BOOK REVIEW: ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen

Finished 1/26/17 at 9:32 pm

Looking young, Bruce!

Bruce, I hold, could just have easily been a writer rather than a songwriter. Although he is admittedly great in his role as the latter, he shows more than enough promise in Born to Run to prove he could have a career in the former with ease.

Starting with his upbringing in Long Branch as someone split between Italian and Irish heritage (but with a last name that is neither — a situation I definitely feel kinship), through each of his major records and tours (including personal ones like Nebraska to cultural zeniths like Born in the USA) to the present day, Bruce writes in an honest and almost lyrical (forgive me for the cheesiness of that adverb) fashion that makes a 500+ read go buy much more quickly than you expect.

Bruce’s Led Zeppelin inspired band, ‘Steel Mill’. Love the long locks, Bruce!

I entered this book with a low expectation (similar to David Foster Wallace’s opinion on the inevitable disappointment with sports biographies he describes in How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart in Consider the Lobster) but came away more than impressed, specifically with the vulnerability Bruce displays w/r/t his complex relationship with his father and his own struggles with mental illness.

This is not a book that you’d expect to read from a “rock star” — I believe it illuminates the particular time and place he grew up and found his place in (one I appreciate personally, as Philadelphia and South Jersey are cultural siblings in many ways) as well as the struggles and triumphs that come with living life so intensely. I feel it’s courageous writing, one that isn’t being done for the dollar but is instead a gift — a chance to wipe away the veneer placed over cultural icons of “cool” to see what really lies beneath, appealing or no.