Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle: 10 connections, over the years (WATCH VIDEOS)

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Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, Rosanne Cash and Willie Nile will be among the performers at a benefit at Town Hall in New York, Dec. 13.

As previously announced, Bruce Springsteen will perform at Steve Earle’s John Henry’s Friends benefit, Dec. 13 at Town Hall in New York. In light of that, it seemed like a good time to take a closer look at the two artists’ joint history.

Here are nine other ways that their careers have intersected over the years.

2. Earle has frequently expressed admiration for Springsteen in interviews. “Bruce was the guy that kind of figured out that a singer-songwriter … at that moment in history was gonna have to form a rock ’n’ roll band, and he did it,” he once said. “I don’t think there’s any argument about this. He’s the greatest performer — and I’m talking about Elvis Presley, James Brown, whoever. I think Bruce Springsteen is the combination of all that and the greatest live performer that rock ’n’ roll — or pop music of any sort — ever produced.”

3. Springsteen also had a direct influence on Earle’s signature song, “Guitar Town.” “I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on the Born in the USA Tour and it dawned on me; he opened with ‘Born In The U.S.A.,’ and it was like, ‘This, that’s what I need to do! ‘,” Earle has said. “I need to write a beginning and an end for this record and then the rest of the songs will fall into place. So I wrote ‘Guitar Town’ specifically to open the record and open the show.”

4. Springsteen joined Earle and Earle’s band The Dukes at a concert at Tradewinds in Sea Bright in 1998 for a mini-set that included Carl Perkins’ “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” and “Sweet Virginia,” and Earle’s “Guitar Town,” “I Ain’t Never Satisfied” and “Johnny Come Lately.” Here are those six songs:

5. Earle performed Springsteen’s “Nebraska” and participated in the group grand finale at a 2007 tribute to Springsteen at Carnegie Hall in New York at which Springsteen himself made an unbilled appearance, performing “The Promised Land” and “Rosalita.” Here is “Rosalita” with Springsteen, Earle and many others:

6. In 2009, Springsteen and Earle both participated in a 90th birthday celebration for Pete Seeger at Madison Square Garden in New York. Both can be seen in this clip:

7. Here is Earle, early in his career, performing Springsteen’s “State Trooper” and introducing it as a song “by a pretty good hillbilly singer from New Jersey named Bruce Springsteen”:

8. Here is Earle performing a medley of Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street” and his own “Sweet Little ’66”:

9. Here is a live version by Earle of Springsteen’s “Nebraska,” preceded by some thoughtful discussion of the similarity in the two artists’ approach to songwriting:

10. Here is a video of Earle and others talking about Springsteen:


Earle’s son, the late singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle, was a Springsteen admirer as well. Here he is performing Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”:

(DEC. 13 UPDATE: For coverage of the Town Hall show, click here.)


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Diane Wilkes December 13, 2021 - 10:47 pm

Don’t forget the allusion to Rosalita in Hard Core Troubadour!

Too many years ago I saw Steve Earle and Garry and Max were playing with the band at the Chestnut Cabaret. It was pretty great.


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