web analytics

HBO doc explores Springsteen’s pivotal ‘Darkness’

Trending Articles

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Originally scheduled for release in 2008, as part of a box set commemorating the 30th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen's follow-up to his breakthrough hit “Born to Run,” “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town” debuts tonight on HBO after winning near-universal acclaim at last month's Toronto Film Festival.

“I think the footage sat around for 30 years,” says Springsteen, 61, of the black-and-white videos culled from recording sessions and interviews that the New Jersey-born rocker and his personal archivist, Thom Zimny, pieced together for “The Promise.” “I didn't even know it existed.”

The 90-minute documentary — to be packaged with a remastered edition of the original album, 21 of the roughly 70 outtakes Springsteen wrote for “Darkness,” and two DVDs featuring rare concert footage, due Nov. 16 — finds The Boss at an early career crossroads.

Continue Reading Below

[advertisement]
[advertisement]

“It was time to create an identity for myself,” he says, questioned in Toronto by actor Edward Norton.

“We were in the middle of the so-called Carter recession, and the war in Vietnam had ended three years earlier. We as a country had lost our innocence, and we had this huge body of work — happy songs, bar music — that I decided not to use.”

Instead, Springsteen set out to make a “bloody portrait of America,” a dramatic departure from his three previous albums.

While touring behind 1975's “Born to Run,” Springsteen was treated by Martin Scorsese to a special Los Angeles screening of “Taxi Driver.” Springsteen says “Darkness,” a collection of 10 songs he describes as “cinematic stories,” is, in some ways, a musical counterpart to that film, reflecting an uncertain moment in both America's history and his own.

“The irony of success is that it makes you a mutant,” he says. “None of the E Street Band had ever been on a plane. New York was a million miles away. We were a bunch of provincial guys, and we'd been doing pretty well, getting a couple thousand people out for a show, charging $1 a ticket. You split $2,000 between five guys — when you're young, you can live on that forever.

“I was one of the only guys I knew who had a record deal. Nobody knew anyone else who had money, and I was feeling survivor's guilt. I was an ambitious young man motivated by fear rather than bravery, and I was afraid of losing my identity after that first success. So I dug deep. I wanted to honor my parents' history. I wanted to create something with lasting power. That's where 'Darkness' came from.”

Click here or scroll down to comment

In Other News