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Born to Run

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“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 pages 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 these pages 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.

528 pages, Hardcover

First published September 27, 2016

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About the author

Bruce Springsteen

123 books782 followers
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen is an American songwriter, singer and guitarist. He has frequently recorded and toured with the E Street Band. Springsteen is most widely known for his brand of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics, and Americana sentiments centered around his native New Jersey. His eloquence in expressing ordinary, everyday problems has earned him numerous awards, including twenty Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, along with an international fan base. His most famous albums, Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A., epitomize his penchant for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily life. He has sold over 64 million albums in the U.S. alone.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,547 reviews
Profile Image for Mo.
1,363 reviews2 followers
October 2, 2016
Bruce, I fucking love you. That was amazing.

"June 1, 1985, Slane Castle, Dublin, Ireland (Slane is NOT in Dublin, Bruce), our first stadium show ever ... Slane joined a rising number of our other performances to attain "legendary" status and, despite my distraction, turned out to be a solid show. On the streets of Dublin, it is often mentioned that if you were there, you were there. I was certainly there."

I was there too.
My first "rock concert"!
31 years ago. I have the tickets and the t-shirt to prove it.

So began a lifelong love of The Boss.
I have seen him only five times since then (so six times in total). My 20 year old son has also seen him six times. We saw Bruce, as a family, over the years, five times - 4 times in Ireland (three in the space of two weeks, one summer and once in Belgium), but this summer my oldest son was the lucky one who saw him in Glasgow "sans famille"!

I think I will keep this short and sweet because I really could wax lyrical about the book and Bruce for hours on end. Is it a book for hardcore fans? I don't think so. It is very much a look at American life over the years so that means it will be of interest to many who may not be Springsteen fans. It is very personal, very candid. Sad at times. We learn about his "relationship" with his father ... a taciturn Irishman, who does not deal well with emotions or relationships. It is hard to read at times but I think Bruce, by writing this book, sort of dealt with his Dad and it was cathartic for him. I think they found peace in the end. At least, I hope they did.

"That was it. It was all I needed, all that was necessary. I was blessed on that day and given something by my father I thought I'd never live to see ..."

If you are lucky enough to see Bruce in concert, you see a happy, upbeat guy. No way would I have thought he had demons in his life. But it is in his genes and Patti is there to see him through. His love for her shines through in the book. I guess she is an original "rock chick."

Did I say I was going to keep this "short and sweet"?

"Writing about yourself is a funny business. At the end of the day it's just another story, the story you've chosen about the events in your life. I haven't told you "all" about myself. Discretion and the feelings of others don't allow it."

I think you told us enough, Bruce. It was a privilege to read about "your" life, "your" feelings, "your" love, "your" family and "your" struggles.

I will finish with a quote from David Brooks in THE ATLANTIC ..
“He is a literate, artful, and even urbane writer (there is no way this book is ghosted) who has reaped the sorts of insights you get from more than three decades in therapy. He is still tortured and haunted, but he has gotten himself more or less together. The journey from obscurity to rock-and-roll fantasy is not as important in this book as the internal journey from anxious urgency to some sort of self-forgiving peace.”

I love the relationship he has with his Mom.

"There was one thing I was sure of: it was going to be Patti and me for life, until the wheels come off."

I guess that's it then. He is committed to Patti. He won't be coming, anytime soon, to drag me up on stage and Dance in the Dark.

"Born in the USA" may not be his most prolific album ... let's be honest, it's not. He even admits it himself. BUT , that album did introduce me to The Boss. Maybe not 'introduce', as I had listened to The River and his earlier albums prior to listening to it, but it got me on board the concert circuit - 1st June. A happy day. It's also "Himself's" birthday - while I was rocking at Slane, he was elsewhere, doing university exams. We hadn't even met yet! Two years later, he did meet HIS Rock Chick!

My review cannot really do justice to this book. I hope to see Bruce many more times in concert. Long Live The Boss.

