Springsteen’s Open Letter to You: Be Well, Age WellRoundup
tags: music, Bruce Springsteen, Aging
Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University. His most recent book is An Age of Progress?: Clashing Twentieth-Century Global Forces (2008). For a list of all his recent books and online publications, including many on Russian history and culture, go here: https://people.emich.edu/wmoss/pub.htm
After watching, Apple TV+’s Springsteen film, Letter to You (see here for how to view it free), my main thought was how well “The Boss” has aged–he’s now 71.
How should one live one’s life? How should one age? These two interrelated questions are, as Tolstoy realized, main ones we frequently should be asking ourselves.
These thoughts on Springsteen’s successful aging were partially prompted by David Brooks’ recent Atlantic article, “Bruce Springsteen and the Art of Aging Well,” where he wrote “Springsteen is the world champion of aging well — physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. His new album and film, Letter to You, are performances about growing older and death.”
But having co-authored Growing Old forty-five year ago, I have long thought about successful aging (see also here). And in a 2018 Hollywood Progressive review of “Springsteen on Broadway,” I ended it by writing that Springsteen “was one who was wise and humble enough to realize that he shared with all of us common human failings, as well as hopes and dreams.”
Thus, Brooks’ essay was not a revelation to me, but a confirmation of what I already thought, and in the words that follow I’ll indicate why.
Some six years ago I wrote on the Hollywood Progressive site that our main job in life is to love as much as we can and, as we age, gradually reduce our egos. A few other convictions I’ve developed over the years are:
- What values we choose to live by are of utmost importance.
- Love, wisdom, beauty, humility, and tolerance are five primary values we should seek.
- We should choose our professions/our jobs primarily based on what we love doing, not on how much money we earn.
- We should pursue our jobs with love, empathy, creativity, and imagination.
- Life and people are complex and we should avoid reducing them to simplistic categories.
- Count your blessings, be hopeful, and grateful for what life has given you.
- Maintain a sense of humor and be willing to laugh at yourself when you act foolishly, as we all do from time to time
In his Letter to You video, also the title of his album, Springsteen touches all these bases as he weaves his philosophizing in with his singing most of the album’s songs with his E Street Band. (See here for the lyrics of all twelve songs). Most profound and germane to our considerations here are his closing words:
Age brings perspective. . . . It dawns on you rather quickly there’s only so much time left, only so many star-filled nights, snowfall, brisk fall afternoons, rainy midsummer days. So how you conduct yourself and do your work matters. How you treat your friends, your family, your lover.
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