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Glory Days

Friends of the Boss share their most intimate insights.

Bonnie Raitt

Singer-Songwriter

Raitt shared the stage with Springsteen for the No Nukes concert in 1979 and the 2004 Vote for Change tour.

"It was an incredible boost when Bruce committed to joining the No Nukes concerts. From the groundbreaking Amnesty International tour, to helping stop Contra aid in the '80s, to a steady stream of benefits, I don't know if any other American artist has made as profound a difference. I think he taps into the promise of who we want to be. In a world where persona is so carefully calculated, Bruce is the real deal. And people love him for it."

Donna Summer

Disco Goddess

Springsteen wrote "Protection" for Summer's 1982 LP Donna Summer.

"My producer, Quincy Jones, called and said, 'I got a song for you called "Protection." Bruce is going to come over.' My husband, Bruce Sudano, just loved Bruce's music, so I had gotten very into it as well. When Bruce came into my house, he played the song. We sang it. He told me to make it my own.

"Bruce was humble. I think he always sees himself as a kid from Jersey. Then, when he's onstage, once he flips that switch, boy, it's like a tornado roars through there. You can tell by his words, you can tell by the rasp in his voice, that he's been through something, and behind that quiet there's a storm brewing.

"When Bruce Springsteen performs, you're getting a workingman. That grit tells you you don't get that way from nothing. You get that way from abuse, use, work, getting through things. When people see him onstage, they relate and align themselves with him, no matter where he goes in life, because he started in a place they all understand."

Nils Lofgren

Guitarist

Lofgren has played with the E Street Band since 1984 (and offers online lessons through the Nils Lofgren Guitar School).

"When I joined the E Street Band, I moved into Bruce's house in New Jersey to get ready for the Born in the U.S.A. tour. He suggested we wake up and go for a leisurely five-mile jog every morning. We'd eat breakfast by 9:30, then get our tennis shoes on and run down near the Jersey Shore. Then I'd shower up and get on with my studies of the songs because we had these massive rehearsals headed our way. Early on in the rehearsals Bruce approached me. He knew I'd been doing a backflip while I played the guitar in my own show. He asked me: 'If you did it 100 nights, how many times are you going to fall?'

" 'Probably in 100 nights I might fall once on my ass and get embarrassed but not hurt,' I said.

" 'Okay, let's put it in the show,' he said.

"During a lot of the Born in the U.S.A. tour, I also did dive rolls across the stage. It takes quite a bit of sprint velocity to do them without your hands while you're playing the guitar so you don't crush your neck. One night he stopped me before I was going to do it. He gets down on all fours and dares me to dive over him. Like a fool I ran and did it. Over the next dozen shows it became a nightly bit. Then the voice of reason, Phil Dunphy, our trainer on the tour, pulled me and Bruce aside and informed us that we were out of our minds. If we kept this up there was going to be a paralyzed guitar player soon, and we'd better knock it off.

"Bruce is pretty consistent about working out daily and maintaining a high level of physical health. He's living proof it's not some voodoo. It's just a good work ethic and a reality check. If you're going to be 60 and do shows like this, it requires some work and energy."

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