Bruce Springsteen debuts “Ghosts” today, a hauntingly joyous love letter to departed bandmates and the undying significance they’ve played in his long career. Recorded live in the studio with the E Street Band, “Ghosts” is the second single from Letter To You, an album of twelve new songs scheduled for release October 23.
“It’s just your ghost/Moving through the night/Your spirit filled with light/I need, need you by my side/Your love and I’m alive”
“Ghosts” is a reaffirmation of the importance the formative years he spent with childhood friends, particularly singer George Theiss, were to the 71-year old rock star, enabling him to craft his musical persona. Theiss, the charismatic lead singer/guitarist in his teenage band the Castiles, passed away in 2018. The ghosts visit often in dreams, providing comfort and strength, now memorialized forever in song. ‘I couldn’t have done it without you and I will never forget your memory,’ Springsteen eulogizes.
“The stone and the gravel in your voice/ Come in my dreams and I rejoice”
The guitar and all its power looms large in Springsteen’s psyche, and a gift of a no-name guitar from a fan several years ago reignited his muse. “Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk” he famously sang to his lover in 1975’s “Thunder Road” On “Ghosts” the guitars come crashing in after he sings “I hear the sound of your guitar” and the E Street Band is off for the ride.
Musically, the song has all the familiar, raucous E Street Band sounds. Max Weinberg’s drums kick in first, Springsteen sings, the band joins the party and the saxophone, played by Jake Clemons in tribute to Clarence Clemons enters at the song’s end. The call and response vocals sing like voices in one’s head, repeating the song’s lyrics, creating a circle of life feel.
Along with current day in the studio shots, the “Ghosts” video features rare film and photos of Springsteen performing with his bands throughout his career. Is the old film footage of an audience watching a band in fact a teaser to long-rumored but never seen live clips of the Castiles performing?
This post was updated to reflect the number of songs on Letter To You