Jack Antonoff — the guitarist for Fun, frontman of Bleachers and co-writer/producer of Taylor Swift‘s “Out of the Woods” — grew up in a world defined by Born in the U.S.A. Not only is he a New Jersey native, he was only 3 months old when 34-year-old Springsteen‘s seventh album spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 beginning July 7, was eventually certified 15-times platinum by the RIAA, and tying Thriller‘s record for scoring seven top 10 Hot 100 singles.
“It has elements of everything that are important for an album,” says Antonoff, 30. “If you want to throw it on in your car and drive fast, it has that for you. If you want to cry in your bed, it has that, too. It’s an unbelievably personal and perfect album. It feels like we’re being spoken to directly, and Born in the U.S.A. is the first time I heard that in music. ‘Dancing in the Dark’ is a shining example of an artist doing something accessible but uncompromising. He found a way — and I think about this anytime I write — to have it sound like a diary entry but still be something you could shout in a bar. You have these big, giant songs that are extremely dark if you look deeper. Musically, there are these synth sounds layered on top of the classic Springsteen sound that are an amazing use of modern and classic elements. You don’t have to abandon your organic sound to be part of the wave of the future. Everyone is terrified of not being relevant, and it f–s up your artistic path. But he has never lost that. That’s what makes this album so inspiring. That’s what makes him so inspiring as an artist.” –As told to Joe Levy
A version of this article first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of Billboard.