Although Bruce wasn’t on hand, this documentary was a fascinating look into a couple of things.
First there’s the creating of an album which is approached differently by different artists. Springsteen is clearly in charge, he has his vision, and needs to complete it. But he takes feedback from his various collaborators.
Secondly, the movie really gets into the creative process itself. And Bruce’s is unique. He’s a perfectionist: he writes and writes and writes, until he gets enough songs to make an album. This may mean 70 songs for a 10 cut album – many times more than he needs – and they are all under constant revision. Some are deleted from (current) consideration, only to return in slightly altered form.
Then there’s the artistic spirit struggling with its own soul. How to remain true and relevant to your roots, when all of the forces of commercialization are allied against you.
The beauty of the film is the mix or archival footage during the making of the album, with recent interviews with all the players – producers, and musicians alike. There’s some powerful music here, and more to come.
Two scenes stood out for me (due to my personal tastes: One was Patti Smith singing “Because The Night”, which Bruce wrote during the making of Darkness, but never finished. One of the producers, got the song to Smith and she finished it. Her only hit record, she averred with a smile, including a cut from a live performance of the song. The other was a scene of Stevie Van Zandt and Bruce just messing around in the studio, but creating a transcendent moment in the process.