Bruce Springsteen revealed his 21st studio album was “coming out soon” and that it would return his focus to the American West.
Springsteen was speaking at a ceremony where he became the eighth recipient of the Woody Guthrie Prize, a prize awarded annually to an artist who “best exemplifies Woody Guthrie’s spirit and work by speaking for the less fortunate.” Springsteen took the opportunity to explain how the folk icon had influenced him at a time when he needed a new way to express himself.
“I was going through a period in my life when I felt strangely hopeless,” Springsteen said (via Billboard), explaining the moment took place after the release of 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, a “dark examination of … my community of people that I come from and that I was speaking to, who were under siege.”
“It wasn’t until I came across your father’s work that I found that hope,” he told Guthrie’s daughter, Nora. “I believed that the veils had been pulled off and what I was seeing was the real country that I live in and what was at stake for the people and citizenry who are my neighbors and friends.”
He later explained that he didn’t want to be too closely identified with his native New Jersey, and he’d found direction from the way in which Guthrie “took in the whole country and a whole vision that I found very very compelling and necessary and attractive… I wanted to try to fill just a little tiny bit of those shoes.”
Connecting those thoughts with his current work, Springsteen continued: “California was an enormous influence on some of my most topical writing through my ‘90s, 2000s and even now. We have a record coming out soon that’s set largely in the west.” He offered no more details of the album that will follow last year’s Letter To You, which itself came after 2019’s Western Stars – a salute to the big-name Californian artists of his formative years.