In an exclusive interview and performance on The Howard Stern Show, Bruce Springsteen played his 1987 song “Tougher Than the Rest” and revealed how he originally wrote the track. From his Tunnel of Love album, “Tougher Than the Rest” would later become a song he’d perform during his Broadway show, oftentimes with his wife of over 30 years, Patti Scialfa.
Looking back on their relationship, Springsteen told Stern, “[Scialfa and I] were both these sort of outsiders. And we came together, and we just sort of made that promise, like, ‘Okay, this is the one that we make work. This is the one that we do the things that it takes to make work.’ And we both, you know, just operated on — we took that vow, and we were married long before I say we actually got married. We’ve been together for about 33 or 34 years.”
Scialfa became a member of the E Street Band for Springsteen’s 1984 Born in the U.S.A. Tour. They’ve been married since 1991.
“I really can’t do [‘Tougher Than the Rest’] appropriately without Patti,” Springsteen said. “This was a song that — it’s probably my best love song, maybe, because it’s so understated.”
Trying to understand Springsteen’s creative process behind a song like “Tougher Than the Rest,” Stern asked him, “Do you sit in a room by yourself and have a special journal that you write in? A special pen? I mean, how does this work?”
“First thing you want is a good metaphor or a good title,” Springsteen explained. “If you hook onto that, that takes you a really long ways down the road. So, ‘Tougher Than the Rest’ is a good title.”
Listen to Springsteen’s full explanation behind “Tougher Than the rest,” plus his new album and thoughts on retirement, on his full interview with Stern on the SXM App now.
Recently, Springsteen announced that he’s releasing a new album of soul covers titled Only the Strong Survive — his first covers album since his 2006 LP We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions — out November 11. Produced by Rob Aniello, Only the Strong Survive will feature guest vocals by Sam Moore, contributions from The E Street Horns, full string arrangements by Rob Mathes, and backing vocals by Soozie Tyrell, Lisa Lowell, Michelle Moore, Curtis King Jr., Dennis Collins, and Fonzi Thornton.
You can see Springsteen on tour with the E Street Band throughout North America and Europe starting in February. Earlier this year, he said on E Street Radio (Ch. 20) that he’s “just aching to play … to travel and see our fans in all those distant cities.”