The words and music of Bruce Springsteen
The definitive guide to every album, from ‘Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.’ to ‘Working on a Dream’.
Bruce Springsteen is the greatest songwriter of his generation, the political conscience of his country and an inspiration to younger writers, musicians and film-makers. His songs are created in solitute yet speak to millions. They grow from the obsessions of a man rebelling against his family and a working-class home but unable to express himself except through music. How have they come to be anthems for a nation and several generations of fans?
Springsteen grew up immersed in 1960s music, from the Beach Boys to Motown, his early albums were an explosion of wordplay and the carnival sound of the New Jersey boardwalks before his songwriting darkened, becoming conscious of politics and conflicts in the society around him. Yet what are the influences behind his music, what sources lie behind the songs millions know? How do the songs evolve between the songwriting and recording process?
Steeped in American popular culture, from the movies of John Ford and Robert Mitchum, the music of Woody Guthrie and self-educated in the literature of John Steinbeck, social history and photography Springsteen has become part of the canon of popular culture while drawing on it for his own inspiration. Rob Kirkpatrick evaluates every album in chronological order, from Greetings from Asbury Park to Born To Run, The Ghost of Tom Joad to Working on a Dream. He reveals the cultural, biographical and musical sources of every released song, plus many of the songs that are fans’ favourites but that are still unreleased and uncovers what lay behind the bleakness of Nebraska and the hope of Working on a Dream.
“A valuable guide to Springsteen’s life and music It is always salutary to be reminded that no matter how much you think you know about something, there is always someone who knows more. And when it comes to Bruce Springsteen… Rob Kirkpatrick knows more, a lot more… Manages to navigate Springsteen’s recording career and point out the twists and turns, the ups and downs, the references and meanings.”
“It was a joy to read through this book… Rob Kirkpatrick should be commended for his exhaustive research and insight… I’ve yet to come across another book which offers such a detailed and compelling analysis of not only the singer’s art and life, but also the changes the US has gone through during this time span.”
“He’s called ‘The Boss’, and as this book shows, he certainly is… Details the unique history of his recording career and the creative processes that resulted in some of the most influential songs of the last three decades.”
‘Edinburgh Evening News’