Book Review: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

August 21, 2020

Details from Audible:

Born to Run

Narrated by: Bruce Springsteen
Length: 18 hrs and 12 mins
 4.7 out of 5 stars (8,901 ratings)

Publisher's Summary

 Winner of the 2018 Audie Award for Autobiography/Memoir

"Writing about yourself is a funny business.... But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise: to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I've tried to do this." (Bruce Springsteen, from the audio of Born to Run

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl's halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That's how this extraordinary autobiography began. 

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to this audio the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as "The Big Bang": seeing Elvis Presley's debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar-band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work and shows us why the song "Born to Run" reveals more than we previously realized. 

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star's memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll. Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs ("Thunder Road", "Badlands", "Darkness on the Edge of Town", "The River", "Born in the U.S.A.", "The Rising", and "The Ghost of Tom Joad", to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen's autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences. 

Author bio: Bruce Springsteen has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the New Jersey Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of 20 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and the Kennedy Center Honors. He lives in New Jersey with his family. 

©2016 Bruce Springsteen (P)2016 Simon & Schuster Audio

Initial Thoughts:

Bruce Springsteen, "The Boss", has been making music that I love for a long time. I started listening to him back when most people did in '84 when "Born in the USA" came out (ok it was a little later for me). Suffice to say when I saw this on Audible I knew I had to listen. As many of you know I'm also a sucker for when an author reads his own book, especially when it's an autobiography.

Main Points:

I'll say right off, I loved this book. Sure it has flaws but it's easy to overlook when you listen to Bruce talk, he's an amazing storyteller, has a good speaking voice, and can be really funny at times.

One of the amazing parts was for someone who grew up in the 60's, he never did drugs and never even touched alcohol until he was 22. What this means is that his memory is incredible and he can provide so many vivid details from his life that it really draws you into his life story. 

I laughed out loud several times (often just that in one chapter) and he truly has some amazing stories, that are all true! I do, however, have some issues with it. I suppose that while I do love his music I am mostly a fan of the 80s to now. His early stuff (Born in the USA is actually his seventh album!) doesn't have much appeal to me and a lot more of the book is focused on it than needs to be.

Also, I think that it is a little too long, has some repetition, and suffers from an author who wants to show off his vocabulary using, long descriptive and obscure words, when shorter ones would have sufficed. 

Those things said I loved learning about where he got ideas for many of his famous songs, what his childhood, teenage, and early adult life was like. His relationship with his father is somehow sad, happy, strained, weird, and ultimately emotionally gripping. I'll admit that as someone who has lost his dad, when an author can really capture a father/son relationship and describe well how their dad died...well it gives me the feels and certainly makes for great listening/reading.

As with other authors his sprinkles in his own music throughout the book at just the right moments (Which I loved!), is very open with his own struggles with mental health, relationships, marriages and being a father, that you have to admire his honesty and bravery.

Final Thoughts:

One of the other things that annoyed me is that he never explains why he's called "The Boss" (you'll have to google it as I did). I know it's only a nickname but when you get into how you didn't know Courtney Cox was an actress in your video, then certainly you're into little details and your famous nickname should be in there.

All that said I found this to be a great listen. I give it a solid 8.5 out of 10 and would highly recommend it to any Bruce fan, or just anyone who enjoys a good autobiography. Lots of coarse language, references to drugs, sex, and violence, so I would say ages 16+. After listening to this it makes me want to see him all the more in concert, I really hope I do before he retires for good.