Thursday, October 05, 2017

Review of Born to Run – Autobiography of Bruce Springsteen

I recently finished this 500 or so page book. I knew before I even started it, I would love it. Springsteen’s music was formative for me growing up and his concerts are moving and electrifying and he rightfully calls them revivals. In one way, I was curious about the man whose music affected me. I was also curious how much of my perception would be different then what he writes about himself.  Although I can nitpick here and there, the book is a well written book. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Springsteen is a great writer of songs which tell stories. The book is at times a series of vignettes that seem like Flannery O’conner short stories. He looks back on his life adding flourishing descriptors and with a psychological perspective trying to make sense of it all. I appreciated the stories of the struggle of his upbringing on the Jersey Shore, his persistence of breaking into music, his struggle to get the “right sound”, his struggle with the business side of the music industry, his struggles with relationships  and how he dealt with stardom. He goes into depth about his relationship with his Family, especially his father and how that was formative for him.  I also Shamelessly admit (although there was not much about it,) I enjoyed that he did write briefly about his first marriage and why it failed. (my perception was wrong about this)  Another important topic that he touched on was his battle with depression and his seeking help for it. Although he has mentioned it in interviews, he goes into a bit of depth about how it affected him. My nitpicking would be, he barely touched on the reason the E Street Band broke up. He alludes to a few things, but doesn’t go into depth about it. I imagine since they are back together he didn’t understandably want to open old wounds. It was interesting to see the development of his music from personal stories to a craft of songwriting. The second half of the book seemed to be a little rushed, but I imagine after page 400, he needed to start wrapping it up. Even if you are not a Bruce Springsteen fan, it is an easy and informative read about how and  what it takes to become and survive being a rock and roll star. My image of him has not been shaken. In fact as usual, his story and his writing inspire me.

The moral of the story is Know who you are and what you want, be authentic to who you are, be persistent and willing to sacrifice it all to maintain that authenticity, find people you can trust, and ask for help when you need it.