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Pitts: Springsteen at 71 wrestling with mortality

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Pitts: Springsteen at 71 wrestling with mortality

Bruce Springsteen is wrestling with death.

You hear him as you float high above leafless trees dusted with snow. The scene, captured in creamy tones of black and white, is one of beauty almost unbearably elegiac, sacred in its stillness.

Then he speaks, giving words to a truth all too familiar to anyone who has lived long enough to see skin grow loose and hair turn thin and gray.

“Age,” he says. “Age brings perspective and the fine clarity one gets at midnight on the tracks, looking into the lights of an oncoming train. It dawns on you rather quickly, there’s only so much time left. Only so many star-filled nights, snowfalls, brisk fall afternoons, rainy midsummer days.”

All this is from “Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You,” the Apple TV documentary on the making of Springsteen’s new album of the same name.

It is, he tells you on film, a suite of songs born on a deathbed. Meaning that they were written after a vigil with George Theiss who, before he was a 68-year-old carpenter stricken with lung cancer, was a teenager playing in a Jersey Shore band called the Castiles with his girlfriend’s brother, Bruce Springsteen.