"Independence Day"

Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
I'll be leaving in the morning from St. Mary's Gate
We wouldn't change this thing even if we could somehow
Cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There's a darkness in this town that's got us too
But they can't touch me now
And you can't touch me now
They ain't gonna do to me
What I watched them do to you

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day
All down the line
Just say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day this time

Now I don't know what it always was with us
We chose the words, and yeah, we drew the lines
There was just no way this house could hold the two of us
I guess that we were just too much of the same kind

Well say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day all boys must run away
So say goodbye it's Independence Day
All men must make their way come Independence Day

Now the rooms are all empty down at Frankie's joint
And the highway she's deserted clear down to Breaker's Point
There's a lot of people leaving town now
leaving their friends, their homes
At night they walk that dark and dusty highway all alone

Well Papa go to bed now, it's getting late
Nothing we can say can change anything now
Because there's just different people coming down here now and they see things in different ways
And soon everything we've known will just be swept away

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say
But won't you just say goodbye it's Independence Day
I swear I never meant to take those things away

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
June 9, 2021
Excuse me as I quietly fangirl over here.

Yes, I'm 20-30 years younger than most of this fanbase but this was the music I was raised on.

I literally didn't know of pop until middle school. That's right. My parents hid decades of music from me and I couldn't have had a happier childhood. I was a grouchy old woman by the time I hit middle school, "NSYC? Turn that boppy crap down. You all should be listening to music with soul."

As a symptom of this, I can sing to nearly every Classic Rock song on the radio but I have no idea the artist/band/title (forgive me, I learned the songs when I was four). Ergo, I have decided to educate myself and what better way than by reading books?
Figure 1: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band circa 1977. To be perfectly honest, I only know which one is Springsteen because he's in the center. (I was FOUR okay) (I also always thought it was the East Street Band...)
This memoir is fairly in-depth - featuring over 500 pages covering Springsteen's childhood to present day. Every time dates or big world-events were mentioned, I was taken aback. It's a weird duality - because I listened to his music in the mid 90s, I made the assumption throughout my childhood that the music was made in the mid 90s.

So, when I would read about Springsteen getting the first TV on his block, dodging the draft or causing tension by including black band members - my immediate thought would be, "but surely he's not that old."
Figure 2. Bruce Springsteen in the 80s. I guess he really is that old
Unlike many memoirs of the famous, he does more than just name-dropping and humble-bragging. When he spoke about the early stages of his career, Springsteen cited the typical motivations of the times - Presley and the Beatles - but he gave far more page space to the real people (friends and folks around his hometown). He gave credit to everyone - especially to his mother who scrimped and saved to buy him his first guitar.

We do read about a few particularly memorable misadventures - for example Springsteen and many of his friends decided to dodge the draft. They wanted to continue their music, they didn't want to fight and (most importantly) they wanted to stay alive. So, they concocted a plan to take full advantage of the "mentally unfit" excuse:
We proceeded as follows:

Step 1. Make a mess out of your forms. Like them know they're trying to corral a drug-addicted gay patholically bed-wetting lunatic who can barely write his name into the US military.

Step 2. Make them believe it.
They proceeded to:
Act the mumbling, bumbling swishing don't give a fuck about orders freak. On STP, LSD and anything else you can get your hands on. A hippie outcast destroyer of troop moral, corroder of discipline, much more trouble than you're worth. Get the fuck out of here joke of a recruit.
He used his time saved from the military to launch his music career - though he did hit quite a few rough patches. From botched contracts to flighty band members, he's seen it all. But throughout his career, he had one, singular goal:
I wanted to craft a record that sounded like the last record on earth. Like the last record you might hear. The last one you'd ever need to hear. One glorious noise, then the apocalypse.
And to me, he's achieved it.

The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge- a book with song lyrics in the title

Audiobook Comments
It's a doozy - this audiobook stretches 18 hours but hey, it's read by the author! Woohoo!

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Profile Image for Kiekiat.
69 reviews126 followers
May 23, 2021
Bruce Springsteen's autobiography had been sitting on my shelf five years or so--a short time by my standards--and after reading "The Best and the Brightest" and "Middlemarch" I decided it was time for some lighter fare.

