Bruce Springsteen is set to kick off his extended 18-week solo residency on Broadway in less than a week. To shift things into gear, The Boss talked with the Times and gave them a preview of what the show will be like, what the inspiration for it was, and why he's chosen to do it now. "That’s a real job. This is my first real job, I think," Springsteen told them, referring to the fact he'll be playing five shows a week for nearly five months. "I go, well, I’m not using myself so totally physically on a nightly basis. And I’m not using my voice — you know, you’re not screaming. But the mental energy that it takes to do it is the same. People come to see you be completely, completely present. Any time you’re trying to do that, it takes a lot of energy."

Springsteen revealed that the inspiration for the residency came last winter, when he performed an acoustic concert at the White House as the Obama family’s parting gift for about 250 staffers. He carefully crafted a career-spanning set, then added in stories and memories. The staffers were all still shell-shocked from the election he noted: "I didn’t want to do something that was all about [Trump]," he explained. "My thought on it was, well, I’ve had a long writing life, and over those years I’ve set out a certain set of values. And the best you could do at that particular moment was just to find a show that expressed those things as best as I could."

That idea of storytelling in an intimate setting resulted in the decision to go for the Broadway residency. This won't be the usual Springsteen/E-Street Band concert where the setlists vary from night to night too: Springsteen will be onstage for two hours with a baby grand piano, an “array of guitars," and lots of stories from his life and career. "This is a locked-in piece of music and script that I’m going to be performing pretty much the same on a nightly basis," he said. "It’s a solidified piece of work. And I think the intimacy of the venue is going to really affect it, to make it quite a bit different from the acoustic tours."

Previews for Springsteen on Broadway will kick off on October 3rd at the Walter Kerr Theater (which has a capacity of just under 1,000). It was originally supposed to run through November 26th with Springsteen playing five shows a week, but has since been extended to go on through February 3rd. If you want an idea of what the setlist for the shows might be like, you can find a few likely spoilers here.

Getting ready... #SpringsteenBroadway

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A few other tidbits from the interview:

  • Springsteen compared the Broadway residency to his 2005 appearance on VH1 Storytellers: "When I did the VH1 thing, Elvis Costello came up to me later and said, 'Gee, it created some third entity,'" he said. "And that’s what I’m interested in doing with the show. I’m playing familiar music, but I believe it will lead you to hear it with very fresh ears by the context that I set it in. I always make a comment that when things are working in art, one plus one equals three."
  • The last Broadway musical Springsteen saw was Hamilton (and he liked it). He also gave a shout out to Sting for The Last Ship.
  • His kids haven't read his autobiography, though he hopes they will one day: "I kind of like that," he noted. "My job, it’s a strange job, it’s an eccentric line of work. And it’s not comparable to anything else and it can be difficult to be around it. As I say in the book, I know a lot of kids who wouldn’t mind seeing 50,000 people boo their parents. But I don’t know how many would want to see those people cheer their parents. It’s just not right."
  • He's not too worried about things becoming repetitive or boring over the course of the five months: "I’ve played 'Born to Run,' many, many times. I’m sure if we went on the internet we could find out how many," he said. "But the key is, you have to approach it not as a repetition but as a renewal. And to do that your spirit has got to be 100 percent present. But it’s a new audience every night. There’s new faces, there’s new opportunities. Those songs have been very good to me over the years, and in return I try to be good to them. So you have a chance of renewing the emotion and the spirit in that music on a nightly basis. That’s the place I work to get to every night when I’m onstage."
  • Springsteen confirmed that his new album was done, though he didn't offer any information about when it might be released.