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Springsteen tells Scorsese of his Catholic and cultural influences

Bruce Springsteen and Martin Scorsese
Charley Gallay | GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA | AFP
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“All my work was informed by my years in Catholic school.”

Bruce Springsteen and Martin Scorsese shared a Los Angeles stage for a talk on artistic creativity and the role of Catholicism in their work. The event, hosted by Netflix, is part of the streaming service’s bid for the Emmys with several films, including Springsteen on Broadway, which is currently available to view on Netflix’s large archive.

The audience was filled with Emmy voters, a fact that Springsteen laughed at, as he said he was “here today begging complete strangers for votes.” To better do this, he was joined by his long-time friend Martin Scorsese. Both men have spent the majority of their careers at the top of their respective fields.

“All my work was informed by my years in Catholic school.”

As the night wore on, the AP reports, Springsteen opened up about his Catholic upbringing, citing his Catholic education as one of his earliest influences. He said:

“All that redemption, damnation, all the Martin Scorsese films. … As I got older I stopped fighting against it. Now I draw on it and enjoy it. There’s no greater well to draw on than myths of Catholicism. Everything is in there.”

Scorsese agreed wholeheartedly, mentioning that his own soon to be released Netflix film, The Irishman, contains many of the same themes, “Trust, loyalty, betrayal and faith.”

The two artists briefly discussed Flannery O’Connor, whose letters were introduced to Springsteen by Scorsese. Of the works of O’Connor, Springsteen mused that he has found that, “the darkness is more interesting than the light.”

The conversation turned to future projects, at which point Springsteen revealed that, after the release of his next solo album, he’s planning to begin recording a new record with the E-Street Band. If all goes according to plan, it will be the first release by Springsteen with his original group in about 7 years.

After this announcement, Variety reports, Springsteen began talking about songwriting, which he also brought back to his Catholic roots:

“You have to capture a little piece of the divine,” he said. “And it can come in many, many forms. But whenever I really have written something that I felt has some quality to it, there’s always that little piece of ‘I’m not exactly sure where that came from. I know how I got here or how I got there, but …'”

The two talked at length about Springsteen on Broadway, the real reason for the meeting. Springsteen mentioned that the whole project arose after he was invited to visit the White House to play for President Obama in the last weeks of his administration. Springsteen, who had just finished a book of memoirs, drew heavily on the work, adding background to each song before it was played.

The Netflix adaptation of the live stage performance was filmed over two nights and, after much discussion with Thom Zimny, the director, it was decided it would be recorded with a live audience. Springsteen said he was worried his jokes wouldn’t land right with Netflix viewers if there wasn’t an audience reaction.

The reunion between Springsteen and Scorsese, who both got their big breaks in 1973 and began a lifelong friendship after a chance meeting at Los Angeles in 1975, ended with Springsteen giving a live performance of “Dancing in the Dark” and “Land of Hope and Dreams”.

Springsteen on Broadway is currently available for streaming on Netflix. His new album, Western Stars, is scheduled for release on June 14.

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