WEST LONG BRANCH -- The "Conversation" at Monmouth University with Bruce Sprinsgteen started with hot chocolate and mini marshmallows, and continued at the same comfort level all evening.

Springsteen sat on the stage at the school's Pollak Theater with Grammy Museum executive director Robert Santelli and took questions for 90 minutes, from an audience made up mostly of students. The questions kept with the music and did not veer deeply into politics.

Springsteen aficionado Tom Cunningham, host of the Bruce Brunch on 105.7 The Hawk, called the evening more of a "love fest" that included Springsteen's wife, fellow E Street Band member Patti Scialfa, and managers Jon Landau and Barbara Carr as well as original E Street drummer Vini Lopez.

While not mentioning President-elect Donald Trump by name, Springsteen echoed comments he made during the presidential campaign explaining why he didn't endorse any candidate.

"Has anybody ever had their mind changed by a song? I met one kid who said it did, but only one. So, I tend to believe music is important to activism in the sense that it stirs passion, it stirs interest, it stirs curiosity, it moves you to question your own beliefs, it strikes straight to your emotions. And it stirs you up inside. After you've heard it, I think it marinates inside of you, and ends up coming out in your own energy," Springsteen said.

Springsteen also joked about a recent report naming New Jersey as the state the most people move away from, according to Billboard.

"After all my hard work," he laughed. "But I made my living writing about moving away from New Jersey, so maybe that has something to do with it."

Monmouth University and Springsteen announced that the school will be home to the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, the official archival repository for Springsteen’s written works, photographs, periodicals, and artifacts.

The school has been home of the Boss' Special Collection since 2011.

"Monmouth University is excited by the opportunity to grow our relationship with Bruce Springsteen. Our partnership has been a natural one -- just steps from Springsteen’s birthplace and the site where Born to Run was written, Monmouth University’s location brilliantly captures the essence of Springsteen’s music while providing the academic heft of one of only nine university affiliates of the Grammy Museum. The establishment of The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music celebrates and reinforces the Jersey Shore’s legacy in the history of American music, while providing a truly transformative experience for our students." -- Monmouth University President Paul R. Brown

Some of the highlights of the evening, according to Cunningham:

  • Springsteen called both the "Nebraska" and "Born In The U.S.A." albums "happy accidents" for different reasons.
  • He cited "Nebraska" as an album that still means a lot to him; same goes for "Tunnel Of Love."
  • Many of the songs that ended up on "Devils & Dust" were written in hotel rooms following shows on the "Ghost Of Tom Joad" tour.
  • He was not all that upset that "American Skin (41 Shots)" managed to "piss some people off."
  • In answer to a question from the audience, he noted that the song "Darkness On Edge Of Town" was only cut once and is a song that is a bedrock of his career. It was the last song cut for the album of the same name.
  • Answering another question from the audience, he called his and the band’s performance at the Super Bowl in 2009 "the most terrifying and exhilarating 12 minutes of my work life."
  • Patti Scialfa is hard at work on her fourth album.
  • He basically dodged the question about having a new album ready for release.

Tom Cunningham, Michele Amabile and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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