John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen — the night they almost met
I cannot believe John Lennon would have turned 80 years old on October 9. I also can't believe it's been 40 years since we lost him. Author Tim English captures the last year of the former Beatles life in his new book John Lennon: 1980 Playlist which delves into the music Lennon was listening to in the last year of his life.
Among the inspirations that got Lennon back in the studio after a 5 year hiatus was Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and Paul McCartney's "Coming Up." Another artist Lennon was a fan of was Bruce Springsteen. I got the chance to talk to him over the weekend about the book.
"He loved 'Hungry Heart' English said when we talked, "and 'Hungry Heart' was actually Bruce's first top ten single and in that song John heard echoes of early rock 'n' roll and compared it to 'Double Fantasy' that they were sort of doing the same thing."
But English said Lennon didn't stop there.
"John had also listened to 'The River' album which a lot of it harkens back to the early 1960's, you've got 'Ties That Bind' is sort of like a 'Searchers' type song. 'Cadillac Ranch' is sort of like a 60's type song, but of course Bruce was into what was going on in the country. The struggles of working people and all that."
Here's how much Lennon thought of "The River" according to English, "At least by one account, John listened to the album, came out and said 'Well this is better than what I'm doing.' Of course Bruce was really at the top of his game at the time."
In one of Lennon's last interviews, English said, "You know I may actually go out and see this guy, I hear from people I respect that he's really good." Bruce was on tour at the time having played Madison Square Garden Thanksgiving weekend.
English told me the story of how John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen almost met:
"There was a fellow named Tony Bramwell who was an old-time Beatles associate from way back who was working with Bruce doing public relations in the seventies and he tells the story that in 1978 he had the idea of setting up a meeting with John and Bruce who were both interested in meeting each other but John backed out of it. According to Bramwell, he just didn't want to deal with I guess it would have been at that time he was kind of underground and he just didn't want the publicity I don't think that would have accompanied any such meeting so it never happened."
When Lennon was murdered, Springsteen was playing the Spectrum in Philadelphia and English told me of the tribute the Boss gave the former Beatle on stage the following night.
"Bruce said 'you know, if it wasn't for John Lennon, a lot of us wouldn't be here tonight' and he said Twist and Shout was the first song he ever played on guitar and of course during those years he often encored with 'Twist and Shout.' At the beginning of that show at the Spectrum, Bruce said, 'It's tough to come out here tonight but there's nothing else to do.'"
To order John Lennon: 1980 Playlist, click here
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.