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Bruce Springsteen surprised a packed Madison Square Garden crowd over the weekend when he joined The Killers on stage.

Per Setlist.fm, The Boss joined the band during their three-song encore which consisted of two Springsteen classics — “Badlands” and “Born to Run — and “Dustland.” The song, originally titled “A Dustland Fairytale,” is from the band’s 2008 studio album Day and Age. In June 2021, The Killers re-recorded the track with Springsteen and renamed it “Dustland.”

Killers frontman Brandon Flowers introduced Springsteen onstage saying, “Everyone gets a little nervous when their boss shows up to work, right? I don’t know if you noticed, but me and my friends have been sweating bullets up here all night, because The Boss is here. Ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Springsteen.”

Fan-shot footage from the performance can be viewed below.

“Badlands”

 

“Dustland”

 

“Born to Run”

 

Back when “Dustland” was released, Flowers explained how the collaboration came together. He said he was about to board a plane from JFK airport to Salt Lake City when he receives a text message from a number he doesn’t have saved to his phone.

“‘Watching Glastonbury. You guys have become one hellacious live band my brother! Love the gold suit! We gotta do Dustland one day.’ Signed off with: ‘Bruce,'” recalls Flowers of the text message. “Now I’ve got 3 options here: 1. Some cold-blooded monster is playing a cruel trick on me; 2. It’s Bruce Hornsby. But I haven’t talked with him since 2015ish; or 3. It really is Bruce Springsteen (I forgot to put both Bruce’s numbers in that phone..)”

After Googling the number’s area code and reaching out to Bruce’s son/Flowers’ friend, Evan, he confirmed the text did come from The Boss.

Flowers added that “A Dustland Fairytale” was written about his mother, who was battling brain cancer at the time and would later die in 2010 at age 64.

“It was an attempt to better understand my dad, who is sometimes a mystery to me. To grieve for my mother. To acknowledge their sacrifices and maybe even catch a glimpse of just how strong love needs to be to make it in this world. It was my therapy. It was cathartic,” writes Flowers.

Flowers adds, “That’s where Bruce comes in. Before I really became a fan of his, I was in the business of stadium-size everything. Larger than life EVERYTHING. Certainly larger than the lives of Jeannie and Terry Flowers. But Bruce has written a lot about people like my parents and found a whole lot of beauty in otherwise invisible people’s hopes and dreams. Their struggles, and their losses. I’m grateful to him for opening this door for me. I’m grateful to my parents for their example to me. Now go find something new out about your dad, give your mom a big hug, and for god’s sake listen to Bruce Springsteen.”

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Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.