All evening the unforgettable thunder of the E Street drums picked up the beat—his beat—rolled it over cavernous RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. and made it like home. All evening, the muscle-bound little speck of a man boogalooed around the stage—his stage—and sang his songs and made 52,306 fans mad with love. They danced to his music, knew every lyric to every song, listened to all his raps, felt his sorrows and soared to uncharted heights every time he lit into one of his fundamentalist rock ‘n’ roll revivalist anthems. And then, when it was all over and time to go home, they stood there and invoked his name: “BROOOOOOOO-CE!”
This is what Bruce Springsteen has been doing for a living the past 14 months. And now he’s performing in gigantic stadiums before bigger and more adoring American crowds than ever before. When you have all that, three or four nights a week, what can you do for an encore?
First of all, the Boss could stay on the road forever. This alternative would please his zillions of camp followers but probably lead to an early divorce from his new wife, Julianne Phillips. Or he could return to the recording studio and try to match the phenomenal success of Born in the U.S.A., the LP that powered his leap into the rock stratosphere by selling more than 13 million copies. Or he could make like Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson and conquer the Silver Screen. Or he could combine two and three by optioning his story songs (Nebraska and The River are chock full of them) to some would-be Allan Carr.
All Bruce would have to do is make the calls. According to industry scuttlebutt, several production companies have their sights set on snagging some of Bruce’s narrative numbers for development. Embassy Films actually made a bid for at least one Nebraska song. And there is talk that Robert Guenette Productions wants to enlist Bruce’s help in producing a CBS-TV show based on one of his hipper lyrics. Good luck, Bobby.
When John Sayles directed Springsteen in the I’m on Fire video, and the Boss lit up the screen with his easy, incandescent presence, movie moguls across the land said to themselves, “I have seen Hollywood’s future, and it looks just like Bruce Springsteen.” However, an L.A. writer who knows the town and the rock world says any move into films would be “too obvious” a career choice. But even if Bruce should turn his back on Hollywood, Julianne will not. Her manager, Molly Madden, says, “There is a lot of interest in Julianne, and Bruce is very supportive of her career. She definitely has plans.”
Bruce, more likely, will find himself in the recording studio. A company spokeswoman for Columbia says two new songs introduced on the current leg of the Boss’ 1984-85 World Tour, Seeds and Man at the Top, will “certainly be recorded.” And Bruce’s management suggests there is still life left in Born in the U.S.A. After spinning off five hit singles already, Columbia is planning to bring out I’m Goin’ Down this month.
Which brings us back to possible career alternative No. 1—the endless tour. As Bruce so succinctly puts it, just before he and Big Man Clarence Clemons fall over backward onstage, “I’m a prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll!” Yeah, and don’t think that doesn’t thrill his soul. More than three hours into the Washington concert, he stops the show and teases, “There’s one thing I have to know…before I go.” Brief pause. “DO YOU LOVE ME?” The answer comes in a one-word wall of sound. Do they ever.