Q and A with Jeremy Mullman, creator of SpringsteenSays

Jeremy Mullman works as a senior editor at a communications firm in Chicago, but his claim to fame is a Twitter account that doesn’ even have his name attached to it. Mullman started SpringsteenSays as a “half-tribute/half-social media experiment,” but the account’s popularity exploded after about a month of tweeting and an exchange with Rosanne Cash. About a year and a half later, the 33-year-old father of two can count several celebrities and even the official feed of Springsteen himself among his over 19,000 followers. I got the chance to chat with Mullman this week over email!

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Mullman

Q: When did you first get into Bruce’s music? Was it a particular song or album?

A: I grew up in New York, so Bruce’s music was everywhere. “Born in the USA” was my first cassette tape. I think the first real emotional connection to the music for me came when I was at a summer camp as a kid. There were some counselors who were great guitar players and they’d play songs like “Growin’ Up,” “Thunder Road,” and “Rosalita” as campfire music. I’m not even sure I was totally aware they were all Bruce songs, but when I put that together a light went on, for sure.
Q: Have you ever seen him live? 
A: I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Bruce live about two dozen times, in a half-dozen states. So there are many, many memorable moments. The one that comes immediately to mind was at my very first show, in New Jersey. The band played “Racing in the Street,” and the coda just blew me away. I went into that show a really big fan and came out a fanatic. And that was the moment it happened.
Q:When did you get the idea for the SpringsteenSays Twitter account? What made you want to start it up?
A:I wrote an article about this for Advertising Age. Basically, it started as half-tribute, half-social media experiment. Working in the media, understanding how content moves around the internet has become really important. So I wanted to start a Twitter feed that would have really compelling content that I knew people would want to share. As a big Bruce fan who was already pretty active on Twitter, I knew there really weren’t the kind of lyrics feeds that existed for some other artists, like Bob Dylan. So one morning I just decided to do it. I created Twitter and Facebook pages, and off it went.
Q: Are you the only one who tweets?
A: It’s just me, although I get a lot of suggestions from people who follow the feed. One of the moments when I realized I was on to something was when someone asked me to post lyrics from “If I Should Fall Behind” because he was getting married that weekend. That happened to be the first dance at my own wedding, so I was happy to oblige!
Q: How do you decide what lyrics to post each day?
A: I do get a lot of requests, but a lot of it just comes from my mood or experiences. Bruce has such a vast catalog, it’s amazing how often something that happens during my day reminds me of one of his songs. Sometimes, though, I’ve just got a song stuck in my head for whatever reason.
Q: When did the account start to become popular?
A: The event that really got things going was an exchange with Rosanne Cash about a month after I started the feed. She has a great duet with Bruce on “Sea of Heartbreak,” and I thought it would be fun to tweet his lines at her. She shared them with her followers, and I went from maybe 95 followers to 500 in less than a week after that. And those are music fans, who know other music fans, so things took off from there.
Q: How often do you gain followers?
A: It’s growing at a very fast clip. In fact, it’ll probably break 20,000 followers this week.
Q: You have some pretty prolific followers. Do you remember who the first “famous” person to follow you was?
A: Rosanne Cash was the first celebrity booster for the feed, as I mentioned above. There have been a lot of moments when you get a thrill out of the e-mails that tell you “such and such is now following you.” John Fogerty was a really cool one, and so was Bill Simmons from ESPN. But the biggest by far was Bruce himself, because he only follows about nine accounts. And I realize that it’s probably an intern at Columbia Records who runs the feed, but I’d like to think that, if I send him a DM, it just might get there!
Q: Did any of your followers surprise you?
A: Bruce was pretty unexpected.
Q: What do you gain from running the account?
A: I think I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about how content spreads online, which was sort of the original point. But I’ve also got a great vantage point on this amazing community Bruce has built with his music. It’s really something. Around the time Clarence Clemons passed away, you could really see it. When the news broke that he’d had a stroke, I tweeted the line from “Blood Brothers” about how “We said until we’d die, we’d always be blood brothers,” and it must have been retweeted 500 times.
Q: What does Bruce mean to you?
A: I love the guy’s work, first and foremost. I’ve made my living as a writer, and I think he’s one of the great, great storytellers of his time. But I also think the stories he’s chosen to tell have always resonated with me, too. So it starts there. And, while it’s always a good idea to love the art and not the artist, it’s hard not to admire the way he lives his life and conducts his business. The guy is a millionaire many times over and I’ve seen him literally bleed on stage. He doesn’t have to do that, but clearly he respects the emotional and financial investment his audience has in him.
Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A: If Bruce is reading this, it would be great if he could play “Incident on 57th Street” in Chicago on this tour. One of my favorites and I’m yet to hear it live in 25 shows!

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