Book Review: Born to Run

‘When it comes to luck, you make your own…’


More than any other musician, Bruce Springsteen has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. I was obsessed with my parent’s vinyl collection as a child. I loved listening to bands such as The Undertones and Queen and I also loved reading the lyrics and immersing myself in the exotic looking album covers. Along with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and openly weeping at the slightest provocation, these listening sessions defined my childhood. One album that I was particularly taken with was Bruce Springsteen’s masterpiece Born to Run. Even as a child I recognized the urgency and excitement that the songs wrought and the lyrics fascinated me in the same way as the words of Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton did.

As I got older I continued to dip back into the discography of The Boss at regular intervals. Teenage rebellion? I’d listen to Astbury Park. Moody introspection? Darkness on the Edge of Town. The Boss had a song for every mood. It is difficult to think of another artist with such a disparate collection of work. It is this longevity, coupled with a truck load of heart and an every man quality, that have kept me going back to Bruce Springsteen again and again.

It was with some trepidation then that I began reading Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run. Would the myth that I had built in my head live up to the man himself? Upon finishing the book, I felt like Bruce Springsteen was more of an enigma to me than ever, but all the things I loved him for were only exemplified.

Each album is lovingly deconstructed following a lengthy and captivating introduction about Springsteen’s childhood. Most surprising of all is how well written the book is. The beautiful prose evokes, and indeed mentions, the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, as well as Springsteen’s own songs. It is clear that his heart remains firmly on his sleeve, whether he is writing music or literature, and this makes for a life affirming read.

There is also a dark underbelly to Springsteen’s writing and he talks about his depression with a stark frankness that is as surprising as it is refreshing. As the man himself says ‘The devil is always just a day away’. This humanizes The Boss to an extent, without affecting his legendary status.

In the end, I devoured Born to Run the book in the same way as I had Born to Run the album. It has the same humour, genius and heart running all the way through it. Quite simply the best music book I have ever read.

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