at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City
"He hasn't done the things most rock stars do. He got rich and famous,
but never embarrassed himself with all that success, did he? No drug busts,
no blood changes in Switzerland. Even more remarkable, no golfing! No bad hair
period, even in the '80s. No wearing of dresses in videos ... No embarrassing
movie roles, no pet snakes, no monkeys. No exhibitions of his own paintings.
No public brawling or setting himself on fire ...
"Rock stars are supposed to make soap operas of their lives, aren't they?
If they don't kill themselves first. Well, you can't be a big legend and not
be dysfunctional. It's not allowed. You should at least have lost your looks.
Everyone else has. Have you seen them? It's like Madame Tussaud's back there.
"Then there's Bruce Springsteen. Handsome mother with those brooding brown
eyes, eyes that could see through America. And a catastrophe of great songs,
if you were another songwriter. Bruce has played every bar in the U.S.A., and
every stadium. Credibility -- you couldn't have more, unless you were dead.
But Bruce Springsteen, you always knew, was not gonna die stupid. He didn't
buy the mythology that screwed so many people. Instead he created an alternative
mythology, one where ordinary lives became extraordinary and heroic. Bruce Springsteen,
you were familiar to us. But it's not an easy familiarity, is it? Even his band
seems to stand taller when he walks in the room. It's complex. He's America's
writer, and critic. It's like in 'Badlands,' he's Martin Sheen and Terrence
Malick. To be so accessible and so private ... But then again, he is an Irish-Italian,
with a Jewish-sounding name. What more do you want? Add one big African sax
player, and no one in this room is gonna (mess around) with you! "In 1974,
I was 14. Even I knew the '60s were over. It was the era of soft-rock and fusion.
The Beatles was gone, Elvis was in Vegas. What was goin' on? Nothin' was goin'
on. Bruce Springsteen was comin' on, saving music from the phonies, saving lyrics
from the folkies, saving leather jackets from the Fonz. (Sings) 'Now the greasers,
they tramp the streets and get busted for sleeping on the beaches all night,
and them boys in their high heels, ah Sandy, their skins are so white. Oh Sandy,
love me tonight, and I promise I'll love you forever.' In Dublin, Ireland, I
knew what he was talking about. Here was a dude who carried himself like Brando,
and Dylan, and Elvis. If John Steinbeck could sing, if Van Morrison could ride
a Harley-Davidson .... It was something new, too. He was the first whiff of
Scorsese, the first hint of Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and the Clash. He was
the end of long hair, brown rice and bell bottoms. It was the end of the 20-minute
drum solo. It was good night, Haight- Ashbury; hello, Asbury Park.
"America was staggering when Springsteen appeared. The president just
resigned in disgrace, the U.S. had lost its first war. There was going to be
no more oil in the ground. The days of cruising and big cars were supposed to
be over. But Bruce Springsteen's vision was bigger than a Honda, it was bigger
than a Subaru. Bruce made you believe that dreams were still out there, but
after loss and defeat, they had to be braver, not just bigger. He was singing
'Now you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore,'
because it took guts to be romantic now. Knowing you could lose didn't mean
you still didn't take the ride. In fact, it made taking the ride all the more
"Here was a new vision, and a new community. More than a community, because
every great rock group is kind of like starting a religion. and Bruce surrounded
himself with fellow believers. The E Street -- it wasn't just a great rock group,
or a street gang. It was a brotherhood. Zealots like Steve Van Zandt, the bishop
Clarence Clemons, the holy Roy Bittan, crusaders Danny Federici, Max Weinberg,
Garry Tallent and later Nils Lofgren. And Jon Landau, Jon Landau, Jon Landau,
Jon Landau, Jon Landau. What do you call a man who makes his best friend his
manager, his producer, his confessor? You call him the Boss. And Springsteen
didn't just marry a gorgeous red-headed woman from the Jersey Shore. She could
sing, she could write, and she could tell the Boss off.
"For me and the rest of the U2-ers, it wasn't just the way he described
the world. It was the way he negotiated it. It was a map, a book of instructions
on how to be in the business but not of it. Generous is a word you could use
to describe the way he treated us. Decency is another. But these words can box
you in. I remember when Bruce was headlining Amnesty International's tour for
prisoners of conscience, I remember thinking 'Wow, if ever there was a prisoner
of conscience, it's Bruce Springsteen.' Integrity can be a yoke, a pain...when
your songs are taking you to a part of town where people don't expect to see
"At some point I remember riding in an elevator with gentleman Bruce,
where he just stared straight ahead of himself, and completely ignored me. I
was crushed. Only when he walked into the doors as they were opening, did I
realize the impossible was happening. My god, Bruce Springsteen, the Buddha
of my youth, is plastered! Drunk as a skunk! ... I have to go back to the book
of instructions, scratch the bit out about how you held yourself in public.
By the way, that was a great relief.
