Bruce Springsteen hails 'very beautiful relationship' with wife and talks about depression

Bruce Springsteen’s wife Patti Scialfa is one of the major reasons he is able to pull himself “back into his life” amid bouts of depression, the rock star has said.

Speaking to Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4′s Desert Island Discs, Bruce revealed how fellow musician Patti’s unique understanding of him led to a “very beautiful relationship”.

The American singer-songwriter also opened up about the strained relationship he had with his father during his “chaotic” childhood and into adulthood, and how these shaped his career.

Bruce, 67, started working with Patti in 1984 when she joined his E Street Band.

They began a relationship in the late 1980s before marrying in 1991, and they have three children together.

He told Kirsty: “Patti is a great songwriter and very distinctive and original voice. Patti joined the band literally days before we went out on tour in 1984 and it was years later, I guess three or four years later, we got together as a couple.

“It was very interesting. I hadn’t been involved with another musician before and so she had a lot of understanding of where I was coming from and some of the choices I make and a little bit about the twisted parts of my personality that she knew how to handle and live with better than some of my other relationships.

“It was a lovely beginning to what’s been a very beautiful relationship.”

Of his depression, detailed by Bruce in his recently published memoir Born To Run, he said it stems from coming from a family of mental illness sufferers.

Asked by Kirsty how he comes back from moments that he previously described as being “close to the abyss”, Bruce said: “Patti’s very helpful, and sometimes just time.

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“Or sometimes the correct medication, you need the right drugs. That can really help also.

“These are all things that can pull you back into your life, and certainly in my case how blessed my life has been.”

Kirsty asked Bruce, best known for his hits Born To Run and Born In The USA, about his relationship with his father Douglas, who died in 1998.

They had a tense relationship, particularly in the musician’s childhood, and he has written that his father “loved me but he couldn’t stand me”.

He said: “My dad had a gruff exterior but inside he was really… he could be quite soft and sensitive.

“The qualities he had inside are things I wore on the outside. And they were just difficult for him to deal with.

“I might have reminded him of his own frailties in some day, or fragility, so it was just a terrible cross-current of emotion that went on between us.

“We sorted through some of it as he got older and as I got older but it was sad when I was young.”

To this day, he still wears his father’s clothes when performing on stage.

Bruce said: “I constantly go back and put my father’s clothes on and I walk out on stage and I present some version of him and myself at night to my audience.

“And why am I doing that? I’m trying to find the piece of it that would lead to a certain sort of transcendence over those circumstances that I grew up in.

“These are all things I’m working out on stage at night and why people come to see us.”

Bruce said he has tried to maintain a high level of control throughout his career because of his experiences as a child.

He said: “I come from a chaotic childhood, I felt, and so what I was interested in doing was creating some order.

“A safe environment for myself, because my childhood felt very unsafe, and a structure where I can express myself freely and grow into a man.”

After choosing songs including Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Bruce chose his guitar as a luxury item and Joe Klein’s Woody Guthrie: A Life as his book to keep as a desert island castaway.

Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.

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