Jo Lopez "Springsteen and I," playing at 7:30 p.m. Monday at several area theaters, strings together crowdsourced fan memories.

Documentary 'Springsteen and I' puts Boss fans center stage

Published: Thursday, Jul. 18, 2013 - 4:45 pm | Page 20TICKET
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 9:54 am

Oct. 19, 2009, marks the greatest day of Nick Ferraro's life – the time Elvis sang with Bruce Springsteen.

Except it was Ferraro dressed as Elvis. The 52-year-old sales manager from Pennsylvania attended a Springsteen concert in costume, hoping to draw The Boss's attention as well as an invite to sing onstage in front of thousands.

And that's what happened.

"It was unbelievable," Ferraro said.

That moment will play in theaters across the country as part of "Springsteen and I," a documentary exploring the connection between musicians and fans.

But make no mistake – Springsteen ties everything together and there's plenty of him in this film.

"Springsteen and I" is scheduled to play in seven theaters across the Sacramento area at 7:30 p.m. Monday. It's a one-time digital broadcast, more like an event or a concert than a standard movie.

Directed by Baillie Walsh, the documentary was inspired by National Geographic's "Life in a Day," weaving crowdsourced pieces together into a single narrative (filmmaker Ridley Scott produced both documentaries).

For "Springsteen," that narrative is a slightly disjointed look at the die-hard fan experience, pivoting around a handful of memorable memories such as Ferraro's night as Elvis.

"I wanted it to be the fans' voices," Walsh said. "I didn't want to feel present within the film."

Other than the archival concert footage – some of it rare – "Springsteen and I" relies exclusively on clips from fans. Walsh said more than 2,000 people submitted 300-plus hours' worth of footage for consideration.

The final mix is a hodgepodge of varying quality; cellphones and webcams are prominent, with people explaining why Springsteen is so important to them.

"I was amazed by the love they have for him, and the effort they gave for this film," Walsh said. "I was truly blown away."

Walsh said he got Springsteen's permission to make the documentary, but the musician had no other involvement in it.

Nevertheless, Springsteen was the perfect nexus for the film, Walsh said, because he's remained relevant for decades, selling more than 120 million albums worldwide and winning 20 Grammy Awards. At 63, he still sells out arenas domestically and overseas.

And in Walsh's opinion, Springsteen's 2012 release "Wrecking Ball" is some of his finest work, creating new legions of fans.

"He's a storyteller that inspires storytellers," Walsh said. "He crosses generations."

In "Springsteen," fans range from under 10 to over 70.

For Elvis-impersonating Ferraro, the documentary was a time machine to the past. Ferraro discovered Springsteen in 1975 when he was a freshman in high school – around the time Springsteen's third album, "Born to Run," was released.

"I don't know what it was – the words, the music – but it reached me immediately," he said.

Springsteen became the soundtrack to his life. A high school athlete, Ferraro would listen to "Rosalita" before games; for jogging, it would be "Born to Run."

Walsh said he understands the mnemonic power of music.

"People remember moments of their lives through songs," he said. "It's like a perfume, a scent that takes you back in time."


What: Sacramento-area screenings of the documentary about Bruce Springsteen's fans and music

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Cost: $12-$15


Call The Bee's Janelle Bitker, (916) 321-1027. Follow her in Twitter @JanelleBitker.

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