Let me say from the outset that I'm not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. My CD collection includes 8 Springsteen albums, and his "Born to Run" album is not one of them; my Spotify list has 50"liked" Springsteen songs and I have sixteen of Bruce's songs on my ITunes (yes, I still have that, too). FWIW, my favorite and most played is "Thunder Road."

But I came of age in the 70's, and so did Bruce Springsteen. I became aware of him in 1973 with the release of "The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle," his second album. It was his third record, "Born to Run," that propelled him to stardom and international fame. It was a damn good album that rocked! Springsteen's songs about working-class dreamers scrambling for a piece of the American dream were infused with soul, lyricism and had an energy that appealed to a wide swath of American youth. Springsteen made the cover of "Time" and "Newsweek" magazines and was hailed, as many that came before him, as "the new Dylan."

I always wondered why we needed a "new Dylan" when we already had the old one?

Springsteen was also acclaimed for his live shows--typically three-hour marathons with sold out audiences who recognized Springsteen as an artist willing to give everything he had.

It was this early Springsteen I was most familiar with and as the 70s drifted into the 80s I followed Springsteen's career peripherally, aware, though, that Springsteen was building a career that would propel him to the highest reaches of superstardom. Here's a quote from Wiki that should give one unfamiliar with Springsteen a glimpse of the level of fame he achieved:

Among the album era's prominent acts, Springsteen has sold more than 150 million records worldwide and more than 64 million albums in the United States, making him one of the world's best-selling music artists. He has earned numerous awards for his work, including 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award (for Springsteen on Broadway). Springsteen was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009, was named MusiCares person of the year in 2013, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016. He is ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Artists of All Time.[4] (This is the end of the Wiki quote. GR keeps pairing it with the first paragraph below.)

In his sixties, Springsteen admirably decided to write his own story--rare in the rock world where many artists use ghostwriters to chronicle their exploits and achievements. Bruce had been jotting down bits and pieces about his life over the years from playing in Jersey bar bands, musings about life and his family, particularly his strained relationship with his laconic father. He also put down his thoughts about his music, the bands he fronted and the inevitable friction between various band members.

Having this lifetime of jottings made writing his autobiography a bit easier for Springsteen than simply penning it from memory. Here's some takeaways I got from the book---

--Springsteen had the usual rough road to rock stardom that most great acts have. Playing live shows for free before paltry, unappreciative audiences and practicing like hell while living on luck and a few bucks until he became an "overnight sensation" after eight years of struggle. I'm not much of proponent of Malcolm Gladwell's notional 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field, but Springsteen certainly fits this bill as least partially. What Gladwell has left out in his ten-thousand-hour scheme is talent--something Springsteen had loads of.

--Springsteen helped me understand why some musicians and singers fail to achieve any acclaim and end up playing weekends at the local Holiday Inn and never achieve wide acclaim. Talent is not enough, Bruce says; the musicians who achieve international fame are artists who have poured their whole souls into their music. They have a commitment to greatness because they love the music and work their asses off. Bruce admits that he doesn't have a great voice, is not movie-star handsome and is not the greatest guitar player in the world. What separated him from the many artists playing in the Asbury Park, New Jersey area is that he put everything into his music, not with the goal of becoming rich and famous (though he certainly didn't mind that). People respond to an artist who's real, who is pouring their soul into a song and the audience can sense this and feel a strong connection to the performer. Note that I am speaking of world-class performers whose work has a chance of standing the test of time, a real accomplishment particularly in a genre as ephemeral as rock music.

--An artist undergoes a huge adjustment from playing local venues in his home state before crowds of hundreds of people to performing in a place like London's Royal Albert Hall in front of thousands of fans who've paid a lot of money to see you deliver. Bruce accounts how the first time he and his band played London he had a moment of uncertainty onstage where he began thinking of just how precarious it was to play to such a crowd. For a moment, he almost lost his composure but the moment of uncertainty taught him a valuable lesson that--when performing live he must put aside such notions of the momentousness of the occasion and focus only on delivering the music with true feeling and soul. And Bruce learned that lesson quite well!

