Celebrity Coaching: Bruce Springsteen – The Third Thing

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Celebrity CoachingThe Boss is talking to Elvis Costello on the stage of The Apollo Theatre, Harlem. And the subject is the creative process.

Bruce has this to say. ‘In art, as in love, one and one makes three. If it makes two, you’ve failed my friend.

If you’re painting and all you’ve got is the paint and the canvas, you’ve failed. You’ve got to find that third thing that you don’t completely understand, but is truly coming up from inside of you.

If you don’t reach down and touch that thing, you’re just not going to have anything to say and it’s not going to feel like it has life and breath in it. You’re not going to create anything new and it’s not ¬†going to feel authentic’.

What Bruce is revealing is the hidden truth behind all great art. It’s that magical ‘something’ that transfers from the best artists to their audience.

The X Factor that makes you return to a record again and again. Years after it was initially recorded. Take ‘Thunder Road’ as an example. Recorded by Bruce in 1976, this record sounds as fresh today as it did thirty-five years ago. Why?

Because of what the artist was a conduit for. He drew in something greater, higher, finer. Maybe the essence of ‘freedom’. ‘hope’ or ‘optimism’.

Thats why we return to a certain song when we need a boost or uplift. Those qualities of ‘freedom’, ‘hope’ and ‘optimism’, don’t get tired, flat, or weary. They are as they are.

And this is the purpose of the artist. To connect. Without that connection, the artist experiences a sense that something isn’t quite working. Sometimes as a block. Other times that they are just churning out stuff. But it’s not special or different.

But it’s not easy. The artist has to believe in something. Have established values. A personal world-view. A life well-lived at whatever age. And the absence of a raging ego, that doesn’t get in the way of that connection.

In other words, it’s not all about you, the artist. It’s what you can connect to on behalf of others. So that their lives are enhanced by virtue of what you can connect to. This is true everlasting art.