So much has been written about this book, and by more knowledgeable fans and musical fundi’s than myself, that I am not going to try and construct a detailed review here. I will leave you with just a few thoughts:
- The book is an easy and pleasurable read. Not overly flowery, but written in beautiful English.
- But, with due respect to the author, the most beautiful English is that spoken by The Boss himself. The direct quotations are mostly little gems that show us why Bruce Springsteen’s work still has so much impact – the man has a wonderful way to say even the most basic things.
- Lots and lots of research was done and carefully used, an immense task.
- Some of the detail of the processes in the various studios became a bit tedious to me, but for fans who are technically minded it may be very interesting.
- I was a bit surprised to find so much input from the ever quiet Garry Tallent. And quite a lot of it came over as a bit negative. We are so used to him, always there, always in his place, that it comes as a surprise that he may not always have been too happy in that spot.
- On the other hand, the total absence of Patti Scialfa seems to subtract from the value of the book. I have heard the author give some explanation of meetings that just did not work out, but I am not convinced. Maybe she just did not want to be involved, which is strange, because she is always there, even in the documentary The Promise, which deals with a time long before she came into the picture. If she is absent by choice, I respect that.
- The total lack of sensational reporting is refreshing and wonderful. Maybe it is merely because there is not much sensational stuff to report in Bruce’s life. The part about the discovery of his relationship with Patti is not avoided either, but conveyed in a rather matter of fact way, with no attempt to make it juicy.
- On the other hand the absence of gushing accolades and praise is also a relief, especially as the author is also a fan himself.
- The insights into the character of Bruce’s father are welcome and moving. And the love that still existed between them, is a heartening thing. I find the picture of an already rich and famous Bruce putting his Oscar on his parents’ kitchen table, as if asking for approval, really moving.
- I miss some emphasis on the ongoing friendships among the E Street Band members. It all seems to be very matter of fact. Or maybe I have romanticized the idea of that friendship. But I choose to stay an undying romantic.
- Finally, as I have stated before, the honest way Bruce talks about his bouts of depression, is really a wonderful gift to anybody who struggles with it themselves.
Overall Bruce is a must-read for every Springsteen fan, even for anybody interested in rock, maybe for anyone interested in the greatness and the vulnerability of the human spirit. Bruce’s life is an epic of passion, desire, hard work, setbacks, disillusions, comebacks, integrity and the wonderful things that can happen if a person really, really goes for his/her dreams – and I suspect (and hope!) that there is still a lot to come.
Bruce has apparently said that his only desire is for an honest account of his life. I think he got it. I am certainly grateful that we as fans got it.