goodreads Review

I don’t often post reviews of books that I read, but I have to post this link to my goodreads site, as this book will be placed alongside a few other books that will never leave my desk.

I am still flicking through the pages to read sections I have flagged … I find it such an inspiring read … cannot recommend it enough.

I need to state my conflict of interest upfront – I am a HUGE Springsteen fan 🙂

Michael’s Review – Born to Run

I have been forced to place the iconic album image from the Born in the USA album … by you know who …. 😉

bruce shrugs

 

Review – Born to Run

‘You can change a life in three minutes with the right song’, says Bruce, or dive into his autobiography and be changed by his raw punchy, iconic life story as he unflinchingly  tries to figure himself him out, by asking the deepest questions.

borntorun

Born to Run is his autobiography, that was released on September 27, 2016. The title is named after Springsteen’s iconic 1975 album and song “Born to Run”. He worked on his autobiography, alone for seven years, before seeking out a publisher. I need to state my conflict of interest upfront – I am a HUGE Springsteen fan 🙂

This book at times comes across as a soulful soliloquy, of a guy sitting quietly at the bar, sipping a bourbon talking to himself, trying to figure out the journey of his life. There is so much to tell, and so much that he cannot fully explain; and in is own self effacing way, he doesn’t claim to get it or entirely understand his journey. His epic live shows, which regularly run for three to four hours, are part of his legacy and his triumph. Why does he do them? You will have to read the book to unravel that mystery.

I absolutely love this book, it took me a long time to finish it, just because I wanted to savour every page and story, and reflect on his music that he was writing at that point in his journey. I keep going back to read flagged sections, and replay the music of that period of his life. For the die hard Springsteen fans (and I’m sure all readers), who know and love his music, the book will be an emotional roller coaster, bringing one to tears and then laughter. More than once, I needed to put the book down, and just reflect on the raw truth been told in his story.

Their are parts of his life story to which I (and others) can relate to, and gain strength from; his working class roots, mental illness and addiction problems of family members, bouts of walking in darkness, bending over backwards to avoid conflict (stemming from his childhood) and the strong burning social consciousness that drives him onward. His work ethic and ability to keep pushing on, whilst critically examining himself is both admirable and inspiring.

bruce

 

 

 

 

All I do know is as we age the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier …. much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. Maybe I’d cut myself loose one too many times, depended on my unfailing magic act once too often, drifted that little bit too far from the smoke and mirrors holding me together. Or … I had just got old … old enough to know better. Whatever the reason, I’d found myself, once again, stranded in the middle of … “nowhere” but this time the euphoria and delusions that kept me  oiled and running had ground to a halt.

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

Like his lyrics, the book is written from the heart which he wears so close to his sleeve, raw, exposed and open to for all to see, and openly bleed out lyrics, that resonate with so many. This particular paragraph above so resonates with me, when I first read it and even more so at my present place in my life.

If you have ever listened to or read the lyrics of most Springsteen songs (except maybe Waitin’ on a Sunny Day, and maybe a few more), you would know that Bruce Springsteen is a really deep and insightful writer. You just have to listen to his three raw acoustic albums, to fully comprehend his blue collar roots and journey since those early New Jersey days, and how uncomfortably he wears the mantle of The Boss, as it weighs him down. Head over and read: The Bard of New Jersey for an introspective review of his three acoustic albums.

the boss

Springsteen has lots of questions about what fuels him – emotional neediness, obsessive-compulsive hubris, the fact that he just comes alive onstage. “There, strangely enough, exposed in front of thousands, I’ve always felt perfectly safe, just to let it all go. That’s why at our shows you can’t get rid of me.”

Let us give thanks, that we just can’t get rid of him either!

His honesty about his mental health is helpful to anyone who has suffered from depression or supported a loved one suffering from this illness. Any fan of Springsteen will not be put off by his admitting he has suffered, and as others have pointed out, he has shown that he has achieved so much more than the average artist over the past forty years. Well into his sixties, and he still regularly pushes out rollicking rock concerts to thousands of adoring fans.

the boss in repose

“Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of Born to Run

And in my humble opinion you have more than succeed Bruce, and to the reader; revel in it and enjoy.

Happy Birthday Bruce

A day late, but Happy Birthday The Boss, 68 yesterday. Thanks for all the great music, memories and reflections that your music continues to deliver. In refection, on those memories, I am posting a link to an article I penned earlier this year.

Some of his greatest work, in my opinion, are his three acoustic albums, they are stark, dark and raw. They claw at the very fabric of society, lifting the covers and showing the dark underbelly, that exists right in front of us, but we are at times, to blind to see.

The Bard of New Jersey

So Happy Birthday to a great musician, artist and writer … may you continue to bless us with heartfelt and soul searching lyrics. Strength to you and love and peace to all …

 

 

The Bard of New Jersey

This is not a definitive article on The Boss, but an introspective look at 3 albums which have resonated with me over time (I do need to revisit these 3 albums with a more weighty article). Springsteen is an artist I greatly admire and respect, for so many reasons; for his strong social consciousness and the way he juxtaposes darkness and light, despair and hope, life and death; all the while documenting life as he sees the world.

