Bruce Springsteen's Vanity Fair Cover: 5 Big Takeaways, From His Next Album to Mental Illness Struggles

Bruce Springsteen
Antonio Rossi

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s long-brewing autobiography Born to Run will finally hit stores Sept. 27. By now, Springsteen fans are well aware. So with the release date less than a month away, we’ve gotten an even deeper dive on what lies within its pages.

The big scoop comes through a new Bruce interview -- the latest Vanity Fair cover story. Through speaking with David Kamp (with photography by Annie Leibovitz) the Boss opened up about his family history, the true meaning behind “Born to Run” (the song, that is), his struggles with mental illness, his next studio album and much more.

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His Next Album Is Completely Finished…

…It’s just unknown when we’ll hear it. The so-far-untitled LP has ben done for over a year, but Springsteen has instead spent his 2016 touring and working towards the release of his book. Here’s how Springsteen described its sound (via an excerpt from the interview text):

“It’s a solo record, more of a singer-songwriter kind of record,” he said. Intriguingly, though, it does not follow in the spare, acoustic tradition of such previous solo albums as Nebraska, The Ghost of Tom Joad, and Devils & Dust. Rather, it’s inspired by a recent immersion in the 60s collaborations of the songwriter Jimmy Webb and the singer Glen Campbell, “pop records with a lot of strings and instrumentation,” he said. “So the record is somewhat in that vein.”

Bruce and the E Street Band Aren’t Even Thinking of Calling It Quits

They recently played their longest U.S. concert yet, and even in their golden years (Bruce turns 67 Sept. 23) they’re not slowing down. “We’ve never talked, not one sentence that I can recall, about ‘When does this stop?,’” Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau said. Devotees can expect many multi-hour stadium shows still to come. 

Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

Bruce Has Struggled With Depression, Even Recently

Springsteen came from the sort of blue collar, working class background where machismo is championed, and topics like depression and anxiety are often shunned. But as his life went on, he became very open about discussing these issues and how he sought help for them. Speaking to Vanity Fair, he says he was “crushed between sixty and sixty-two, good for a year and out again from sixty-three to sixty-four.” His 2012 album Wrecking Ball came out of these times, as Springsteen notes the song “This Depression” was a pretty big hint. 

He often leans on his wife Patti Scialfa when the blues hit and she’s usually the one who gets him to a doctor. “Patti will observe a freight train bearing down, loaded with nitroglycerin and running quickly out of track,” Springsteen said. She adds, “If I’m being honest, I’m not completely comfortable with that part of the book, but that’s O.K.” 

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Bruce’s Tumultuous Relationship With His Father 

Much of Born to Run explores Bruce’s complex relationship with his late father, Doug. The elder Springsteen came from a family afflicted with undiagnosed mental illnesses, and his own demons often prevented him from giving young Bruce proper affection. 

“Can I get sick enough to where I become a lot more like my father than I thought I might?” Bruce wonders, explaining his present day anxieties. In one of the feature’s most tear-jerking moments, Springsteen describes his father’s struggle to say the words “I love you,” even later on in life.

The Deep Meaning of “Born to Run” (The Song)

The interview connects the lyrics of Bruce’s breakthrough hit to his relationship with his parents. 

“We can live with the sadness / I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul,” reflects the pact between Bruce’s emotionally distant father and his outgoing, warmer mother. Eventually Doug moved the family from New Jersey to California (Bruce and his younger sister were old enough to stay behind) and that too could be referenced in the lyrics: “We’re gonna get to that place / Where we really want to go / And we’ll walk in the sun.”

But is it literally about his parents? “I wouldn’t go that far,” Springsteen says; however, the similarities are certainly there.