In more recent concerts Bruce Springsteen is like a preacher, and he whips the crowd to a frenzy in revival tents around the world. But what I remember, what I hold dear, are the shows I first saw in the early 80s, where he could command the audience to silence for up to 15 minutes or so while he told a story — a story about coming home to find his dad sitting in the dark kitchen, about having to sit at the table with him in the dark and listen for a while before he was allowed to escape upstairs. After this and other stories like it Bruce would either slide into a quiet tune or explode all over the stage, granting the audience relief from holding their collective breath.
This book is the first biography of Bruce Springsteen that made me feel like this, and it made me inch just a little closer to knowing what makes the man tick.Although it’s easy to tell the author is a fan, the book doesn’t fawn, and in fact shows Springsteen in an unflattering light at times as someone who likes to be tightly in control and can be nasty when challenged. But, hey, who wants their heroes to be perfect? Not me. This book is full of stories: about the man, about his family, about the band members, some of whom are still touring with him. And most of all about the music, about Springsteen’s unrelenting quest for excellence and his refusal to compromise.
The only complaint I have is that I would have liked the latter half of his career to have received as much attention as the early days, but perhaps the material just wasn’t there, Bruce too busy living a “normal” settled life between bursts of creativity. I haven’t listened closely to a lot of the later recordings, but after reading this book I’m tempted to start at the beginning, with Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., and not stop again until the last note of Wrecking Ball. I’ll see you all in a few months.