If you’re a Bruce Springsteen fan – or even if you have an affection for his music – “Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You” is a don’t-miss documentary.
Springsteen is 71 now, and in this black-and-white film he looks back on his friendships and career, including the time he spent in the 1960s as a teen-age musician in the band The Castiles (now he’s the only living member of that group, reflected in the song “Last Man Standing.”)
“We’re taking this thing till we’re all in a box,” he tells the E Street Band while they record their latest “Letter to You” album over four days in Springsteen’s home studio.
Springsteen introduces the new songs while we see the band in action, the winter environment around the studio, and some home movie clips from when Springsteen was a child.
A lot of the tunes contain a spirituality. “The Power of Prayer” acknowledges music as almost a religion: As Ben E. King’s voice fills the air, baby, that’s the power of prayer.” It’s one of my favorites from the album, with its unmistakable Springsteen beat and a timelessness that would fit in one of many musical decades.
Many of the songs are just plain pretty. I can’t get the tune for “House of a Thousand Guitars” or “The Prayer of Prayer” out of my head – in fact, I’m listening to the album while I write this. I’m a longtime fan of The Boss, and he doesn’t disappoint here.
In “House of a Thousand Guitars,” he references the immortality that is music: “Here the bitter and the bored – Wake in search of the lost chord – That’ll band us together for as long as there’s stars. Yeah, in the house of a thousand guitars.”
All the while, the camera focuses intimately on Springsteen and the musicians, each with a few more creases, maybe, since last year’s “Western Stars.”
Its themes are common ones, especially as we age: How do we come to terms with our pasts … and our mortality?
I hope he doesn’t finish his musical letter to fans for years to come.
4 out of 4 stars
Streaming on Apple+
Running time: 90 minutes.