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By Martin Boulton

On his 20th studio album Letter to You, to be released on October 23, Bruce Springsteen harks back to the glory days of playing guitar, and the unrivalled joy of howling out front of his first band, the Castiles.

The long-gone and little-known 1960s group won't ring many bells for music fans but they're echoing well into 2020 via Letter to You.

Bruce Springsteen's new album with the E Street Band, Letter to You, will be released next week.

Bruce Springsteen's new album with the E Street Band, Letter to You, will be released next week.CREDIT:DANNY CLINCH

Speaking from his home in New Jersey, Springsteen, 71, said the "golden age" of playing in teenage bands in the ’60s served as the starting point for the new album, his first with the E Street Band since 2014's High Hopes.

The album sketches the strong link between his three years in the Castiles and close to five decades playing with the E Street Band, presenting the 12 songs as letters to his fans – heartfelt recollections of his own life in music.

"The unusual thing about rock bands," Springsteen told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, "[is] you are in high school and then you are 70 years old and you have worked with the same people your entire life. There is no business in the world where that occurs, with the exception of a rock ’n’ roll band.

It was just a great process, you can't predict how these things are going to happen.

Bruce Springsteen

"It's a privilege and an honour and a miracle to have sustained all those relationships over that long a period of time because it takes quite a bit of social skills and tolerance for the other guys' foibles, point of view, and their tolerance of mine. It's quite challenging but if you can do it, it's quite rewarding."

Letter to You was recorded live in Springsteen's home studio over a period of five days and is the first time since 1984's chart-topping Born in the U.S.A. album that he and his band have recorded a full album live in the studio.

"We actually recorded the record in four days and on the fifth we listened and told stories," he said. "It was just a great process, you can't predict how these things are going to happen. The band played entirely live, all the vocals are first takes, so it was just a unique and wonderful experience for us to have."

Bruce Springsteen is back with his 20th studio album.

Bruce Springsteen is back with his 20th studio album.CREDIT:

He said the songs, including the title track and new single Ghosts which was released earlier this month, were "a real throwback" and reminded him of cutting some of his most famous songs live, such as Born in the U.S.A. and Darkness on the Edge of Town.

"Any song, you need a good metaphor," he said, reflecting on the process of writing and making music over so many years. "And an exciting title always helps. Thunder Road, Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The Rising – all good titles and a good title can get you going down the tracks. I just try to follow it, like someone would follow a map."

The documentary Bruce Springsteen's Letter to You, directed by The Boss' long-time collaborator Thom Zimny, captures the recording of the album and will be screened exclusively on Apple TV+ from October 23. The film includes a selection of Springsteen monologues that delve deeper into the inspiration and meaning behind the new songs.

Three songs were written in the early ’70s, prior to debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., and remained unreleased until now. Referring to Song for Orphans, one of those three tracks, Springsteen said it was "a lot of fun to sing in the mind of your 22-year-old self with your older voice" and that capturing the music with the E Street Band was "quite a treat" so many years later.

"I don't know anyone who's ever been able to explain it," he said about songwriting. "It's just in the air, it's in your emotions, it's in your mind, it's in your soul, your spirit, your heart, your intellect. There's an element of it that's quite frightening in a sense and then there's another element, when it does happen ... it's one of the most wonderful feelings in my life.

"I've had a few great bands in my life, I had the Castiles in my early teenage years ... and I learned the fundamentals of my craft during those years."

Letter to You will be released on October 23 by Columbia Records/Sony Music


The SPL Rocks!


Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away!
Giants Stadium 8/28/03


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