It should be no surprise that one of the most prolific singer-songwriters of any generation wrote a phenomenal memoir- if you can light a spark in people in 5 minutes then 500 pages will set them on fire.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Springsteen, and my only critique is many of the tracks are so long; at one point a disk kept skipping and I couldn’t take it out to clean it without having to start over literally thirty minutes from where I left off.
I was born 13 years after Born to Run and 4 years after Born in the USA but Springsteen’s music crosses generations. I remember the 2008 Superbowl Halftime which reinvigorated him and opened him up to younger generations, myself included.
Springsteen’s book is colored with vivid descriptions of his childhood in Freehold, New Jersey and his early music ambitions. Besides doing yard work one summer to raise funds for a guitar Bruce has supported himself through music his entire life. He was in several bands as a teenager and found modest success with a few of them after he left college. It wasn’t always easy and he chronicles his long struggle to break into the entertainment business; he was broke, slept on the floor of a surf shop instead of renting an apartment and was always looking for a steady, paying gig.
Springsteen gives each album its due. He talks about the process that goes into his writing, the political nature of his lyrics and how they’re often misunderstood- especially Born in the USA. He also shares a lot about the recording process, like how he wanted Born to Run to sound like a ‘wall of sound.’
Bruce stresses how important the E Street Band has been to his success, although he explains that he was signed as a solo artist and takes pride in that, and gives each member their proper due for the role they played in his career. His tribute to his friend Clarence Clemmons, and the pain he felt at his passing, was particularly powerful.
Bruce’s rise into the Rock & Roll stratosphere had ups and downs, namely a legal battle with his early management, but its had longevity few people can match. But that doesn’t mean Bruce doesn’t get start struck, he shares a story about performing with the Rolling Stones and rushing home to geek out to his friend Steve Van Zandt about it.
He holds nothing back, so this is a long one, but there isn’t a detail I’d take out. He beautifully explains his struggle with depression and waxes poetic about his wife and their three children. Sure, some of his stories are brief anecdotes that have little to do with his career longevity but it’s such a pleasant experience to sit with Bruce as he tells his story that you don’t mind.