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How Springsteen Came to Write New Album ‘Letter to You’ on A Fan’s Guitar

Almost the entirety of Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming 20th studio album, Letter to You, was written on a fan’s guitar.

bruce springsteen letter to you

Bruce Springsteen wrote his upcoming album on a guitar gifted by a fan

Danny Clinch*

Almost the entirety of Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming 20th studio album, Letter To You, was written on a fan’s guitar.

“There was a young man on the sidewalk holding a guitar so I figured he wanted me to sign it,” he said. “And he said, ‘No, no no I want to give it to you’. I looked at it and I could tell right away that it was beautifully made you know.

“So I brought it home and I looked at it and it played beautifully, it sounded gorgeous, and the wood… It had a variety of different types of wood. It was a real piece of craftsmanship – and so I left it in my living room,” he continued.

“When I started to feel the urge to write I just picked it up because it was such an easy play. Most of the songs came pouring out to me so I owe a debt to whoever that young man is, wherever he is. Instruments have power, in and of themselves. Guitars are inspirational and they do hold songs within them. It’s wonderful to discover it.”

Springsteen shared the story during a virtual press conference today where he was joined by media from Australia (including Angela Bishop who sparked the anecdote), Japan and Canada. It was in celebration of his upcoming album and film, Letter To You.

Photo Credit: Danny Clinch

Springsteen also revealed that while Letter To You was almost entirely written on that fan’s guitar – sans three never-released songs from 1972 or 1973 (“Song to Orphans”, “Jeannie Needs a Shooter” and “If I Was the Priest”) – it wasn’t recorded on it.

“I was playing my electric guitar (while recording),” he said during the press conference. “It was played all at one time, there was no overdubbing.”

Bruce Springsteen is the current cover star for Rolling Stone US’ October magazine issue. In his interview with Brian Hiatt, Springsteen said despite his ripe old age of 71 and Letter To You marking his 20th album, he ain’t done yet.

“I plan,” says Springsteen, “to have a long road in front of me.… Some of my recent projects have been kind of summational, but really, for me, it’s summational for this stage of my work life. I’ve got a lot left to do, and I plan to carry on.”

Letter To You marks Springsteen’s first time performing with the E Street Band since The River 2016 tour. The album was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig.

Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You will stream on Apple TV+ on October 23rd, the same day as the Letter to You album’s release. The documentary chronicles Springsteen and the E Street Band’s recording of the album over five days in his Colts Neck, New Jersey, home studio.

Letter to You Track listing

1. One Minute You’re Here
2. Letter To You
3. Burnin’ Train
4. Janey Needs A Shooter
5. Last Man Standing
6. The Power Of Prayer
7. House Of A Thousand Guitars
8. Rainmaker
9. If I Was The Priest
10. Ghosts
11. Song For Orphans
12. I’ll See You In My Dreams