When Bruce Springsteen was invited to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to perform alongside the musical icon of Bob Dylan it, as one might imagine, proved to be an opportunity too lucrative to turn down. Not because the performance would help Springsteen in any financial or even artistic way but because The Boss is perhaps the biggest Bob Dylan fan you’ll ever meet.
The singer has covered the freewheelin’ troubadour on countless occasions over the years but he has rarely had the chance to sing alongside the mercurial songwriter. What’s more, he also got to share a mic with the esteemed member of Rock Hall and Nobel winner too. The occasion, the 1995 edition of the annual gala, saw Dylan and Springsteen get up to perform a quite stunning version the iconic track ‘Forever Young’. The pair had enjoyed some history at the show, too.
It was Bruce Springsteen, perhaps the ultimate ‘man of the people’, who was the singer chosen to induct Bob Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1988. The ‘Born To Run’ singer recalled during that induction that the first time he heard a Bob Dylan album (Highway 61 Revisited, in 1965), Dylan’s performance “thrilled and scared me.”
The singer continued: “It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does. But it reached down and touched what little worldliness I think a 15-year-old kid, in high school, in New Jersey had in him at the time.” Later in the speech he proclaimed, Bob Dylan “was the brother that I never had,” quoting from the man’s own song ‘Lenny Bruce’. It was a moment of gratitude from one rock star to the other, one currently dominating the charts and one gravitating towards his legendary status. But the real connection the pain felt was shared within the music.
Springsteen has also called Dylan’s classic song ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ his all-time favourite tune. “It’d have to be ‘Like A Rolling Stone’,” says The Boss, having selected the track latterly in a conversation on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs. “This could be at the top of the list,” says Springsteen when selecting Bob Dylan’s iconic song. The star reflects, “The first time I heard it, it came out of the radio. I didn’t know anything about Dylan’s acoustic music. I was a creature of top 40, so the first time I really heard him with this song, it just instantly started to change my life.”
It acts as the perfect backdrop for this duet. Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, arguably some of the finest songwriters America has ever produced, sharing the stage to sing ‘Forever Young’. First appearing on 1973’s Planet Waves, the track only really picked up steam when The Band covered it, except, of course, if you were a devoted fan like Springsteen.
That is certainly the most beautiful part of this footage, Springsteen acts, for all intents and purposes, like a fan who has picked up a guitar and managed to fool security into letting him play with his hero. A talented fan, maybe—but a fan nevertheless. Springsteen’s performance is practised and perfected and even provides some guide ropes for Dylan himself. What makes this doubly brilliant is the fact it’s clear Dylan holds just as much respect for his contemporary on the stage. Dylan leans into the duet and may even crack a smile or two while performing.
So, while below there’s some rarely seen footage of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen performing together, two icons of their day, it could quite easily be the ramshackle jam of two friends in the bar, banging their empty glasses for a beat and singing their hearts out.