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Glory Days

Friends of the Boss share their most intimate insights.

Jon Landau

Musical Partner

A music critic, Landau became Springsteen's producer in '75 and manager in '77.

"I'd written a favorable review forRolling Stoneof Bruce's second album, but I'd never seen him perform. I went to a club where he was playing in Cambridge [Massachusetts]. They'd put the article in the window. Bruce was outside the club, hopping up and down, trying to stay warm while he read the article. I strolled up to him and asked how the article was.

" 'Pretty good,' he said. 'This guy is usually pretty good.' There were 15 or 20 people in the club. Afterwards we had a chance to talk about the performance, which was fantastic. He called me the next day, and we talked for several hours. That was the beginning of a conversation that we're still having about how to relate to the world around us and how to nurture who you are and what you want to do in the context of a universe that may or may not be sympathetic or interested.

"A few months later I saw him perform at the Harvard Square Theatre. He had this incredibly innate connection to the innermost parts of rock music experience. Although I came to know how much effort went into it, he had the humility to make it look effortless. You feel like you're in the presence of this unique and incredibly honest and authentic voice."

Luke Russert

NBC News Correspondent

Russert's dad, the late TV journalist Tim Russert, became an avid Springsteen fan after booking him to play at John Carroll University, Tim's alma mater, in 1975. Springsteen played "Thunder Road" via satellite at Russert's memorial in 2008.

"My father deeply identified with the blue-collar, working-class stories Springsteen tells in his music. They were all part of his life growing up in South Buffalo. The other attachment was the authenticity of the music. My dad always valued substance over style, and in a world of rock 'n' roll where you had Jimi Hendrix lighting guitars on fire and God knows what during disco and the '80s, you could identify with Springsteen: he never forgot where he came from. I find comfort in Bruce's music and, specifically, in 'Thunder Road.' "

Ron Kovic

Author and Vietnam Vet

Kovic's 1976 book Born on the Fourth of July inspired Springsteen to write the 1984 hit song "Born in the U.S.A."

"In the late 1970s I was living in Hollywood at the Sunset Marquis Hotel. I'd sleep in and then write every day. I'd take a break in the afternoon and sit at the pool to clear my head. One afternoon I was watching this young man in the pool, swimming up a storm. He looked familiar, like Bruce Springsteen. I went over to him in my wheelchair. 'Excuse me, you probably don't know me, but my name is Ron Kovic. I'm a Vietnam veteran, and I wrote a book called Born on the Fourth of July.'

"He looked surprised. 'You're that guy? I just read your book. I couldn't put it down.' Two or three days later I opened up the front door of my hotel room. An album and a bunch of tapes fell down. He had picked up Darkness on the Edge of Town and some of his earlier albums. He had written: 'If my music can touch you and move you as much as your book moved me, that will mean a lot to me. Bruce Springsteen.'

"He invited me to see him at Winterland in San Francisco. All of a sudden he told the story to the audience about how he picked up Born on the Fourth of July and how much it had meant to him. He went on to talk about how he met a guy named Ron Kovic. Then he sang 'Darkness on the Edge of Town.' He said, 'This one's for you, Ron.' I sat there in my wheelchair with tears in my eyes."

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