We went a little off tangent on the Archive release thread in regards to this, and while @Jerseyfornia's original question was to the ladies of the forum about when the peak of physical sexuality was, I thought it might be ok for the male demographic on here with what they think his peak(s) of coolness are.
To start us off, I'm gonna go old school with a good old fashioned list. And to make it more enjoyable/less tedious, here are 18 photos representing 18 eras (kind of) - in reverse!
18. Early to mid 2016 - I still don't know if it's the haircut, the lack of facial soul-patch, loose clothing or a combination of the lot, but something is very off about the way he looked here. Thankfully as the year progressed he changed it up for the better, as we'll see later on.
17. 2003 - I think this is only second worst for me on account of not being a fan at the time, but aye, speaks for itself really.
16. 1976 #1 - There are two sides, I believe, to his appearance at this stage of the Chicken Scratch Tour, and this is the lesser of them. By far.
15. 1995 - 1997 - Honestly, there's nothing wrong with his Joad Tour look, but I wouldn't call it 'cool' in the typical Springsteen sense.
14. 2005 - He also looked similar to this in 2006 (not included) and from 2007-08 (included), but this is #14 because his 'coolness' was affected by what can be called a bit of crankiness across the Devils & Dust Tour.
13. 2008 - As can be seen, quite similar to the above and the culmination of Bruce's pre-hair transplant days. Given #13 because rock and roll Magic Bruce is cooler than 'cranky' D&D Bruce.
12. 1992 - I was interested reading JF's praise for this era, mainly because I've always felt he was just on the brink of looking like he was having a mid-life crisis with his get-up. (I guess that was just the early 90s in general, though?)
Eleven (typing it out as 11 is turning into 1). 2018 - The Broadway look is the antithesis of early 2016. Cool short hair, simple black t-shirt and jeans. What else can be said?
10. 2000 - Tbh I don't think the picture does it justice, but we've all watched Live in New York City enough to know his look in mid 2000 was class. There was some questionable facial hair and shirts in 1999, but MSG for the win.
This is a long OP, so I'm gonna continue the rest of the top 10 in the comments. Hang tight!
I saw this photo somewhere and thought it was a very appealing look for Bruce.
I really didn’t like these beard goatee things when they first came out, but they grew on my over the years.
Too slick for my taste, but gray hair in general means hard-earned experience and wisdom, and that's usually a plus..
He looks fragile and skinny, that's more worrying than his gray hair.
Bringing this thread back because I believe we have a new 'contender'. Having now fully embraced his grey hair, where do we think this incarnation of Bruce stands?*
*He's standing on the Colbert stage here, but that's not what I meant...
BITUSA-era Bruce will always be #1, and especially 1985. It definitely has something to do with it being the year I became a fan.
I'd have to say that Bruce from that era (and to some extent The River) had an impact on the way I dress, of what clothes I like to wear. I'm not adventurous at all when it comes to clothung, and I prefer either jeans and a flannel shirt (there's the Springsteen influence) or hiking pants and a wool sweater. My eldest son also likes flannel shirts, what are the odds...
Back in '85, when I was twelwe, I couldn't wait to grow sideburns. Was I disappointed when my beard growth - what little there was when I was 16, 17 - was far from good enough to have sideburns. It still isn't good enough, btw. I did manage to grow a goatee in '95, so there was that...
I would like to see Bruce with a full beard again now, though.
If the guy wrote, arranged, and recorded Darkness on the Edge of Town, Backstreets, Walk Like a Man, Living Proof, My Father's House, Tougher Than the Rest, Western Stars, and Lost in the Flood....He can wear anything in the world he wants. His music has changed lives.
I also am no fan of the Stetson (or as my wife calls it, that stupid fucking cowboy hat), and wondered why it wasn't mentioned. I will say, he seems really comfortable with it. Not for me, but neither was the bolo tie from the 80s.
Nobody mentioned the WS look?!
I'm not a fan of the cowboy hat, but he did look good, his image blended well with the scenery, and also with the album, thematically.
He must feel comfortable with that look because he hasn't changed it for the Jeep commercial.
