavirus seemed to be winding down this past summer, Bruce & Co. decided a return engagement would be just what Broadway needed to shake off its pandemic doldrums — with some notable updates to boot. (Then delta and omicron happened, but we’ll talk about that some other time.) The return of SOB got 69 votes for fourth place.
3) Release of the “No Nukes” video and album
An official new Bruce Springsteen release is always news, and Thom Zimny’s expert assemblage of footage from both nights of the classic “No Nukes” concert proved a revelation for anyone not lucky enough to see the E Street Band up close in its heyday. (Even if Bruce had declared himself officially “over the hill” at 30.) “No Nukes” got 70 mentions to edge out Springsteen on Broadway for third.
2) “Renegades: Born in the USA” podcast with Barack Obama
If there was one thing nobody saw coming, it was this multi-part Spotify podcast with The Boss and The Prez (the former former guy). Some critics thought it was a bit much to have two rich dudes sitting around yapping for six hours, but it seems most fans of both Springsteen and President Obama enjoyed hearing them hash out their similarities and differences, and their philosophies on life, love and the good old U.S. of A. A total of 86 Blogness readers picked the podcast, making it No. 2 on the list of top Bruce stories. (Worth noting that the collaboration also spurred a bestselling book, whose release got another 23 votes on its own.)
1) Bruce sells his catalog for $500 million
The exact amount hasn’t been disclosed, but everyone seems to agree that this deal between Springsteen and Sony was worth an easy half-a-billion bucks, which is a nice, round number. No doubt a good decision for himself and his family — freeing Evan, Jessica and Sam from the eventual wrangling and headaches that seem to have plagued the Prince and Tom Petty estates — it probably won’t affect us fans too much. (Although future generations might be more likely to hear “Crush on You” in commercials for orange soda.) Blogness readers are clearly fascinated by the move, though, with 107 naming it among the top Springsteen stories of 2021 for an easy first place.
Outside the top 10, readers mentioned:
Bruce performs his only electric set of the year at the John Henry's Friends Benefit in NYC (20 votes — watch below)
New episodes of “From My Home to Yours” (16)
Bruce interviews Stevie to promote Stevie's memoir, "Unrequited Infatuations" (15)
Jon Landau settles (?) the “sways” vs. “waves” debate (14)
Bruce performs at “Stand Up for Heroes”(8)
Bruce gets rained out of Patti Smith duet at The Homecoming Concert in Central Park (5)
Springsteen Grammy Museum exhibit opens in Newark (2)
So what does 2022 hold then? Any number of options are on the table, with a new album supposedly already in the can, Tracks 2 burning a hole in Bruce’s pocket, and of course the much-discussed 2022 tour that supposedly had dates set before omicron hit.
If there’s anything we know from the past few years, it's that you never know what to expect. But we’ll go out on a limb and predict another big year for Bruce Springsteen. (And for his fans, natch — whatever that means, you'll read it here first when it happens!)