By Peter Ames Carlin
Simon & Schuster – £9.99

As stated in The Daily Telegraph, this book is ”A wonderfully insightful and richly detailed biography, one that can justifiably claim to be both impartial and definitive;” which, to be frank, is what I really like about it.

Having read and reviewed a number of books on Springsteen over the years, I can honestly say Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin, might well be the most unbiased, and as such, perhaps the best I’ve ever read. Not only has it been painstakingly researched, it’s also been written with the full co-operation of he who was supposedly born to run himself – thus making for a more than real, regal and refreshing read.

As a musician and songwriter myself, as well as a huge fan of Springsteen’s, it might go without saying that I’ve obviously read a fair bit about him; and one of the biggest let-downs and disappointments, has always been the nigh relentless amount of sheer turgid and obsessive, obsequious bollocks that’s been written down the years. For fuck sake, the amount of times I have found myself referring to what John Lennon once said: ”just give me the truth.”

That’s all I want. And deep down, I should imagine that’s all Bruce really wants too…

Well herein, I do believe we (may) finally have it.

Within this book’s 463 pages, one will invariably stumble upon a number of reflective and revealing, literary nuggets of information. Some of which may partially border on profound sensibility: ”Sometimes he played to the mirror, watching his hands on the guitar’s neck and reveling in the instruments’s potential to serve both as a shield against his shynesss and a bridge to carry him to the centre of everything. As he told Newsweek writer Maureen Orth in 1975: ”The first day I can remember lookin’ in the mirror and standin’ what I was seein’ was the day I had a guitar in my hand”” (from the chapter ‘A New Kind Of Man’).

To be sure, certain segments of this book may well divulge the inner-sanctum of Springsteen’s (renowned) trying and vexed relationship with his father: ”The anger between father and son had largely faded, due both to the passage of time and other less expected developments. A stroke Doug suffered in 1979 had somehow rewired the part of his personality that made it all but impossible for him to share his emotions. ”Now he couldn’t hide anything,” Pam Springsteen says. ”You could mention any of his kids’ names to him, and he’d burst into tears. You could see what meant the most to him. He was just a very real person. No pretense, no persona. And everyone loved him” (‘Get The Hostility Out Now, I Can Take It’).

Either way, it really is a terrific read.

Not only is Bruce an absolute must own for Springsteen fans, it’s something of a magisterial read for anyone remotely interested in the sort of music that can actually change your life.

David Marx


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