The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is back in Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You, a new documentary film to complement his new album.
For the first time since 2014’s High Hopes, Springsteen is backed once more by the E Street Band. This film also accompanies the rocker’s 20th studio album. We were blessed with Western Stars last year and once again, we’re blessed with another Springsteen film. Over six months into quarantine, I’ll take whatever happiness I can get. And you cannot go wrong with Bruce Springsteen. Not at all.
Musically speaking, Springsteen deals with the theme of mortality in new songs written for Letter to You. An anddendum to this is that three songs were written prior to his 1973 debut album: “If I Was the Priest,” “Janey Needs a Shooter,” and “Song for Orphans.” Springsteen collaborator Thom Zimny beautifully directs behind the camera. Zimny also doubles up directing duties with that of editing the film. If you’re wondering, the album itself was recorded over a few days in November 2019.
The feature-length vérité documentary runs about an hour and a half. There are full performances of ten album originals in the film. Final takes, of course. Zimny edits the in-studio footage together with never-before-seen archival footage, and Springsteen opening up about these songs. He opened up about the songs in Western Stars but this film feels different because of having the E Street Band in studio.
Bruce Springsteen just turned 71 years old. Two members of the E Street Band have already passed away. It certainly goes without saying that the Boss pays tribute to them upon introducing the band in the film. Saxophonist Clarence Clemons and keyboardist Danny Federici may be gone but they’ll never be forgotten. With the pandemic being what it is right now, it could be a few years before Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour together again. While Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You is a nice companion to the album, nothing will make up for listening to the music live in person. This is where the film comes in handy as a way to promote the album.
Just like the music itself, Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You is personal for the Boss and profound in its own right.
DIRECTOR: Thom Zimny
SCREENWRITER: Bruce Springsteen
CAST: Bruce Springsteen, Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano, Jake Clemons