From Bruce Springsteen: A Secret History:
What’s your talent? Your talent is … it’s something that everyone experiences first of all. Everybody has a memory where they remember … why do you remember when you were 11 years old, and you were walking down a particular street on a certain day, and the trees … there was a certain wind blowing through the trees, and the sound your feet made on the stones as you came up the drive. You know? And the way the light hit a particular house. Everyone has memories that they carry with them for no explicable reason. And these things, whether you call them sense memories, or … but they live within you, they are an essential part of who you are. And they may not be connected to any specific event. There was … you had some moment of pure experience that stayed with you. Not where something happened, maybe nothing happened. But for some reason on that particular day you had some moment of pure experience that revealed to you what it meant to be alive. What it means to be alive. What the stakes are. The wind on a given day. How important it is you know? Or what you can do with your life can be brought back to you by the sound of your feet on gravel at a certain moment.
That’s the writer’s job. The writer collects and creates those moments from out of your own experience and the world that you see around you. And then you use your imagination and you put those things together and you present that experience to your audience who then experience their own inner vitality, their own centre, their own questions about their own life and their moral life, their … whatever you are writing about. You know? And there’s a connection made. That’s your job. That’s what you are paid for.
You put something on, and somebody says, ‘I’m not alone’. You put something on about the way people treat one another. Those are the things that you are … that alchemy, or whatever you want to call it, is what I think you’re paid for. And you can do it on stage at night, doesn’t necessarily have to be done literally. It can be done just through an explosion of energy at a particular moment in a particular way that makes someone want to stand up, moves themselves, do any … go home and do whatever they feel they need to do. You know? And you try to make … you try to bring forth experience and get people in touch with all of those things in their world. That’s the real job. That’s the job that keeps you writing. That’s what keeps you writing that next song. Because you can do it. Because if I am doing it for you then I’m doing it for me.