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Paul McCartney roasts Springsteen at Ivor Awards

Mark Savage - Music correspondent BBC News


Sir Paul McCartney affectionately mocked Bruce Springsteen, as he presented him with a prestigious prize at Thursday's Ivor Novello Awards.

Springsteen was in London to receive the ceremony's highest honour - a fellowship of the songwriting academy.

He is the first international star to receive the award, and Sir Paul said he "couldn't think of a more fitting" recipient... "except maybe Bob Dylan".

"Or Paul Simon, or Billy Joel, or Beyoncé, or Taylor Swift," he added. "The list goes on."

"He's known as the American working man," Sir Paul continued, "but he admits he’s never worked a day in his life."

And he imagined how Springsteen would have fitted into the Beatles, before deciding: "When it comes to talent, he’d definitely be in the top five."

Springsteen took the jibes in good humour, hugging Sir Paul as he took to the stage.

His voice was hoarse and squeaky, after playing a rain-soaked, three-hour concert in Sunderland on Wednesday night.

But he said he never considered cancelling the show.

"We came out last night, and I was like, 'What is this weather? Driving rain, wind roaring"

"But standing in front of me, in the rain, I realised: These are my people."

The star also recalled how the UK had become a second home, despite initial reservations when he first came to London in 1975.

"The airplane food was not so great, and my first thought when we landed at Heathrow was, 'Where's all the cheeseburgers?'

"The cheeseburgers had either been hidden or replaced by something called fish and chips. It was a little disconcerting.

"Then our next stop was the Hammersmith Odeon, where I was greeted by a huge sign announcing: 'London is finally ready for Bruce Springsteen'.

"And all I thought was, 'If London isn't ready for a cheeseburger, they may not be ready for me!'"

But Springsteen was warmly received at the Ivor Novello Awards, with the crowd gamely cheering him on as he played a croaky version of Thunder Road.

Springsteen is only the 27th person to receive the fellowship of the Ivors Academy - joining the likes of Sir Elton John, Joan Armatrading, John Barry, Kate Bush and Sir Paul himself.

The induction marks his impact on culture over the years, having sold more than 140 million records and won an Oscar, a Tony and 20 Grammy Awards.

From the full-throttle drama of his early songs, to the commercial heights of Born In The USA and the more introspective, political themes of his most recent albums, the star's music has channelled the frustrations America's working class into stadium-shaking rock anthems.

Elbow's Guy Garvey was among the star's fans in the audience.

"He's carrying the torch for folk music in the world of rock," he told the BBC.

"He's a force to be reckoned with. There's only one boss."

Sir Paul also relented during his speech, recalling how Springsteen had kept a promise to join him onstage at Glastonbury, even after his set was delayed for several years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"He's a lovely boy," he laughed.



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