5 takeaways from Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography ‘Born to Run’
March 21, 2018
I finally can talk to Jarret Osborn again. The No. 1 Bruce Springsteen fan in the Vail Valley and proprietor of Riverwalk Wine and Spirits has been after me for some time to read The Boss' epic autobiography "Born to Run" since it was released in the fall of 2016.
Well I finally got around to the 500-plus-page tome, and though it was longer than any concert of his, it was just as revealing and insightful as any rock biography I have ever read. My evolution on Springsteen has been a long and reluctant journey to respect and a growing admiration for the man from Jersey. A respect he definitely deserved but my ego prohibited from granting.
Let's put it this way. I have seen hundreds of concerts — from the greatest rock and pop bands of the moment to obscure acts — and yet not once have I bothered to catch Springsteen. That all might change after being engulfed in his memoir. I found myself worthy.
Since the book came out nearly two years ago, I am not going to bother with any reviews since most Springsteen fans have long consumed this edible. I will, however, give you my top takeaways from the book. (Spoiler alerts — to any of you who have not read it yet, turn the page now.) In other words — five things Tom Genes learned from "Born To Run":
1. His parents abandoned him
Unlike most tails of rock success, Springsteen's actually started as a tale of woe. A typical rock star plight is oppressive parents who either throw the budding star out of the house or they feel compelled to runaway.
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In Springsteen's case, it was much worse. His parents left him. At the tender age of 19, Bruce and his younger sister were literally abandoned by their manic depressive father and doting mother. They just packed up and left New Jersey for The Bay Area of Sea Francisco, literally leaving the siblings alone while still in school. Crazy stuff.
2. The Boss used to cry a lot
In any worthwhile autobiography there is the reckoning chapter. The one where all the ups and downs collide into a moment of great anguish and self-discovery.
For The Boss, it was after years of success, two marriages, kids and worldwide acclaim. He basically broke down into crying fits. Sometimes from pain, other times from joy and sometimes just because the wind blew in a certain direction.
He was eventually relieved of this condition and appears to be on the road to happiness, though his father's disease lingers.
3. His daughter is a big success
I didn't even realize he had children, indeed he has two sons and a daughter. His daughter, Jessica Rae, is an American show jumping champion, claiming the American Gold Cup in equestrian competition and may some day be an Olympian.
4. The Boss was, well, the Boss
Springsteen sets the record straight with all due respect to the all the musicians that he has shared the stage with.
He remains a solo act and has always called all the shots. He is open and candid about his decisive decision-making process and how it sometimes may have cost him jam partners such as Steven Van Zandt.
He speaks with truth to difficult choices such as choosing not to fight the election board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when they elected him and not the E Street Band (a wrong they both have since righted).
5. He is certainly one of the hardest working men in rock
This candid autobiography with tantalizing and revealing prose is the work of a dedicated man who meticulously curates every word, from his songs to this lengthy life story.
The man takes words seriously and is a gift to the music and now the literary world. Like the songs he has performed to millions, there is a lot of meaning to this work.
Tom Genes is a musicologist and organizes the annual Cover Rock Festival in Avon, returning June 22-23 with tributes to America's best rock 'n' roll bands.
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