Bruce Springsteen is responsible for the best record I ever heard – “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. He is responsible for the best concert I ever saw – Wembley in 2013, when he played the whole of “Darkness on the Edge of Town” out of the blue. And now, I think he’s just gone and written the best autobiography I ever read. It’s called “Born to Run”, after his most iconic song, and the album many would say is his best. I guess I was always going to like this book, unless it had been truly badly written. But it’s brilliantly written, and I love it!
It’s everything you’d expect of a book written by Bruce (and he did write it himself – can you imagine Bruce having a ghost writer?). Honest, passionate, graphic, heroic, inspiring, moving, and just downright fascinating for someone like me, who has had Bruce’s music as a soundtrack to his life since his late teens. Did I say honest? Searingly so – about his relationship with his father, his attacks of depression, his inability to handle relationships with the women he loved, until Patti came around. Did I say passionate? Inspiringly so – the love he expresses for music, the E Street Band, his family, bowls you over. There’s a lovely story near the end when he has been invited to sing “Tumbling Dice” with the Rolling Stones at one of their concerts, in Newark, New Jersey, Bruce’s home state. He’s invited to a rehearsal at a New York studio. He’s a teenage boy all over again, living the dream, getting to play with some of his heroes. The setup is simple, no-nonsense. The Stones, despite everything, are still a rock’n’roll band. Bruce gets to sing the second verse. Just one take. He admires the chemistry in the band, how Keith Richards plays off Charlie Watts’ drums. Putting the roll in rock’n’roll, Bruce writes. I love that. Still the fan, still in love with music despite his fame and fortune.
You see that in his shows, of course. Three and half hours, or more, of relentless, passionate, entertainment. You get value for money at a Bruce concert – and you get value for money with “Born to Run”. Five hundred pages, which remind you why you love music, and find the same meaning, inspiration, solace, passion, joy in it as Bruce Springsteen does. Bruce’s music has always spoken to me, and so does this book.
If you aren’t a fan of Bruce’s music, you might not get quite as much out of it as I did, but I think you could still enjoy it for what it is – a fascinating, engrossing account of how a working class lad from New Jersey decided he was going to make it in the world of rock’n’roll and never let up – not even when he realised his dreams.
It’s a strange coincidence that I’m reading this just a couple of hours after having ordered the book!
Definitely on my Christmas list. Did yours have waterproof pages, John?
I reckon that music books are in pretty rude health, as a genre, at the moment. Here’s a round-up of some of the best of the year – many of which I have coveted, but none of which I have bought.
Useful list for my Christmas books list. I saw Barney Hoskyns talk about the Woodstock book at End of the Road. Late entry to that list for “I Was There”?
I’d like to read this!