How Bruce Springsteen Lent Clarity to 'High Fidelity'

L-R: John Cusack and Bruce Springsteen in 'High Fidelity'
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video screenshot/Touchstone Pictures

The 2000 film High Fidelity caused countless record collectors to see themselves represented in a major motion picture - and, with any luck, think a little bit about their life choices up to that point.

Based on Nick Hornby's brilliant novel, the movie stars John Cusack as a sad-sack record store manager in Chicago whose breakup with a longtime girlfriend causes him to revisit his trials and tribulations in love. He adjusts to life without his partner, Laura, as well as life with his store staff, a cadre of musical know-it-alls led by a scene-stealing Jack Black.

One of the most memorable scenes was, like so many book-to-film transitions, invented just for the movie. Cusack's Rob devises a plan to reconnect with his "top five" exes as a way of getting some sort of closure. "Just see 'em and talk to them, like a Bruce Springsteen song," he says to himself. Cut to The Boss himself, strumming his guitar and outlining Rob's reasons for doing so. "You call and ask 'em how they are, see if they've forgiven you," Bruce agrees. "They feel good, maybe - but you'd feel better."

READ MORE: June 1984: Bruce Springsteen Releases "Born in the U.S.A."

The brief exchange had root in the pages of High Fidelity - at one point Rob wishes he had Springsteen's panache addressing old flames as in the Born in the U.S.A. deep cut "Bobby Jean" - but legend has it that Bob Dylan was an early choice who turned them down. Cusack, who co-wrote the screenplay for the film, had never guessed anyone would say yes.

"We just through putting [Bruce] in there would make a good read for the studio and get them all excited," he told The New York Times. "But I had met him socially, so I thought even though he's going to say no, I may as well call him...he kind of just laughed at the idea and said 'Send me a script.'" The result: a great rock 'n' roll moment from one of the true torchbearers of the genre.

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