"Something was going on, though. As a fan I could see that my hero was
beginning to rebel against his own public image. Things got even more interesting
on 'Tunnel of Love,' when he started to deface it. A remarkable bunch of tunes,
where our leader starts having a go at himself, and the hypocrisy of his own
heart, before anyone else could. But the tabloids could never break news on
Bruce Springsteen. Because his fans... he had already told us everything in
the songs. We knew he was spinning. We could feel him free-falling. But it wasn't
in chaos or entropy. It was in love.
"We call him the Boss. Well that's a bunch of crap. He's not the boss. He works for us. More than a boss, he's the owner, because more than anyone else, Bruce Springsteen owns America's heart."
Remember: You always want an Irishman to give your induction speech ... I knew
I always liked you, Bono. You were scaring me a little bit there --- I wasn't
that good -- but I like the part about my good looks. Anyway, let me warn you.
The records took two years, the show's three hours, so the speech may take a
I stood on this stage and I inducted Roy Orbison, and Creedence Clearwater
Revival, and Bob Dylan -- artists whose music was a critical part of my own
like -- and tonight I hope that my music served my audience half as well. And
if I've succeeded in doing that, it's been with the help of many, many kindred
spirits along the way. I'd like to thank my mother, Adele, for that slushy Christmas
Eve ... for that Christmas Eve and night like the one outside, when we stood
outside the music store and I pointed to that Sunburst guitar and she had that
60 bucks and I said, "I need that one, Ma." She got me -- she got
me what I needed, and she protected me and provided for me on a thousand other
days and nights. So ... As importantly, she gave me a sense of work as something
that was joyous and that filled you with pride and self-regard, and that committed
you to your world. Thanks Mom. This is yours tonight. Take is home as a small
return on the investment you made in your son. Momma ... The Italian side of
the family ... Momma ...
Now my dad, he passed away this year, but I've gotta thank him because ---
what would I conceivably have written about without him? I mean, you can imagine
that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I
would have written just happy songs -- and I tried it in the early '90s and
it didn't work; the public didn't like it. He never said much about my music,
except that his favorite songs were the ones about him. And that was enough,
you know? Anyway, I put on his work clothes and I went to work. It was the way
that I honored him. My parents' experience forged my own. They shaped my politics,
and they alerted me to what is at stake when you're born in the U.S.A. I miss
A lot of other people: Marion and Tex Vinyard. They took me under their wing
when I was 15. They opened up their home to a bunch of rock and roll misfits
and let us make a lot of noise and practice all night long. Thanks Marion. Carl
"Tinker" West, another one of my early managers, whose support I couldn't
have done without. He introduced me to Mike Appel, and Mike kicked the doors
down when they needed kicking. And I consider him my friend; I want to say Mike,
thanks for everything -- mostly everything --- and thanks for being my guest
here tonight. I'm glad you're here with me. Mike introduced me to the world
of Columbia Records, which has been my home for the past 25 years -- from the
early days of John Hammond and Clive Davis to the high-rollin' years of Walter
Yetnikoff and Al Teller, to the present with my friends Tommy Mottola and Donny
Ienner. They created a conduit for a lifetime of thoughts and ideas, a place
where I was ... I felt safe and supported and encouraged to do my best and my
truest work. And I've heard enough record company horror stories right from
this stage to realize, to appreciate the fact that I don't have one. And for
that I've gotta thank all the men and women at Columbia Records around the world,
past and present. Thank you very much for your efforts. I've gotta thank my
co-producer, Chuck Plotkin, (and) engineer Toby Scott for their sustained contributors
to my recorded work. They remained in the saddle as often years went by, wondering
if we'd ever get the music or if they'd ever get a royalty check. They kept
their cool and their creativity ... of course they're basket cases now ... but
we remain friends and great working partners. And no mention of my records would
be complete without Bob Clearmountain, a great mixer who helped me bring my
music to a wider audience. I want to thank my tour director, George Travis,
and the great crews he's assembled on the road over the years. Thank you George.
I want to thank my agents, Barry Bell and Frank Barsalona, for a great job.
All right ... Thank you ... Now the lawyers -- gotta thank them. Peter Parcher
and Steve Hayes. They protected me and my music for 22 years. I appreciate it.
This next one's a little tough. Allen Grubman and Artie Indursky, names familiar
to many in this room. They're the money men. How can I put this? These are great
and complicated and misunderstood Americans ... They're men that are entrusted
with a very, very important task. For the folks that don't know, the money man
goes to the record company, and he's in charge of bringing back the pink Cadillac.
Well, when Allen and Artie go, they bring back the pink Cadillac ... and the
blue Cadillac ... and the yellow Cadillac ... and the red Cadillac ... and the
pink Cadillac with the whitewalls ... but then they take the blue Cadillac ...
and they take the hubcaps off the yellow Cadillac ... but that still leaves
you with a few Cadillacs. And they make sure that neither you nor themselves,
of course, are gonna be broke when you're riding in the black Cadillac. So ...
they do that well. I've gotta thank Barbara Carr for her love and loyalty and
dedication. Couldn't get along without you Barb. My friend Dave Marsh: Thank
you so much.
