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« June 21, 2013

Springsteen on Springsteen

Nobody knows the Boss better than the Boss knows the Boss
Review by Raoul Hernandez

Springsteen on Springsteen

edited by Jeff Burger
Chicago Review Press, 428 pp., $27.95

At South by Southwest 2012, Music keynote Bruce Springsteen spoke for 50 minutes, less than half as long as Quincy Jones' epic address three years earlier, but twice as rousing. Funny, insightful, and historic, it struck a literal "keynote" for "five days of bands [playing] hundreds of venues from morning 'til night." Missing his Moody siege that night smarts one scintilla less, because while his every live performance over 40 years makes up Springsteen's prodigious legend, his oration remains an altogether rarer resource. Subtitled "Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters," Springsteen on Springsteen closes with a transcript of his SXSW ballad, alongside a last-act cull of his induction of U2 into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a Charlie Rose television interview, and celebrity sit-downs with Nick Hornby, Ed Norton, and Win Butler. By then, you've fallen in love with the Boss (he hates that nickname) all over again. Beginning with his first interviews in 1973 and arcing like one of his songs though every subsequent high and low, from Born to Run's backlash and Born in the U.S.A defense (with onetime Statesman critic Don McLeese) to his eulogy for Clarence Clemons in 2011, consider this the printed equivalent of the subject's sprawling Live/1975-85 collection: pure and unfettered. When a Jersey alt-weekly writer finds himself flying down the highway with Springsteen to the blare of Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" – "the speed, the music, the sun, the company. Jeezez Christ!" – so too will your hungry heart swell.

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