A career-spanning collection of interviews with The Boss.
There is little doubt that Bruce Springsteen is among the most influential and important rockers of all time. The many books about him are only a small measure of his cultural impact. However, while critical and popular opinions about Springsteen’s work may change with time, there will always be The Boss’ own words about his career. Phillips and Masur (Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union, 2012, etc.), noted Springsteen scholars in their own right, have collected this definitive volume of interviews, even transcribing rare TV and radio broadcasts. The book charts Springsteen’s evolution from a withdrawn New Jersey teen playing the local bar circuit to an international rock star. From Springsteen’s earliest interview in 1973 with the Asbury Park Evening Press, which described his demeanor as “characteristically sullen,” to discussions with major media outlets like Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and 60 Minutes, Springsteen has, above all else, maintained a consistent philosophy of music first, never allowing triviality or ego to take over. He has proved this ethos time and again during his marathon live shows, always remaining honest to the audience, never conforming “to the formula of always giving the audience what it wants.” There is much to glean from Springsteen’s insights as he talks about his unpleasant upbringing in New Jersey or how, upon seeing Elvis’ infamous waist-up performance on Ed Sullivan in his early teens, he decided to dedicate himself to music. While the collection very clearly navigates a narrative of Springsteen’s life, it is a narrative already well-known by many and one that Springsteen is content to perpetuate throughout these interviews. As Springsteen admitted to Mojo in 2006, “Trust the art, be suspicious of the artist. He’s generally untrustworthy.” There is the music, after all.
A fascinating addition to the growing shelf of Springsteen studies, probably best read in doses.