When Bruce Springsteen went back on the road in 1984, he opened every show by shouting out, "one, two, one, two, three, four," followed by the droning synth chords of "Born in the U.S.A." Max Weinberg hit his drums with a two-fisted physicality that cut through the swelling chords. With a rolled-up red kerchief around his head and heavy black boots under his faded jeans, Springsteen looked like the character of the song, and from the very first line ("Born down in a dead man's town") he sang with the throat-scraping desperation of a man with his back against the wall. When he reached the crucial lines, though, the guitars and bass dropped out and Weinberg switched to just the hi-hat. Springsteen's voice grew a bit more private and reluctant as he sang, "Nowhere to run. Nowhere to go." It was as if he weren't sure if this were an admission of defeat or the drawing of a line in the sand. But when the band came crashing back at full strength-building a crescendo that fell apart in the cacophony of Springsteen's and Weinberg's wild soloing, paused and then came together again in the determined, marching riff-it was clear that the singer was ready to make a stand.
Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himselfto writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as The Big Bang: seeing Elvis Presley s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work. Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll. Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs ("Thunder Road, "Badlands." "Darkness on the edge of Town. "The River" "Born in the U.S.A." "The Rising, " abd "The Ghost of Tom Joad," to name just a few). Bruce Springsteen s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.
Not only was Bruce Springsteen "Born in the USA," he has risen to become a twenty-time Grammy winner and American icon. Bruce Springsteen grew up in a blue-collar New Jersey town, where his parents struggled to make ends meet. Bruce didn't fit in at school but found solace in rock and roll and playing guitar. After the breakup of a local band he'd joined, Springsteen went out on his own and people began to take notice. He signed with Columbia Records and under pressure to come up with a hit, wrote "Born in the USA," which tells the story of America during the years of the Vietnam War. A multi-millionaire and twenty-time Grammy winner, the Boss has remained a working class hero whose music deals with the political and social changes in our country.
This is the first study to explore fully the myth of America as reflected in the nation's popular music. Beginning with the songs of the Pilgrims and continuing through more than two centuries of history and music, Born in the U.S.A. shows the emerging American myth and gives a close reading of the compositions of songwriters as diverse as William Billings, Henry Clay Work, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen.So that the full and diverse narrative of this complex nation might be recorded, this insightful study is focused both upon the national myth and upon the songwriters and performers representing subcultures and alternative viewpoints that are the text of America's story. Through hymnlike paeans and through discordant lamentations protesting the realities of the contemporary workaday world, popular music is an astonishing mirror of American history.
In this compelling book, Robert Coles, the celebrated Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize–winning author, turns his attention to popular music legend Bruce Springsteen, and to the powerful impact Springsteen’s work has had both on the lives of his audience and on this country’s literary tradition. Coles places Springsteen in the pantheon of American artists—Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Dorothea Lange, and Walker Percy, among others—who understood and were inspired by their “traveling companions in time,” the ordinary people of their eras. With wisdom and a unique personal perspective, Coles explores Springsteen’s words as contemporary American poetry, and offers firsthand accounts of how people interact with them: A trucker listens to “Blinded by the Light” during long, lonely nights and reminisces about his mother; a schoolteacher is astonished when a usually silent student offers a comparison between “Nebraska” and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; a policeman responds to “American Skin (41 Shots),” reflecting on his own role in his family and community. As these people, and others, candidly discuss the meaning Springsteen’s words have in their lives, Coles listens and, with the special insight and compassion that are the trademarks of his art, sheds new light on “The Boss,” removing the legendary American rock musician from fan-filled stadiums and placing the poet in a greater social, cultural, and philosophical context. Coles sees Springsteen as a representative of a uniquely American documentary tradition—as a sing-ing and traveling poet who does not simply embody the culture of which he is a part but fully engages it, interacting with its people and creating a conversation that has helped to shape a distinct way of looking at, and living, American life today. From the Hardcover edition.
Weaving from jargon-free critical analysis to a fan’s passionate participatory research, this book places work and class at the center of the work of Bruce Springsteen. It juxtaposes the “uninspiring” work of his characters (factory workers, carwash attendants, cashiers, waitresses, farmhands, and immigrants) with the work of Bruce Springsteen himself as an indefatigable musician and performer. Springsteen is the hunter of invisible game, the teller of second-hand lives of common folks who ride used cars, believe that being born in the USA entitles them to something better, and keep the dream alive even when it turns into a lie or a curse, because what counts is dignity, the spirituality and the imagination of the dreamer, and the life-giving power of rock and roll. This book will appeal both to common readers and fans, and to scholars in fields such as sociology, history, music, cultural studies, and literature.
Bruce Springsteen grew from a dishevelled, bearded singer of youthful street ballads to become the hottest name in the rock world - twice. The resilience of the New Jersey troubadour has seen him top the album charts in four successive decades, and his epic world tours with the legendarily hard-working E Street Band are still sell-outs well into the new millennium. Once seen as another Bob Dylan wannabe, Springsteen became rock's definitive chronicler of blue-collar life and inheritor of the spirit of Woody Guthrie. When the world needed a compassionate artistic statement, he delivered. This guide examines the growth of Bruce Springsteen's career, from the optimistic youth who wrote Born To Run to the respected heavyweight songwriter of today.