--Bruce has an enormous ego and is quick to admit it. He has played music and written songs for so long that he knows when something is really good--but also is aware that recording equipment cannot be fooled and he knows when he sounds shitty or when something in the band is off-kilter. Bruce felt he was a front man early on in his career and never compromised his personal vision of what he wanted his band to be and what he wanted it to sound like. This sometimes led to friction in his group, and while Bruce was open to new ideas if he felt they had merit, at other times when he felt he was right he was intransigent. He makes no apologies for this.

Often in his live concerts, Springsteen would tell stories of his growing up in the small town of Freehold, New Jersey. Sometimes he would talk about times when his father put him down and times when his father drank too much and was emotionally absent from the family. But "Born to Run" tells a more complete story. Yes, Bruce had a fractious relationship with his father, yes, his father was often distant, but throughout the book you realize that Bruce's father Doug Springsteen was always in the picture. His father and mother and youngest sister moved to San Mateo, California when Bruce was 18 or 19. Bruce stayed in New Jersey to follow his dream but he had fairly frequent contact with his family and visited them in California when he could. Eventually, Bruce and his dad developed a more open relationship. This was aided when his father began manifesting mental health issues and went on medications that made him a much more congenial person.

--Bruce has his own demons and mental health issues and has been on anti-depressants for years, or was at the time the book was written. To his credit, he realized he had problems and was in therapy for many years--still may be. Some of his issues probably stem from growing up with a distant father, others may be biochemical. Whatever the case, he is not ashamed to admit that sometimes he has been at the brink of sanity and had to reach out for professional help.

--Despite whatever demons he had, Bruce managed to find love and have a family and his children are all grown and pursuing their own dreams. Family is most important to him, but his music is a close second and it probably has helped that Patty Scialfa, his second wife, is also a singer and musician and has given him support and called him on his bullshit in equal measure, as needed.

--Springsteen had a special love for his soulful saxophone player Clarence Clemons, who died from a variety of ailments. Bruce devotes a whole chapter of his book to Clarence and Clarence's presence is felt throughout the book. Springsteen realized how special having a player like Clemons in his band really was. Springsteen admits that sometimes his relationships with some band members were not so good, but he is never spiteful or vindictive when talking about these disputes.

Autobiographies can be a tricky thing for the reader. You have to take the author at face value and accept the narrative the writer offers. Springsteen admits that his book was not a tell-all and that things were left unsaid, usually, he adds, to protect the privacy of the other people involved. You get the sense, sometimes, that Springsteen is holding back and it seems clear that he tries hard not to paint himself as a saint or a victim and he comes across as pretty humble for a guy who's sold hundreds of millions of records.

Recommended for fans of Bruce Springsteen or fans of celebrity autobiographies.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews609 followers
October 3, 2019
This review is dedicated to my local friend, Margie 🎧🎶📚💕

My friend, Margie told me to choose this Audiobook.
I did - because she also told me to listen to
“Grateful American”, by Gary Sinise. It was powerful amazing-addictive-and life affirmative for me!!

Margie is now retired so we have more time to spend together.
Our daughters - 2 for each of us - are both in their mid/late 30’s. We’ve been friends since our families were busy schlepping our kids to Hebrew twice a week, Sunday school once a week... and all the other synagogue activities we participated in that go along with family/synagogue life.

Now Margie and I are older...having rekindled ‘our’ relationship, with profound chats, hiking, pool soaking, driving to SF or Santa Cruz for chosen activities... and always having book discussions.

Margie is a dedicated Audiobook fan. Recently retired PhD Professor of advance nutrition.
She’s been reading my reviews for years, which I didn’t know, to help her pick books to choose... she’s now helping me.
We’ve got an Audiobook-Thing- going now. It’s sooo fun!!!
I still extend many thanks to lovely *Iris*- who sent me my first two Audiobooks when I was a ‘stubborn- will-not listen-to-Audiobooks-girl’
- Iris said, “try it, you might like it”.
I do like it.....and I agree with both Iris & Margie: audiobooks has changed my life.

