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More Glory Days

More friends of the Boss share their most intimate insights.

John Hall

A singer/songwriter who founded the band Orleans, he's in his second term as Democratic U.S. representative from New York's 19th Congressional District, in the Hudson Valley.

"When Bruce and I were starting out, I was in a band called Kangaroo, and Bruce was the leader of a band called the Castilles. We used to do six shows a day, starting about two in the afternoon at Café Wha?, a Greenwich Village coffeehouse where kids from Long Island and New Jersey would come in and hear up-and-coming rock bands. We would alternate, six sets each, going on into the night. I think each man got paid six dollars a day and all the potato chips he could eat.

"Looking back, was there something that would indicate success and the longevity of his career and the standards that he has lived up to? Sure there was. Every step of the way he ignored trends and what record executives were telling him, instead following his own inspirations. It's been evident in how long he takes to make a recording, because he doesn't rush them out. He's notorious for taking his time until it's perfect. He works like an artist and performs like one, and that's what kept him the loyal audience that he has had all these years.

"I think Bruce has been very careful to pick and choose when to advocate the cause. When we did the No Nukes concerts in 1979, Bruce was responsible for selling out two or three of those nights. It is a tough tight rope to walk. Bruce has been more veiled and subtle and artistic in his way of doing it, and that's the sign of an artist, to be able to say something and leave blanks for the listener to fill in."

Ruth Pointer

In 1978, the Pointer Sisters, looking to move from a jazz-R&B sound into pop, recorded "Fire," written by Springsteen. The song became the Pointers' first-ever gold single.

"We were surprised a little because the song is a bit sexual and a bit not. We got different reactions, but mostly people wondering, what did you mean by that? You could take it any number of ways, not only sexually. People just need gentleness in their lives, they need to be touched—babies, seniors, animals. People like to be touched softly. In the gentleness of that song is something every living thing can relate to: with the slow hand and a gentle approach you can aspire to do anything. That's the way I look at the song, and it lets me know that Bruce has a lot of gentleness in his heart."

Anita Pointer

"Bruce was just so sweet when I met him. I went to a big concert of his in Chicago, and I sent a note backstage saying 'Anita Pointer is here.' We had just done 'Fire,' and I was so nervous to meet him: it was like I was going to meet God. There was a mob of people waiting. Finally, he signaled for me and my friend to come in first—and I was so thrilled. Oh my God, me, Anita Pointer, 'Come back in here, yeah you, Anita Pointer, you come on in.' Oh, wow! We went into the dressing room and he was just finishing his massage. He was so sweet. He gave me a note saying something like, 'I love the way you did the song,' and that he was glad I'd come to see him. I still have that note.

"I just hugged him and thanked him for getting us that song and letting us record it. We never had a gold single till 'Fire,' and it just sent us sailing. I love Bruce. I wish he would give me the publishing [royalties] on 'Fire' for one year. Now that would be nice!"

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