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Bruce Springsteen: ‘My childhood was the church, the church, the church’

Bruce Springsteen on stage in Atlanta earlier this year (AP)

Legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen has said that his childhood memories revolve around the Catholic Church.

During a conversation with presenter Kirsty Young on the radio programme Desert Island Discs yesterday, Springsteen was asked what the earliest memories of his childhood were.

Springsteen, who is of Irish and Italian ancestry, replied: “It’s always the church, the church, the church. I think because it was the centre of our existence.”

He continued: “I think the thing I remember the most was the tall steeple at the end of the corner and the red bricks of the church. It was your second home. You lived there every Sunday and Friday.

“We saw every wedding every funeral in town because we lived next door so there was always a show going on. Someone was always getting married or getting dead so it was an enormous centre of my childhood life.”

In his recently published memoir, Born to Run, Springsteen writes about his strict Catholic education: “My knuckles classically rapped, my tie pulled ’til I choked… All business as usual in Catholic school in the fifties. Still, it left a mean taste in my mouth and estranged me from my religion for good.”

Later, Springsteen concedes, he “came to ruefully and bemusedly understand that once you’re a Catholic you’re always a Catholic.” He adds, “I don’t participate in my religion but I know somewhere…deep inside…I’m still on the team.”

Throughout the interview Springsteen also discussed his difficult relationship with his father.

In his 1987 song, Walk Like A Man, which describes conversation between Springsteen and his dad, he refers to his childhood memories of Catholic family life: “By Our Lady of the Roses, we lived in the shadow of the elms. I remember ma draggin’ me and my sister up to the church whenever she heard those wedding bells.”

During the interview Springsteen listed eight songs which he would take to a desert island including Hound Dog by Elvis Presley, I Wanna Hold Your hand by the Beatles and Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone.

He said that if he could save just one record it would be Dylan’s and he said his luxury item would be a guitar.