Bruce Springsteen Talks Catholicism on “Fresh Air”

Born to RunCheck out Bruce’s interview with Terry Gross of National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air.”  Here is a taste:

So, you also lived near the church and church was a part of your life. And you write about Catholicism, “This is the world where I found the beginnings of my song. In Catholicism, there existed the poetry, danger and darkness that reflected my imagination and my inner self. I found a language of great and harsh beauty, of fantastic stories, of unimaginable punishment and infinite reward.”

Are there particular Bible stories or religious paintings that really made an impression on you? 

No, it was more just the basics. I think when you’re a child, you just cling to the basics, which is the basic story of Jesus and the Crucifixion and hell and eternal punishment and the flames. This was all stuff that was, when you’re young, this is very tangible and is as real as the gas station next door to you.

Maybe especially since the church was just about next door to you.

Exactly! So these things, and also because we lived in the presence of the church and the convent and the rectory and the school 24/7, and this was an enormous cornerstone in the lives of my entire family. They were all pretty serious Catholic churchgoers. And as a child, these things were very, very terrifying.

What things? Were you afraid of hell?

Haha, yeah.

Eternal damnation?

[Laughs] That one too! So, these were stories that were not stories, you know? They were simply facts. This is what occurred. This is what can occur, unless you toe the line, my friend.

So, when you’re a child — and you forget that the Catholic religion at the time was much darker and more mysterious. The entire Mass was in Latin. If you go to my church now it’s incredibly bright inside, but when I was young, it was very dark inside.

It was just the difference in the way they’ve painted it since I’ve gone there and it strives for a very different and welcoming spirit. Where when I was young, it was sort of built to intimidate, even on this very local level and this very small church in this small town, it still held you in the palm of its darkness. And it was something I carried with me, never forgot, brought into my music, and it’s been in my music ever since.

Read the entire interview here.