And oh, the next guy. Yeah. This is ... Jon Landau, or as I sometimes call
him, Jon "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" Landau. I've seen the future
of rock 'n' roll management, and its name is Jon Landau ... I had to return
the favor there. But that was -- that quote was managing, it was a mite burdensome
for me. But as he often said, "That's your job." But Jon's given me
something beyond friendship and beyond guidance: his intelligence, his sense
of the truth, his recognition of my intelligence. His creative ability as a
producer and editor -- speechwriter earlier this evening -- his ability to see
through to the heart of matters, both professional and personal, and the love
that he's given me has altered my life forever. What I hope to give to my fans
with my music -- a greater sense of themselves and and greater freedom -- he
with his talents and his abilities has done that for me. There's no thank you
tonight that's gonna do the job, and it's a debt that I can't repay -- and one
I treasure always. Thank you Jon. I love you. I also want to thank Barbara Landau,
and Kate and Charlie, for sharing Jon with me over the years. I know it hasn't
Now, last but not least, the men and women -- the mighty men and women ---
of the E Street Band. Oh Lord ... Oh Lord ... who I have reeducated and rededicated,
reanimated, resuscitated and reinvigorated with the power, the magic, the mystery,
the ministry of rock 'n' roll. Vini Lopez, Boom Carter -- early drummers of
the band. Davey Sancious. Nils Lofgren, the most overqualified second guitarist
in show business. He plays 10 times better than me and he still wanders over
to hear my solos when I play. I guess he's checking to see if I'm getting any
better. Danny Federici, the most instinctive and natural musician I ever met
and the only member of the band who can reduce me to a shouting mess. I love
you Danny. Your organ and accordion playing brought the boardwalks of Central
and South Jersey alive in my music. Thank you. Garry Tallent. Southern man,
my lovely friend, bass player, rock 'n' roll aficionado, whose quiet and dignity
graced my band and my life. Thank you Garry. Roy Bittan. Roy's playing formed
the signature sound of some of my greatest records. He can play anything. He's
always there for me. His emotional generosity and his deep personal support
mean a great, great deal to me. Thank you Roy. Max Weinberg -- Mighty Max. Star
of the Conan O'Brien show. Conan ain't too bad either ... Max found a place
where Bernard Purdie, Buddy Rich and Keith Moon intersected and he made it his
own. I ask and he delivers for me night after night. Thank you Max. Stevie Van
Zandt. For those of you who have seen "The Sopranos" and are worried
that that's what Steve is like ... that's what he's like. He's a lifetime rock
'n' roll friendship. We did it all, you know. Great songwriter, producer, great
guitarist. We haven't played together in 15 years, and if it's up to me, that
won't ever happen again. I love you Steve. Patti Scialfa. She busted the boys'
club, big time. Oh ... It went like this: "Okay fellas. There's gonna be
a woman in the band. We need someone to sing all the high parts. How complicated
can it get?" Well, a nice paparazzi photo of me in my Jockey shorts on
a balcony in Rome ... 10 of the best years of my life ... Evan, Jessie and Sam,
three children genealogically linked to the E Street Band ... tell the rest
of the story. Everybody ... everybody wants to know how I feel about the band.
Hell, I married one of 'em. Thank you baby. You hit all the high notes. You're
tougher than the rest. Oh now ... last but not least, Clarence Clemons. That's
right. You want to be like him but you can't, you know. The night I met Clarence,
he got up on stage (and) a sound came out of his horn that seemed to rattle
the glasses behind the bar, and threatened to blow out the back wall. The door
literally blew off the club in a storm that night, and I knew I'd found my sax
player. But there was something else, something -- something happened when we
stood side by side. Some ... some ... some energy, some unspoken story. For
15 years Clarence has been a source of myth and light and enormous strength
for me on stage. He has filled my heart so many night -- so many nights -- and
I love it when he wraps me in those arms at the end of the night. That night
we first stood together, I looked over at C and it looked like his head reached
into the clouds. And I felt like a mere mortal scurrying upon the earth, you
know. But he always lifted me up. Way, way, way up. Together we told a story
of the possibilities of friendship, a story older than the ones that I was writing
and a story I could never have told without him at my side. I want to thank
you, Big Man, and I love you so much. So, as Stevie Van Zandt says: "Rock
'n' roll, it's a band thing." And that includes you, the audience. Thank
you for giving me access and entrance into your lives, and I hope that I've
been a good companion. But right now, my wife, my great friends, my great collaborators,
my great band: Your presence tonight honors me, and I wouldn't be standing up
here tonight without you, and I can't stand up here tonight with you.
Please join me.
Oh Jonny ... you too.