Springsteen might be at his best in discussing the contradictions that have defined him — a working-class hero who concedes that he has “never worked 9 to 5,” someone who still speaks for the downtrodden while having become “wildly and absurdly successful” in the process.
“That’s how good I am,” he quips.
As always, Springsteen — rock’s de facto poet laureate — paints pictures with words as few can. That’s especially true when he describes his relationship with his father (“my hero and my greatest foe”) and his friendship with saxophonist Clarence Clemons, discussing their loss in a way that is deeply personal and yet universal.
The acoustic format accentuates Springsteen’s gifts as a lyricist, bringing a different intonation to the inherent beauty of songs like “Dancing in the Dark” or “Thunder Road” that can be more easily overlooked with the E Street Band wailing away behind him.
It’s impossible to ignore the spiritual aspects of the experience — what feels like an extended sermon in the Church of Bruce. Springsteen vividly conveys the striving and anxiety of a young man and reflections of an older, established one, infused with a clarity that comes from having told those tales to arena-sized crowds, over a rock ‘n roll career that has touched five decades.
Already the owner of multiple Grammys, an Oscar and a Tony, one would have to expect that “Springsteen on Broadway” has a fair chance of adding an Emmy to that resume, and the rare title of EGOT that would come with it.
Granted, those kind of accolades might sound like a lot to ask of one guy, standing alone on stage, armed only with a few musical instruments and an unabated passion for rock. But fortunately, he’s that good.
“Springsteen on Broadway” premieres Dec. 16 on Netflix.