When he hit the stage in 1980 in Hartford, my immediate reaction was "The Clash!!" The hair, the sideburns, the dark clothes. I saw the Clash a year earlier, and he would have fit right in. My favorite look.
That list seems quite nice, although I would probably switch #2 with #1 and put the Broadway look a bit higher.
I'm probably the worst guy to talk fashion or style, but I've always found Bruce's look from the U.S. leg of the High Hopes tour underrated, I think he looked like a badass with the beard and that jacket.
Boy, that was deep. I need a drink. 😊
One thing needs to be said to avoid misunderstandings. What makes Bruce appealing to me surpasses his physical appearance and is the combination - I presume it's the deadly one - of a fairly good-looking guy, with an uncontrollable drive, charisma, and an unpretentious, loose approach. On top of that, he possesses the most important quality, the ability to have something meaningful to say. There's substance behind the facade which I believe is genuinely altruistic, even though he walks around like a vain peacock sometimes.
I was listening to the latest I'm On Fire thinking about what exactly makes this song erotic. Neither of my answers had anything to do with how Bruce looks/looked. It is his voice, his pronunciation, how he interprets the story, and builds the tense atmosphere. He was thinking about Patti while he was singing in 88, I have always been thinking about my particular man - since I was 16, a few different have starred in this song, and they had made the song sexy, it was never Bruce, not the person, nor his looks.
What I'm trying to say - and would assume Bruce understands as his lifelong mission - is that he only builds the settings for our emotions to go wild. That's where we connect. That's what he talks about in the BTR intro. It's a neverland, an imaginary state of mind. It's the place we hide and seek shelter in. Bruce will only paint the setting, and we're on our own to make the most of it.
I have so much to say ... 😇 Several posts will follow.
First things first, when I was a teenager I never regarded Bruce as sexy. He was more like an older brother, showing me the world from a male perspective... I don't know why I never noticed he was handsome. Until the Ocsars, I remember watching him on that stage, and saying WOW ...
I'm secure enough to say Bruce will always be Born in the USA Bruce.
Well, being as my default look has been "scruffy bastard" pretty much my whole life, I lean towards 75 # 1.
I've always liked a waistcoat as well, casual rather than "Steve Arnott", so I'm drawn to those looks.
I've always liked a soul-patch also, wife won't let me grow one ........." wife beater" she calls them, so I'm usually to be found sporting a goatee (variously operating at different levels of unkemptness) so that, and the fact I rocked a ponytail for a period before finally giving in to male pattern baldness, imbibes a fondness for Joad.
Hell, I don't know!
His '92 look was what I call biker fancy.
9. 2017 - After the early 2016 debacle, he definitely sorted it out for Oz/NZ the next January/February. I think it has something to do with his face looking a bit more rugged?
8. 2009 - There were also some questionable looks in 2009 - See the Nassau 2009 Archive release artwork, but as Hyde Park shows, this year was the start of four years of mint looks for Bruce.
7. 1975 - I'm not a massive lover of scrappy '75 Bruce, and initially had this lower. However after doing one last look through of the photos, I'd have been a mug for not properly acknowledging this incarnation.
6. 1976 #2 - The other side of the '76 coin shows a clean shaven, almost clean cut Springsteen. Aka, a superstar on the brink.
5. 1988 - The era that started this thing. Is it his peak of physical sexuality? Maybe. What's for sure is that he looks cool as ice.
4. 1985 - To properly appreciate this era comes with egregious 'he looked like Rambo' comments, but at least he looked cool.
3. 2013 - He was 64 years old here. At 16 years old I would have loved to look like this. Still would, to be perfectly honest.
2. 1981 - How to pull off having sideburns correctly. This era was originally my #1, but I couldn't find any pictures of River era Bruce as cool as the actual #1.
1. 1978 - Following 1976 #2 with the slightest of stubble and bit more of a brooding side, although the picture below doesn't highlight the latter. I guess the comment would be "if only wearing a leather jacket and white t-shirt was that easy."
I hope you've enjoyed this run-through on what will likely become our equivalent of the 'Just Bruce' thread, and thank you for your time.
What's your #1?