The 5 Best Displays At The Grammy Museum’s New Bruce Springsteen Live! Exhibit


“Once Bruce takes the stage, my only thought is, is this going to be an absolutely fantastic show, one of the greatest shows he’s ever done, or the greatest show he’s ever done?” That’s the range,” says Bruce Springsteen’s longtime manager Jon Landau in a video at the Grammy Museum’s new Bruce Springsteen Live! Exhibit in Los Angeles.


While that may be a bit (but only a little) hyperbolic, The Boss is known for both the quality and length of his concerts, and the exhibit — which officially opens Saturday (Oct. 15) and runs through April 2 — gives fans a backstage pass to five decades of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s live shows, including rare memorabilia and clothing, instruments, photographs, and interactive displays. The Grammy Museum and Eileen Chapman, director of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and the Center for American Music at Monmouth University, collaborated on the exhibition’s curation.

As Springsteen and his band prepare to return to the road next year for the first time since 2017 (excluding his solo Broadway runs in 2018 and 2021), the exhibit is an excellent way for fans to get a taste of what’s to come. Taking some liberties with some Bruce Springsteen lyrics, here are five of the best exhibit displays/experiences.


“I Got This Guitar and I Taught It to Talk”

Springsteen’s guitars are featured in the exhibit, but none are as gloriously roadworn and famous as his 1950s Fender Esquire (the display IDs it as 1953-1954). The well-known butterscotch beauty has a Fender Telecaster body and an Esquire neck, and Springsteen used it on the road from 1972 to 2005. It feels as if it still reverberates in its own glass case, with a thousand songs waiting to be played. Those who haven’t seen Springsteen perform it live will recognise it from the album covers for Born to Run, Live 1975-1995, Human Touch, and Wrecking Ball.


“I’ve got debts that no honest man can pay.”

Springsteen writes a charming note to his landlord in an undated letter from the early 1970s, apologising for not paying his rent on time. He adds two endearing postscripts to his letter, addressed to “Dear Landlordess” and written on a torn-out page from a spiral notebook: “P.S.: Do you like this classy writing paper?” “P.S. : I’m working on my autograph.” “What do you think?” In the same case is a scrapbook from the 1970s that his mother kept as his son’s career took off. It was opened to a page with a 1972 Variety review — one of his first — and a postcard from the road from his then-manager, Mike Appel, as a reminder that, like Springsteen, he was once a struggling artist.

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