Why does everyone want Bruce Springsteen to get a new job?
Bruce Springsteen, as most of us are well aware, is a rock ’n’ roll musician -- a “rock star,” if you will. Dare I say he’s even pretty good at it: You know the story, he came on the scene more than 40 years ago, yadda yadda yadda, he’s an American icon. And yet, every so often someone comes along and wants him to change careers. HOW MUCH MORE CAN WE ASK OF THIS MAN?
The latest is the Washington Post, which asks, “Forget rock star -- was Bruce Springsteen born to be a filmmaker?” Now granted, the “Western Stars” movie, which he co-directed with Thom Zimny (and which had its New York premiere Wednesday), is getting good buzz, and their previous co-directing effort, the video for “Hunter of Invisible Game,” boasted an impressively moody post-apocalyptic atmosphere, and Bruce wearing glasses, which was new. But “forget rock star” seems like a bit of an overreach.
Granted, that headline (which actually appeared on WaPo’s social media, not the article itself), was probably a little bit facetious. The piece, a terrific longform interview by writer Ann Hornaday, is more about Springsteen’s love affair with cinema than it is about striking out into a new vocation. Still, the thought of “Bruce Springsteen, Filmmaker” is admittedly intriguing, as were some of the other alternative career paths people have suggested for him over the years. Notably:
Bruce Springsteen, Senator.
Back during the Bush Era, when many people thought things in Washington couldn’t get any worse -- !!! -- someone got it in his head that the cure to our political ills was to get Bruce Springsteen out of hockey arenas and onto the campaign trail.
A coalition calling itself "The Independence for New Jersey" launched a petition drive yesterday (May 14) to get the 800 signatures of registered voters required by June 4 to place Springsteen on the ballot. It's not that simple though, officials said. Springsteen would have to sign on to consent to becoming a candidate. His publicist did not return a call seeking comment.
SPOILER ALERT: He didn’t do it.
Bruce Springsteen, Actor.
Long before people started picturing Bruce Springsteen in the director’s chair (complete with beanie and megaphone, probably), there were those who imagined him on the silver screen. The Washington Post story mentions that he was considered for the film version of “Hair” -- who knew? -- and of course he made a memorable 53-second appearance as himself in 2000's “High Fidelity” with John Cusack.
His first real acting appearance, though, would probably be as Giuseppe “Joey the Undertaker” Tagliano in Steven Van Zandt’s Netflix gangster series, “Lillyhammer.” I couldn’t find any video, but take my word for it when I say, he was not good. Best to leave the acting to Stevie.
Bruce Springsteen, Writer of Fiction.
We all know now that Springsteen is a talented memoirist, although given the number of personal stories he’s woven from the stage over the years, we shouldn’t have been surprised. But “Born to Run” (the book) aside, there’s been a steady drumbeat of literary types who’ve been after Bruce to try his hand at fiction.
Literary Hub even went so far, in 2016, as to imagine what a Bruce Springsteen story collection might look like, and was so convincing that people apparently went searching for it on Amazon. (People probably should have realized it was phony when Lit Hub claimed it won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which would be a stretch, even for Bruce. Guy can’t even get himself an Emmy.)
I guess the fact that so many can imagine Bruce excelling at so many different endeavors speaks to how well he’s done as a musician and songwriter -- if he’s been able to speak to us so profoundly in that medium, imagine what he could do as a (politician, film star, novelist or whatever). But while it’s fun to do just that and imagine it (the thought of President Springsteen has occurred to me, I’ll admit), it’s probably best for all involved if Bruce continues doing what he does best, for as long as he can do it.
And fortunately, according to the Washington Post piece, he seems to agree:
“I was thinking, ‘How do I sum up my experience to this point?’ ” he says. “The book, the play and this film, they all serve that purpose. It kind of cleanses the palate and it will allow me to move on to whatever we do next.”
The “we” in that sentence is the E Street Band and “next” is recording a new batch of songs he wrote for them earlier this year. Springsteen doesn’t see another movie in his immediate future, unless it’s the four-minute kind he’s been making all along.
Now that, I can get behind.