Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

I approached this book with some interest.  My partner had just finished reading it and was very impressed.  For me this isn’t always a good recommendation as we tend to have quite different tastes in music and books.  However, I enjoy a lot of Springsteen’s music and will agree that he puts on a cracking gig.

It made complete sense when Springsteen says, towards the end of the book, that he started writing it in bits and bobs whilst he was out on tour.  It definitely reads like a series of short stories with a linked theme at the beginning of the book and becomes more of a story towards the end.

It was interesting finding out more about the man behind the music and I was fascinated to learn that he has never had a “proper job”.  I think from the image and the stories behind the songs I’d always assumed he’d had a string of dead-end jobs until he made it in music, like a lot of musicians and actors.

The most powerful thing to shine out of the book is Springsteen’s love for his wife, Patti Scialfa.  I vaguely remember their relationship being seen as quite scandalous when he left his first wife for her but their enduring love suggests it was the right thing to have done.

I enjoyed the parts of the book that explain the creative process Springsteen goes through to put an album together.  I guess each artist/band has their own way but the way it is described in the book made sense to me; the need to find that elusive something that brings everything together and creates a central energy.

One of the frustrations of the book is that I felt it skimmed over the personalities of the people in Springsteen’s life.  I can understand an author feeling the need to protect his friends and relatives but it does leave everything feeling a little superficial.  I think that is why I generally prefer biographies to autobiographies; a writer of biographies doesn’t need to be quite so protective!

I also felt that despite the publicity the book has received for Springsteen’s honesty about suffering from depression he also skirted over what it really felt like – except when describing his last experience of it.  I feel that it might help people who also suffer to have a clearer picture and understand that someone as famous and talented as Bruce Springsteen has experienced the black dog in the way an “ordinary person” might.

My other gripe about the book is that I think, as an autobiography, it lacks perspective.  As an adult Springsteen portrays himself as a controlling, hard to live and work with, not very nice person.  And yet the evidence would suggest he is actually a good friend; most of his seem to be very long-standing and quarrels, even longstanding ones, are made up.  Confusing!

Overall, I’m pleased I read the book –  it’s always good to understand more about the music you’ve lived with for a very long time – but I’ll be even more interested to read a biography, when one comes out.

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