NEW YORK – The myth about Bruce Springsteen is that he's a shy, introverted artist who only reluctantly agrees to be interviewed.
But that couldn't be farther from the truth. While he sometimes takes years to resurface, he's hardly a wallflower when it comes time to launch a new project.
His latest media blitz, set to kick off tomorrow morning with the release of his new album, The Rising, is strikingly similar to the one four years ago that went along with the release of Bruce Springsteen: Tracks, the four-CD set containing 66 songs.
Back then, the TV portion of the blitz included a two-part interview with Bob Costas on the Today show (some of which was also showcased on Dateline the same week), plus a VH1 Legends special, which included an interview.
This time around, it isn't Costas, but ABC's Ted Koppel who gets to pose the deep questions to Bruce as they sit on a couple of lawn chairs in the backyard of Bruce's house in Colt's Neck.
The interview, taped last week, will be seen tomorrow night on both Nightline and UpClose.
Earlier in the day, NBC's Today show will originate entirely (beginning at 7 a.m.) from Asbury Park, where Bruce and his E Street Band will perform live. There's also a bunch of interview material taped earlier with Matt Lauer, who hung out with the Boss last week.
And at week's end, Bruce and the band will appear on two consecutive nights — Thursday and Friday — on Late Show with David Letterman (both shows are to be taped Thursday).
In addition, Bruce is on the cover of this week's Time magazine, out today, and Rolling Stone, out later this week.
And yet, such is Bruce's aura as the Reluctant Interviewee that Koppel and the cast and crew of the Today show all made pilgrimages to New Jersey, rather than have Bruce come up to the city and visit them.
Wherever he agrees to be interviewed, having the opportunity to catch Bruce Springsteen talking or performing on television is not an everyday occurrence.
The last time he sang on U.S. television appears to have been in February 1999 when he joined his drummer, Max Weinberg, and the Max Weinberg Seven on Late Night with Conan O'Brien to sing "Working on the Highway." The occasion marked Max's last evening on Late Night before he went on leave to tour with Bruce.
And anyone who's seen Springsteen perform in person knows that he's the consummate showman whose enthusiasm for his job is unquestionable.
His interviews, on the other hand, tend to be rather somber, as if Bruce has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Here's what I hope to see on Today and Nightline that I've rarely seen: Bruce Springsteen laughing.