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BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springsteen Kirkus Star


by Bruce Springsteen

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5011-4151-5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Boss speaks—and he does so as both journeyman rocker and philosopher king.

Wrapping up his long backward look at a storied life and the anthemic songs that punctuate it, Springsteen examines his motivations. “I wanted to understand,” he writes of the past, “in order to free myself of its most damaging influences, its malevolent forces, to celebrate and honor its beauty, its power, and to be able to tell it well to my friends, my family and to you.” Readers who stick with the story—and there are a few longueurs—will be richly rewarded. Springsteen has lived well, even if he expresses a couple of regrets and, in a newsmaking episode, confesses to having suffered a long bout of depression at the age of 60. “The blues don’t jump right on you,” he writes, but jump they do. Nothing a pill can’t take care of, mind you, and when Springsteen rebounds, he does so with a joyous vengeance. Ardent students of his music might wish for a touch more depth in his account of his processes as songwriter and performer, but there’s plenty of that. In one of the scattered formulas that he tosses out, he allows that the math of rock ’n’ roll is an equation, thanks to the transport and bond between band and fan, through which “when the world is at its best, when we are at our best, when life feels fullest, one and one equals three.” That math may not bear close inspection, but Springsteen is foremost a fan, and nowhere more so than when he had a chance to play with rock gods Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, a fine and rousing moment in a book full of them. Springsteen is gentle with those who treated him poorly—and one imagines those “rah-rahs” of the Jersey Shore writhing in shame each day at the memory—but generous with love for friends and listeners alike.

A superb memoir by any standard, but one of the best to have been written by a rock star.