You see that picture over there? Do you know what that is? It’s Bruce Springsteen’s guitar. It famously graced the cover of the Born To Run album when it came out in the summer of 1975. But if you’ve ever seen a video of Bruce – or even caught his halftime show at the last Super Bowl – you’ve seen this guitar. Bruce has had it his entire career. For those of you guitar aficionados, lemme tell you what I know about this guitar. Springsteen is a Fender loyalist and often switched between Fender Telecasters and Fender Esquire guitars. He liked this guitar because it’s a Frankenstein hybrid of both. It’s a 1953 Telecaster body with the fretboard and head of a 1950’s Esquire. It’s been modified to include a small pre-amp that Bruce can switch on with a tiny toggle switch just below the pickups. This allowed Bruce to travel to all corners of his concert stages and still have enough power to play through a 100 foot 3/4 inch standard plug. REAL guitar nerds will tell you also that the Fender decals on the head were incorrectly applied when the guitar was manufactured – which causes some confusion. Over the years, Bruce’s guitar techs have changed out the pick guard and the pickups – but the guitar is still pretty much the same as it ever was.
How do I know all of this? I recently saw this guitar hanging as part of a Springsteen Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I read the extensive historical information that was next to it. And this is where it gets a little weird. I’m a pretty solidly grounded guy. I’m not one to go in for a lot of mystical mumbo jumbo. To be perfectly honest – I’m a pedestrian fan of Springsteen (although my appreciation is growing considerably the more I learn about Bruce and plan on seeing my first EVER live Springsteen show next month). But apart from my relatively recent increased appreciation – I’m not some crazy Springsteen fan. But friends, I’m here to tell you, my face was about 2 inches away from this guitar and if there ever was any kind of rock and roll power vibe – it’s emanating from this particular instrument. At once you can’t believe it’s the real deal – I checked it out extensively and matched every scratch, every dent, every missing chunk of the body of the instrument with the many photos of Bruce carting it around stage. It is absolutely the 100% real deal hanging there and it is DRIPPING with the goo of rock and roll godliness.
Another thing I learned about Bruce from the exhibit is that he says what he means and means what he says. The exhibit features pages and pages and notebooks worth of handwritten song lyrics. I think Springsteen’s genius has been downplayed over the years. The guy is prolific and he hardly EVER changes a word – or scratches out a line and gives it a second thought. What flowed outta the pen is exactly what got recorded and became a hit record. It’s uncanny. It’s like everything appears to him and he merely transcribes what he sees. By all means, get your self to Cleveland and go see the exhibit! And if you didn’t get one issued to you as part of your white, suburban initiation kit with your white bread and mayonnaise – go pick up a copy of Born To Run and give that a listen while you’re at it!