This is a bit of a lie too. I finished this last weekend.
What’s it about?
The musician. He’s old-ish now, but he wasn’t always.
Why do I care?
Springsteen is one of the most important musical and cultural figures of the 2nd half of the 20th century. He was monstrously huge before you were born.
I used to be a huge Springsteen fan. When I was 14,15,16, his stories of escape from dead-end towns, bad parents, and relationships busted open by circumstances out of control meant everything to me. He was, for all intents and purposes, singing TO me. And he isn’t that great of a technical singer, so I thought I could do what he was doing.
Why should I read it?
Because this isn’t a story about music. Bruce came from where you likely did. Maybe worse. He was dirt poor. It’s a story about survival, resilience, and a refusal to give up, in the personage of a kid born to a bi-polar father, a mom who worked just to hold the house together, a kid trying to fit in who finds his thing when he gets his first guitar.
Bruce’s life reads like an impossible movie and his lyrics, especially in the early days, read like poetry. Even if you don’t like the music, the story is a revelation.
It’s also a warts-and-all bio. Bruce gave access to everyone and told them to speak freely. And boy do they. Bruce has hurt a lot of people, including his own band members, which is why this is a must-read. It’s NOT A fluff piece.
You said you used to be a Springsteen fan. What happened?
It’s not that I don’t like him, but nothing he’s done has matched the intensity of his 2nd, 3rd and 4th albums – The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Born To Run, and Darkness on the Edge of Town. You should listen to all 3. Wild and Innocent is a street band, all funky getting its sound together. Born To Run is that same band at the peak of its powers, as Bruce sang: “chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected and stepping out over the line”. Darkness is just that. Dark. Hard. Heavy. The sound of a guy who seen the bad side of things, the bad side of life, the bad side of people. But he’s still resilient, beaten but unbroken. “Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man. And I believe in the Promised Land.”
Born To Run, studio
and live in 1975
Jungleland – from Born To Run, performed in 2001 NYC
The story of the kid known as Magic Rat and his death in a street fight
from The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Badlands, from Darkness on the Edge of Town, live in London 2009