Music legend Bruce Springsteen is 69 years old. In his years in music, The Boss has sold more than 130 million records, collected 20 Grammys and won a Tony for his recent, grueling Springsteen on Broadway. Since 1974, the New Jersey native has also done a staggering 16 concert tours, each averaging 100 show dates. His performances regularly last more than three hours — and he treats every gig as if it’s his first.
How does he do it? It’s simple. He never plays two identical shows.
“Every show is so organic,” the founder of the E Street Band has said. “You’re dealing with the alchemy of yourself and your audience, and that’s a swirling, changing experience from moment to moment. “This is the only thing I’m qualified to do. So it matters how I do it.”
Springsteen is also overflowing with positive energy.
“You may be tired, you maybe want to go to sleep,” he acknowledged. “But that walk from the dressing room to the stage, it’s never failed me. Something turns on between those two points.”
What he gets, of course, is the cure-all of an adrenaline rush, as the body involuntarily triggers the adrenal glands to release big doses of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) into the blood, which in turn stimulates greater-than-normal mental and physical abilities. Your stamina, sight and focus improve, and stress levels drop.
Audiences can definitely sense the natural high — which adds another spark to Springsteen’s fire.
“I both guide and allow myself to be guided by the audience,” he said. “They may overwhelm you with their energy.” And when that happens, he added, “we’ll just look at each other and go, ‘Wow, that was a great moment.’”
“Performing is like sprinting while screaming,” Springsteen once said. He should know — it’s been his passion since 1964, when he first saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
￼￼To stay conditioned, he lifts weights and runs several times a week — healthy habits he’s enjoyed for more than 30 years. He also mostly sticks to a vegetarian diet. And though he’s nearing the end of his 60s, he hasn’t felt the need to change his routine or his schedule.
“Energy-wise, I don’t feel anything different,” he has said. To stay mentally balanced, he reads a lot — a form of mental cardio. Springsteen also says he has undergone decades of therapy. “I’m 30 years in analysis,” the singer-songwriter has said. “It remains incredibly medicinal and centering.”
Fellow E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt (a.k.a. Little Steven) added another perspective: He believes it’s what his bandmate isn’t doing that’s most benefited his longevity.
“He’s a living example of what happens when you never do drugs your whole life,” the guitarist said.
Springsteen acknowledged he’s had to “curtail a few things” to keep the party going.
“You’ve got to manage your physical self so it can do the essential and important things,” he said. “I’m probably not going to do three running somersaults at this point.”
Yet there’s a compelling reason not to “settle down” into a less-demanding lifestyle: the healthy benefits of experiencing new places, new people and new stimulation both on and off stage.
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“In music, we make our own little worlds,” The Boss said. “You can live in them for a while, but they can’t give you life. Life awaits you outside of those things.”
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