Springsteen Shows How an Autobiography is Done

This is the second book I have read with the title Born to Run. This one isn’t about long-distance runners, but about The Boss  – the author Bruce Springsteen.

First, let me say that I have never been a big fan of Springsteen.  Other than my fascination and nearly wearing out of my Born in the USA cassette, I’ve never even bought another of his songs or albums. I really did like the songs Tunnel of Love and Born to Run… just never bought them. I didn’t follow him. I thought positively of him as an artist, but couldn’t consider myself a true fan.

I listened to the audiobook version which was made better by the fact that Bruce read it himself. This made it much more personal. My first impression was how very lyrical it was written.  It is obvious he used no ghost writer. This book was written by a songwriter and it is evident in nearly every phrase. This writing style was the reason I couldn’t put down the book no matter how different and un-relatable his life was from mine.  No, not just him being a rock star, but his being raised in New Jersey which is a completely different world that the country of south Texas.

Despite the fact that Bruce Springsteen is worlds apart from me in geography, career, background, political views and more, I did find common ground.  I was able to relate to his mental gymnastics.  I won’t go into detail, but suffice it say, we both struggled with similar things before learning the value of things like family, friendship and more.

No, I still can’t say I am a big fan.  I was even prompted to queue up his release, Chapter and Verse – a companion to the book that chronicles his musical journey and transitions.  I still really only like a few of the tracks.

This is a looong book.  We’re talking 500+ pages.  It covers a ton of stuff and drags a bit at time, but I never quit.

My opinion of the book changed throughout.  First, I wasn’t sold because I couldn’t relate. Then, I was turned off because of some of his actions. Then, I was on board because I started to relate. Next, I was again reminded Springsteen wasn’t the kind of guy I would find sitting next to me around a campfire.  Then, I could see us hanging out. Throughout, I was struck by how full of himself and his importance in the world he is. In the end, it was informational.

I guess I’m glad I finished the book just because after a while it felt like a task and I’m no quitter. I do understand Mr. Springsteen a bit better. I respect him a bit more. I am reminded of how much I loved the Born in the USA album – that will get more plays.

If you’re a fan of Springsteen – this is a great book for you. If you’re not – it may be a lot of work. If you want a great example of a lyrical writing style… Born to Run is your book.

by Chris Doelle

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