Bruce Springsteen Reveals the Song That Changed His Life

It's the first song he ever learned, and it's not what you'd expect

Bruce Springsteen playing guitar
Bruce Springsteen performs onstage during The Rainforest Fund 30th Anniversary Benefit Concert at the Beacon Theatre on December 09, 2019.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rainforest Fund

Bruce Springsteen is scheduled to perform as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this weekend, but before he does that, he stopped by The Tonight Show to pay a visit to Jimmy Fallon.

After Fallon recalled a Conan performance from years ago (which, it’s worth noting, the Boss had no memory of) where he got to play the spoons for the legendary musician, the pair talked about Springsteen’s beginnings in music and earliest gigs as a teenager in New Jersey — including the first songs he ever learned how to play.

“The only thing I remember the most is I got up and I sang ‘Twist and Shout,’” Springsteen recalled. “And I’ve been singing it ever since.”

“Was that the first song you ever learned?” Fallon asked.

“That was the first rock song,” Springsteen clarified, before revealing the unexpected track that would set him off on a more than 50-year career. “The first song I ever learned was a song called ‘Greensleeves.’ You can hear the reaction from the audience. ‘Greensleeves’?? He’s playing ‘Greensleeves’? Damn.”

“It was a folk song, and the first thing I had was a big book of American folk music,” he continued. “And so I learned that first because it only had two chords, and eventually I made my way to the third chord, which allowed you to play ‘Twist and Shout.’”

You can watch the full interview, which also delves into Springsteen’s recent album and documentary Letter to You, below.

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