After niceties including Howard Stern’s love of Metamucil, it only takes about seven minutes into his interview of Bruce Springsteen for the legendary radio host to ask a question that stops me cold.
“Have you ever talked to your therapist about why you do such long shows?”
Let me interject here that I was compelled to seek out this full interview for two reasons that tap into my dual professions. One, Stern’s masterful interviewing skills continue to inspire the journalist in me. Two, as a life coach I gain tremendous insights for my clients when I hear artists talk about the psychology and mechanics of creative process.
And here, at the outset of a two-hour conversation, Stern nails both sides of my compelling interest.
Springsteen laughs before responding, “Of course.”
Oh man, I dig some good ‘couch’ talk.
The Boss is in his ‘real’ years. So is Stern. The bullshit frat boy stuff might still be good for an occasional laugh, but they’ve respectively reached the stage where life is about deepness and richness in relationships and craft. This is instantly a dialogue between evolved, actualized men.
If you had told me this was possible back in the 1980s when my brother would, as a condition of driving me to the airport, subject me to cringy, sophomoric Stern all the way there, I would have thought you were crazy. But here we are.
And so a conversation ensued where Springsteen, taking a cue from Stern’s vulnerability in explaining his own “sickness” around being manic in his work, talked about perfectionism and how it was a “purification ritual” stemming from being raised with notions like original sin.
“I had to get out from under so much Catholic orthodoxy,” Springsteen says.
All while recognizing that a certain amount of “cleaning out your soul and mind” is good for you.
This strikes me as a far cry from the “reformed Catholic” jokes we so often hear (I’ve been guilty of some myself). It’s a more thoughtful acknowledgement that this is an integral, formative part of himself that he sees and has shaped to his benefit as a growing human being. This, of course, ripples into the art.