Bruce Springsteen: Even 'The Boss' Has To Deal With Depression

Rock superstar Bruce Springsteen sits comfortably alongside Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Neil Young as one of the greatest musicians of his age. Springsteen's live shows are the stuff of legend, the energy that 66-year-old Bruce brings to his shows are simply unforgettable to his millions of fans. Springsteen regularly plays sets that stretch to over three hours in length, which is something that puts many contemporary artists to shame. Bruce is well known for his attention to detail, a 2003 biography

Bruce is well known for his attention to detail. A 2003 biography, Days of Hope and Dreams, revealed that Springsteen can take longer to select tracks and sequence an album than it takes to record it.

Springsteen is clearly a perfectionist, a trait common amongst high achievers in any field. From the outside, it looks like Bruce has it all. He has a beautiful wife, untold riches, and a lifestyle that is the envy of many. Springsteen is a working class hero famed for his philanthropy and for providing the soundtrack to working-class American life. Of course, as is the case with so many people in the public eye, Springsteen's success hides the battles that he endures away from the public eye.

Back in 2012, Rolling Stone revealed that like so many creative people Springsteen has had a lengthy battle with depression and even contemplated suicide. Bruce's longtime friend, biographer, and collaborator Dave Marsh revealed that Bruce has been in therapy since 1982.
"Bruce was feeling suicidal. The depression wasn't shocking, per se. He was on a rocket ride, from nothing to something, and now you are getting your ass kissed day and night. You might start to have some inner conflicts about your real self-worth."
It may be coincidental but Bruce released his hugely influential Nebraska album in 1982. Widely regarded as Springsteen's darkest album, Nebraska delivered songs about mass murder, crime, and hopelessness. It was hard-hitting social commentary that, unlike most of Springsteen's darker material, offers little by way of a happy ending. The mood of Nebraska is dark, stark, and uncompromising, doubtless reflecting Bruce's inner turmoil at the time of writing the songs.
The October edition of Vanity Fair points out that Springsteen is "inherently a brooder, a serious, unglib man given to puzzling out the mixed-up thoughts in his head." Billboard reports that Springsteen is set to release his memoirs in a book called Born To Run later this month. Springsteen talks extensively about his family life, his upcoming new music, and of course his battles with depression. Bruce reveals that he was "crushed" by depression between the ages of 60 and 62 and again just two years ago. With the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see recognise that the song "This Depression" from Springsteen's 2012 album Wrecking Ball was a pretty big hint that things were not well with Springsteen.

Of course Springsteen is hardly alone in facing the perils of depression. In Creative Something it is explained that depression is especially prevalent amongst creative people including musicians and artists. Health Magazine lists artists, entertainers, and writers as being among the top 10 professions where people are diagnosed as suffering from the debilitating illness.

It is widely claimed that one person in every 10 will suffer from depression or other mental health issues during their lifetime, but according to Metal Injection, one study has claimed that the figures for musicians like Springsteen are far higher. Far from being unique, it seems that Bruce may actually be in the majority as it is claimed that over 60 percent of musicians suffer in this way.

Over 70 percent of those questions revealed that touring was the single biggest factor causing performers like Springsteen to fall ill with depression. Artist Willis Earl Beal says that touring is destructive for musicians.

"Touring can be destructive on a musician, it was destructive on me, that's for sure. I'd come home from tour, and I'm back to feeding the cat. My wife at the time – I don't have a wife now – worked 12-hour shifts, so I was cooking the dinner all that sort of s**t. There was a lot of tension, because I'm thinking to myself, 'I don't deserve this, I'm a big star' and that was one of the contributing factors in ending my marriage. This f*****g career, the striving towards something that never existed and doesn't exist."
Artists like Springsteen, who tours relentlessly, live in a bubble of airports, hotel rooms, and tour buses. Far from living the high life, musicians like Springsteen face countless hours of mind-numbing boredom and isolation whilst on tour. While Springsteen's wife, Patti Scialfa, tours with Bruce as part of the E-Street Band, that arguably does little to reduce the pressure touring brings. Springsteen even hinted at the inner turmoil he experiences during a speech at a Barack Obama campaign rally back in 2008.
"I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American dream and American reality."
It is becoming more usual for musicians like Springsteen to talk openly about depression. Talking can only be a good thing if it encourages those dealing with depression to recognize that they are not alone and that help is available. Springsteen reveals that mental illness has been a factor in the lives of several of his family members and in talking about his own struggles Bruce is telling everyone that it can get better, you can deal with it if you can just reach out for help.

Springsteen revealed that mental illness has been a factor in the lives of several of his family members and in talking about his own struggles, Bruce is telling everyone that it can get better, you can deal with it if you can just reach out for help.

If you are suffering from depression, help is available and the Anxiety And Depression Association Of America is a great place to start.

[Photo by Gregorio Borgia/AP Images]