Most of his songs focus on the marginalized, the working-class, people making their way in the world, getting through the daily grind. He has spent most of his musical career documenting the daily struggle of people who live in a country (America) where the status quo is:

enforced by a corpocratic government that allows only the rich to get richer

His songs offer glimpses of loss, confusion, hope, faith, resolve, death and destruction; caused by life, politics and government mismanagement. He continually offers hope, at times only glimpses, but it is there for those who are looking; as they are tested by the fire. Emerging from the furnace of life scarred but whole.
I sink beneath the river cool and clear
Drifting down I disappear
I see you on the other side
I search for the peace in your eyes
I break above the waves
I feel the sun upon my face
Paradise – from the Rising 2002
Springsteen is not scared to ask the hard questions that confront the working man. In the above quoted album The Rising; there are tales of great suffering, but there is joy, hope, and a possibility of new tomorrow, without an empty sky. Springsteen says, he was “concerned with those [relationship] ideas: that if you don’t connect yourself with your family and to the world, you feel like you’re disappearing, fading away”.
He has the ability to bring beauty to tragedy, and shine light where it should not exist. Some of his greatest work, in my opinion, are his three acoustic albums; they are stark, dark and raw. They claw at the very fabric of society, lifting the covers and showing the dark underbelly, that exists right in front of us, that we are at times, to blind to see, or refuse to see.
It’s songwriting, you know, but in the sense that there’s a geography to it, there’s a landscape, both a physical landscape and an emotional landscape, where I’m trying to capture the essence of an individual’s life in some sense. What’s he striving for? What’s he struggling with? Where is he?
Bruce Springsteen in conversation with Adam Sweeting 2010
The three acoustic albums are Nebraska (1982), The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995) and Devils and Dust (2005). I would say this triptych is essential listening – in one sitting – for all those hardcore Springsteen fans, during which you would be hard pressed to survive with dry eyes.
The stark, dark acoustic masterpiece, The Ghost Of Tom Joad, (Steinbeck fans will remember this character from The Grapes of Wrath, which Springsteen reread before doing this album)which celebrates its 21st  anniversary this November, is considered by many to be a sequel to Nebraska (1982) due to its tone, mood and context. It skirts the darkness at the edges of towns and those lost in our peripheral vision. Its as real and relevant today as it was then, whether you live in the USA, Europe or South Africa. The austere guitar plays out against a dark post apocalypse economic wasteland visited upon us by powers (governments) beyond our control. The opening and title track – The Ghost of Tom Joad – reminds us that there are still plenty of people living in the margins who need somebody to fight on their behalf. Be it refugees at sea in the Mediterranean, Mexicans been sent back across the border, Syrians walking across Europe, Somalians been killed by warlords or a Zimbabwean fleeing a tyrant.
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”
Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad – 1995

25th ANNIVERSARY ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME CONCERT
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band with Tom Morello – Ghost of Tom Joad – Madison Square Garden, NYC – 2009/10/29&3

What draws me to Springsteen? It’s a combination of his gripping raw lyrics, social consciousness and he is not afraid to have an opinion even if it means losing fans, and then there is his rollicking rock sound when he rips loose with the E-Street Band. I love it when he tackles the powers that be head on, with a hungry heart for the the downtrodden. Springsteen is not scared to tilt at windmills he even called out Trump as a “con man” on “That’s What Makes Us Great,” his new protest song with longtime collaborator Joe Grushecky.

Don’t tell me a lie
And sell it as a fact
I’ve been down that road before
And I ain’t going back
As long as Springsteen keeps churning them out I will keep listening and loving his music, long may the magic last . Here are a few of my favourite Springsteen Albums and Songs … was tough as always to keep the selection concise, especially the songs. Would love to hear your favourite songs and albums.
Peace and love to you all, know matter where you are born or roam
My Favourite Bruce Albums (in date order)
Darkness on the Edge of Town – 1978
The River – 1980
Nebraska – 1982
Ghost of Tom Joad – 1995
The Rising – 2002
Devils and Dust – 2005
Magic – 2007

My Favourite Bruce Songs (in no particular order) – some still bring a tear to my eye

Keeping it to 12 as I did with my Dylan listing 🙂
American Skins
Seeds – Live 75 – 85 version
Ghost of Tom Joad
Paradise
Missing – included on the soundtrack to the 1995 Sean Penn film The Crossing Guard
Blood Brothers
My Fathers House
Secret Garden
Trapped
Lift Me Up – A must listen, you will not believe how beautiful his voice is on this acoustic number
Countin’ on a Miracle – Acoustic version – Originally on The Rising
Devils and Dust
The last word from Bruce: “I open the door, I climb the stairs…,”  completes this post Thanks 🙂

For more on Bruce – head over to, my article on his recently released autobiography Rreview-Born to Run – Autobiography