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Bruce Springsteen‘s legacy in the land of American pop culture is almost unmatched. Through his plethora of songs, he has accurately captured the beating heartland of the US. The stories woven into his lyrics are enriched with the salt of the society they’re born from, pulsing with the lifeblood of a nation. But, if there was one man who might be able to stand toe-to-toe with the icon, it’s Martin Scorsese.

Like Springsteen, Scorsese has routinely delivered reflections on the nation that gave his art life. Movies like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull may have been extracted from the darker side of US culture, but they still reeked of the star-spangled banner. With each man known to be a fan of the other’s art form – Springsteen sharing his favourite movies on more than one occasion and Scorsese being one of the most important musical documentarians of the 20th century – when the two men met, it was always likely to be a love-in.

Watch Bruce Springsteen perform 'If I Was The Priest' live:
The event occurred in 2019 on a special night honouring the Netflix release of Springsteen’s concert movie Springsteen on Broadway. During the conversation, the singer admitted that Scorsese’s pivotal work on The Last Waltz had dramatically inspired how he delivered his own movie, saying how much he craved the same “watchability” Scorsese gave his project.

The two men also looked to quell a long-held myth surrounding The boss. The story goes that he was the inspiration behind the iconic line “Are you talking to me?” delivered by Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Scorsese’s landmark movie Taxi Driver. “There still remains that great debate of where ‘Are you talkin’ to me?’ came from,” Scorsese said. “I tried reaching Bob now, but of course, he’s about to land somewhere.”

Springsteen tried to play the idea down, showing his famous humility: “I believe it [that DeNiro got it from Springsteen] is urban myth.” There could be some truth to the matter. Scorsese and De Niro are known to have visited a Springsteen show at the Bottom Line before making the picture and, during this time, would regularly use the line in his ‘Quarter to Three’ performance. “No, I think it might be (true),” Scorsese replied. “You never know. Because we never knew where that came from.”

It’s not clear if Springsteen influenced the two men behind the movie, but it is certain that Scorsese’s work had a profound impact on Springsteen, with the singer even picking out a special scene from Mean Streets, Scorsese’s debut feature, as one of the best of all time. The opening credit scene sees Harvey Keitel struggling to sleep as the home movies of his mind play and The Ronnettes’ masterpiece, ‘Be My Baby’ rings out. Springsteen simply labels it “the greatest opening scene of all time — oh my God.”

The movie is characterised by its raw, unfiltered portrayal of urban life, capturing the gritty ambience of the streets and the complexities of interpersonal relationships within the tight-knit community. Scorsese’s use of handheld cameras, kinetic editing, and a vibrant soundtrack infuses the film with a sense of urgency and authenticity. All of which is distilled in the brilliance of this opening scene.

The scene is one of many brilliant strokes of genius from Scorsese. However, it also proved to be a costly mistake. The director used the song without permission, and because of it, murderous producer and songwriter Phil Spector was able to claim a portion of the movie’s profits.


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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