Most people have listened to Springsteen’s albums released in the 1970s and 1980s, where hits like “Born in the USA” cemented Springsteen into rock and roll fame. However, in one of the most difficult autumns for the world in decades, the 71-year-old Springsteen returns with a tender and human album in which he reconnects with the E Street Band, his band since 1972. Letter To You includes nine new songs and three released compositions from the 1970s.
This record is a tribute to his music and to rock and roll. It includes experiences Springsteen has felt with his co-musicians, from 1965 until today, describing the world he created with his fans. As with all written narratives, details are a fundamental factor in the credibility of a story. In Letter to You, Springsteen does not shy away from filling his songs with such references, providing a nostalgic glimpse on his past self. Quite impressively, it was all recorded live, taking a record four days for Springsteen and the E Street Band. Three songs are old: one, the excellent “If I Was the Priest,” so vintage that Springsteen played it at his 1972 audition for Columbia Records’ A&R John Hammond. Another, “Janey Needs a Shooter,” nearly made it onto several Springsteen 1970s albums. And “House of a Thousand Guitars” paints a picture of an afterlife that sounds quite a bit like a guitar shop.
Springsteen has announced he still has more music to play, both live and in the studio. However, it does speak to the quality of Letter to You, both as a record within an already loaded catalogue, and a summation of a five-decade career spent translating hopes, fears, and dreams into life-changing rock songs.