So... I trusted Margie again with “Born To Run”
.... we have very similar taste... and we both know the difference of when an audiobook works and when it doesn’t.
“Born to Run”...read by Springsteen, ‘works’ brilliantly as an Audiobook.

I could go on and on about how I admire Bruce Springsteen even more now having read his book.
it’s no accident about my timing.
Did you know Bruce Springsteen has a movie coming out this month called
“Western Stars”?/!
The movie trailer had me in tears!!!!
My god - this man is the real deal when it comes to being authentic.

Bruce tells ‘all’... unguarded and forthright!
...We learn about his creative music process throughout his career....
...his family....
... the suffering of serious mental illness and self-medicating addictions that ran through his family....
...the poverty....
...choosing to seek professional help
...a fishing trip with his father will having you laughing - rolling on the floor....
...etc etc etc.

This talent musician, and human being ... has an abundance of heart and soul!

“How does one change themselves?”
“How does a person let go of the destructive parts of our own broken pieces?”

An INCREDIBLE audiobook journey....
Bruce, ‘the boss’ >>> you rocked my little world!

*Margie* ... if you are reading this ( of course you don’t have to post anything ), but save the opening date to go see “Western Stars” together.
Oct. 19th is the opening day in our area.
And.... if you want to go see the movie “Blinded By The Light”, I’d be happy to see it a second time. It was fantastic!

5 warm-wonderful stars
Profile Image for Jenny.
269 reviews107 followers
August 4, 2018
I loved this book. Yes, I’m a Springsteen fan but I am not always a fan of autobiographical books. I couldn’t put it down and actually finished in a day. So much I had no idea about his life and he was so open in this book. He was honest with his feelings and stayed true to himself in this book. He is not without fault or demons but if your a fan, you will stay a fan but I think the Boss gained some new ones along the way. It’s a gritty book and not often pretty but just like his music says “show a little faith, there’s magic in the night. You ain’t a beauty but, hey, your alright. Oh, and that’s alright with me.” Must Read
Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
633 reviews349 followers
November 15, 2017
My husband (also a musician) does not share my enthusiasm for Springsteen’s music (yes, this has caused a few tense moments in our marriage) but admits that he is a great songwriter. When celebrities who are not authors write a memoir they undoubtedly get help from ghost writers so I did some searching and learned that he worked on his book alone for seven years before seeking out a publisher. I was pleased to discover that his songwriting chops crossed over intact to authoring and was engaged from the start. Bruce is a showman and entertainer. This one is verbose with many songs on the set list and no fan lucky enough to attend one of his legendary 3-4 hour concerts (that would be me) would expect anything less.
After reading about early then later family life, the inspiration and heartache behind the music, coping with serious depression, reinventing his music, the “brotherhood” of the band (RIP Big Man C), and the great blessings of his marriage and children, I was gratified to learn that I really like the generous and talented man behind the music I love.

That moment at the L.A. Coliseum when he sang
“So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore . . .”
then held the mike out to us and we sang right on cue . . .
“Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but, hey, you're alright
Oh, and that's alright with me.”

Thanks for such a memorable night Bruce. It was right up there with seeing The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl.
With that I'm dating myself and I “ain’t that young anymore” but I danced through the entire concert and only sat down at the intermission.

Fans, musicians (yes, even my husband) and music lovers everywhere will find this one is worthy of your time, especially if you grew up in the era of great rock and roll. I was doing the E. Street shuffle throughout the pages ‘cause tramps like me were born to run . . . and read. Music and reading from one source . . . A twofer!
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
672 reviews4,298 followers
August 9, 2018
"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."

And The Boss certainly delivered! Gah, I cannot compliment this book enough. Springsteen writes his autobiography like he writes his music, with an honest voice and in the most beautifully stunning way. He has a way with words. They reach inside you and open you up, heart and soul.

Reading about how Springsteen made it to the top is so inspiring. A man who came from nothing and would not stop until he had everything. All in a bid to achieve the elusive American dream... but what happens when you achieve the American dream? How does your music and style of writing change? How do you relate to the life you used to have and the dreams you used to strive for? All of this is covered in this book.

