Bruce Springsteen appeared on The Daily Show Monday night to talk about his new album Letter to You, but host Trevor Noah had plenty to ask the Boss about his 50-year career as a masterful songwriter.
In particular, the two discussed Springsteen’s propensity for writing songs about police brutality long before the issue was on the frontlines of American politics; in 2000, Springsteen’s song “American Skin,” about the police shooting of Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo, prompted boycotts of his shows from the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association.
“I didn’t think it was going to be particularly controversial at the time — it ended up being a little more so than I thought,” Springsteen told Noah. “But that’s kind of how I approach the political aspect in my music. It’s through implication. I try to write good, three-dimensional character studies where I bring lives to life and create breathing, living human beings that you will recognize in my music. And then I kind of let the politics speak for itself.” He concluded by saying he didn’t consider himself a political songwriter, but rather a spiritual one.
Springsteen released Letter to You earlier this month, alongside a documentary of the same name that explored the history of his work with the E Street Band.
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