Bruce Springsteen’s legend as a rock performer is assured. From his soundscapes of wide-screen Americana, his songs of finding love, hope and redemption in the dreams of our youth, and a fast car, his deeply held friendships with his on the road and in the studio brothers the E-Street band, this is an auto-biography that is as well drawn as any of the characters we find in any of his songs.
Springsteen famously claimed that he learnt more from a three minute record than he ever did in School, and his deep affections for the music of folk troubadours such as Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, the aching melancholy of Roy Orbison’s vocals and the strands of soul, funk and blues which forms the bedrock of his music is well served.
We see the 1950’s monochrome of Springsteen’s early years, spent with his large Catholic family in small houses, his troubled relationship with his father, and his own struggles with self-doubt, and wanting to always make the best albums he could, with the best songs that would appeal to his many fans around the world.
There are many strands in the book, which at nearly 500 pages, packs a lot Springsteen’s career and life in. His time as a father, and the separation that a life on the road enforces is well drawn, but so to is his adoration and loyalty to his wife, and the E-Street Band, able to put up with the Boss’s attention to detail, his ever changing set list, and three-hour plus shows, which would put many sportsmen to shame.
Although there is very little here about Bruce Springsteen’s practice as a song-writer, and his way of putting songs together in a way that largely appeals to both his fans, and the critics, which would be a book in itself, this is a fine, well drawn account of a life lived one song at a time, and a gig to look forward to.
Review by Ben Macnair
Published in 2017 by Simon & Schuster,
paperback, ISBN 978-1471157820