This book was a big bestseller at Christmas and it really grabbed my attention as a fan of the Boss. When I heard that Bruce himself narrated the audiobook version, I just had to get it. What followed was 18 hours of pure bliss.
The success of a memoir always comes down to one vital ingredient, honesty, and this is what makes Born To Run such a compelling read. Bruce navigate through the six decades of his life to give us an enthralling account of how a spoilt Italian-Irish kid from Freehold, New Jersey became a true legend of music. Even if you are not a fan of Springsteen’s music, you will enjoy this story and the many pop culture references from the past six decades.
Bruce goes through a hippy phase and a surfer boy phase as well as all the clichés required of a teenage musician. He grows up amazed by Elvis, fascinated by the Beatles and obsessed with Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison. Many decades later he fulfils a lifelong dream when he plays side by side George Harrison and Mick Jagger.
Born To Run is packed full of anecdotes about Bruce’s early musical career, his adventures from coast to coast in the search of glory and his magical first time encounters with future lifelong friends. In many ways, this book could be the story of any human life as Bruce candidly recalls his school days, teenage hormones, family life and the timely death of loved ones. Bruce shines a light on subjects that many would avoid in a memoir such as disagreements with managers and bandmates as well as the break up of his first marriage.
However, the real heart of this story is his relationship with his father and also his own mental health issues. These elements of the memoir add a real heart and personal touch and they come across particularly well when read by Springsteen himself. The temptation would have been there to sweep his crippling depression and anxiety attacks under the carpet and I respect him greatly for shedding some light on his mental health issues. For the many who face similar struggles, Springsteen’s honesty is a timely lifeline that shows even the greatest of us have our weaknesses.
As I listened to this book in my car over the course of about a month, I really felt like the big man from New Jersey was sitting right beside me pouring out his heart and telling his life story each day. I looked forward to hearing the low growl of his voice each time I went for a drive.
After listening to his story, I now appreciate the man and his music even more. I have no doubt that you will too. Read this and then go back and enjoy his substantial back catalogue. I promise you that even his greatest fans will begin to appreciate him even more after taking some time with the Boss. I have been truly blessed to have enjoyed him at his best. Long live the Boss!
- Bruce is a voracious reader and it was on his recommendation that I returned to John Steinbeck. For more reads from the Boss, check this link out: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/03/bruce-springsteen-reading-list-favorite-books/
- Interestingly though, apparently Bruce hadn’t read Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath before producing his iconic album The Ghost of Tom Joad!