Book Review: Rock & Roll Books
Born to Run
Reviewed by Libby Webster, Fri., Dec. 9, 2016
Written over seven years – longhand, in the author's notebooks – Born to Run transcends mere fulfillment of fans' desires. Rather, Bruce Springsteen boldly sails a remarkable, fantastical odyssey: Blue-collar kid from small town New Jersey becomes a singular musical embodiment of the American spirit. A bleak family tapestry woven with dysfunction and the burden of an Irish-Italian Catholic upbringing in gray, working-class Freehold, N.J., lays the foundation of a detailed and unabashed account of the singer's youth. Throughout, rejections, shortcomings, and struggles with depression are divulged with unfaltering honesty, an emphasis that elevates the giddiness with which he recounts all the highs: witnessing Elvis on television for the first time, the elation of performing "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" for A&R legend John Hammond at 22, fatherhood, etc. Springsteen also writes at length about each album, tour, and his brotherhood with the E Street Band (predominantly Clarence Clemons and Steven Van Zandt). A walloping 500-plus pages, the book bursts with the same earnest tenacity of his epic concerts. The prose itself thrums electrified, unfiltered need, punctuated by an East Coast staccato. ("About my voice. First of all, I don't have much of one.") Less a formal autobiography, Born to Run instead rides shotgun in one of Bruce Springsteen's beloved "suicide machines."
Born to Runby Bruce Springsteen
Simon & Schuster, 528 pp., $32.50