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The relationship between Bruce Springsteen and his fans is one of the most intimate and personal love stories in rock and roll.
Arriving in theaters this week, the documentary film Springsteen and I is the ultimate fan letter to the New Jersey-born superstar.
Approximately 2,000 Springsteen fanatics participated in a crowd-sourcing request by sending in videos of themselves discussing their musical hero and what he means to them. While many summed up their support by using three words that they thought best describe Springsteen, others told heartfelt stories about the musician and how his songs impacted their lives.
Each segment, edited by credited director Baillie Walsh and produced by Ridley Scott, is interspersed with concert footage from the current Wrecking Ball tour, as well as older videos of Springsteen from earlier jaunts with the E Street Band. The film also features footage taken by fans themselves, including one particular street busker who luckily got to jam with Springsteen, er, out in the street (to paraphrase one of the man’s song titles).
Many moments tug at the viewer’s heartstrings. One man says listening to Springsteen’s songs is akin to flipping through someone’s personal photo album, and he then bursts into tears. There is one couple who cannot afford to see a show. While the wife owns a vintage Springsteen shirt, they admit they never had money to buy a ticket to see the man in concert and film themselves dancing in the dark of their kitchen. Then there is the factory worker from England who took a holiday to New York City for a show, only to discover he had the worst seats in the house. He was then upgraded by Springsteen’s famed “man in black,” who strolls through venues offering fans the ultimate prize: front row seats!
There are also some weird sections. One woman admits to maybe psychologically messing up her son by holding up a picture of Springsteen and repeating the word, “Daddy,” several times. Another mom says her kids know that only CDs by Bruce are allowed in her car with one exception — a Patti Scialfa record earned a spot because she is Springsteen’s wife.
Audiences this week will also be able to see bonus live footage shot in London, including Springsteen jamming with Sir Paul McCartney before the power was cruelly cut. An epilogue at the end ties the whole package together in a neat little bow when fans from the film get to meet their hero in person, with some warm hugs and funny comments from Springsteen that will give people a better sense of how he is when he puts down the guitar. Those are sweet moments, and it never gets old hearing him talk about music and how it shaped his life. It’s also nice to see that as an artist his connection to his fans is just as important a lifeline for him as it is for them.
The movie premieres Monday and again on July 30 in select theaters.
Here are our top five favorite moments in the film:
5) A Danish man named John filmed himself at night in the same stadium he saw Springsteen as a boy on The Tunnel of Love Express tour. He was 9, and recorded the whole show on cassette tapes on “an old Walkman.” He still keeps the tapes in a box and remembers the experience fondly as a good night in his life.
4) A husband from England agreed to be filmed by his Springsteen-worshipping wife and says that Springsteen to him means love for her paramour as she forces him to go to the shows that he feels are way too long. He even begs Springsteen on camera to “please shorten your concerts.”
3) A fan from Hamilton, Ontario, uses a Springsteen concert to get over his ex-girlfriend, holding up a sign at the show that tells everyone in the stadium that he had been dumped. This sign amuses Springsteen, who uses the moment to dis every ex-girlfriend that ever dumped him. “They’re sorry now,” he cracks. “They missed out on that record company advance money.” He then calls the poor guy up to the stage for a hug.
2) Springsteen finally gets his moment to jam onstage with Elvis Presley –sort of. At a Philadelphia show, Elvis impersonator Nick Ferraro wins the ultimate prize — an invitation to sing “All Shook Up” in his fat Elvis costume. All goes well until he calls on Bruce for a guitar solo and realizes there is no guitar solo in the song. Lucky for him the E Street Band is versatile, and they switch to “Blue Suede Shoes.”
1) No Springsteen concert would be complete without someone living out their Courteney Cox fantasies, and one girl does just that, holding up a sign that says, “I’ll Be Your Courteney Cox.” Before she knew it, she was “Dancing in the Dark” with The Boss!
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