He documents his father's battles with mental health, before exploring the dark looming cloud hanging over him. He himself has inherited the susceptibility to depression and talks about it in such an open and honest way that only Springsteen could.

One of my major takeaways from this book is that Bruce Springsteen is a guy that will always empty the tank in everything he does and he infuses that philosophy into the E Street Band. They will play for at least 3 hours every night like it's the last concert they'll ever play. That is showmanship. That is passion. That is Bruce Springsteen.
Profile Image for Rae Meadows.
Author 7 books413 followers
March 26, 2017
I'm a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, so it would be hard for this not to be fun for me to read. I loved the stories of his childhood of near poverty, Catholicism, Freehold, NJ, his family, his awful father. Bruce's ambition, from the get-go, is fascinating. (As his desire for fame.) He is very honest and searching in this memoir--with thirty years of therapy to grease the wheels--and I found him to be quite articulate about his emotional landscape. He also takes a poignant look at depression and getting old. It was thrilling to hear him discuss how he wrote particular albums and how he writes songs.

Less interesting to me were all the early bands/band members/figures who come in and out. Some of his aggrandizing (of himself and others) got tired. The book is a little repetitive and definitely could have used a more heavy-handed editor. But, hey, it's Bruce Springsteen. I think he's a fabulous storyteller in songs--Darkness on the Edge of Town? The River? Nebraska?--and he does a pretty fine job of it here in long form.
Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
479 reviews190 followers
July 18, 2022
Loved this book, it's so well written and I liked getting to know more about Springsteen as I never knew much about him beforehand but a lot of his songs I've had on repeat for years such as I'm On Fire which gives me goosebumps everytime and Streets of Philadelphia, which is like a shot to the heart! - among others**

This book is about his life growing up, the difficult relationship with his father, his early years musically, his self doubts and ongoing battle with depression, marriage, being a parent, his creativity, his fame and endurance.

He bares it all, I like his honesty.

It's funny, it's sad, it's informative and filled with wisdom.

Couldn't put this brilliant autobiography down, I recommend it if you're a fan.

Now, I'm away to play some music. 🎸

Long live The Boss! ❤
Profile Image for Emma.
986 reviews1,004 followers
March 6, 2017
I am not a Springsteen fan (nor detractor). Before listening to this, I could have named perhaps one of his songs, though I'm sure I would have known more if I were played them. Yet when I heard his Desert Island Discs interview I was mesmerised by his personality, his voice, and his honesty (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0855znp). This man is not just a rock/pop/soul icon, he's interesting and has something to say. On top of all that, he has an incredibly warm, inviting tone, with a huskiness that suggests the daredevil beneath. When I saw that he had narrated his own memoir and had done so recently, I was drawn to find out more.

His words are beautiful crafted. I'm not sure why that was such a surprise to me, but his storytelling and writing style has moments of such stunning emotive and descriptive power that I immediately understood why his music has meant so much to so many for so long. There are truths within it. His own truths are bared to the reader/listener too. His openness about his depression was both stark and affirming; he speaks without shame about his tears, the good times and the bad, the ways in which love and support has kept him going. Here, the audio wins hands down: you can hear every bit of emotion as he talks about his family and friends, his mistakes and triumphs; every detail imbued with a frank self-reflection that I would struggle to apply to my own life. It felt like he was talking to me alone, perhaps in a bar over a beer, but it was more of a celebration than a confession.

It is all you can ask of someone in this kind of recounting, that they reveal what is is their mind and who they are. In this, Bruce Springsteen has excelled.
Profile Image for Kelli.
851 reviews403 followers
May 9, 2017
18 hours is a lot of Bruce. To be fair, it's a lot of anyone, but there is no better way to experience this than on audio with Bruce Springsteen expressively telling his story in his perfectly gravelly voice. The beginning chapters were especially touching as he nostalgically described in detail his day-to-day upbringing with his extended family, his deep love for them, and his sense of attachment and loyally to his family, his friends, and his neighborhood. It's difficult not to admire his ability to always keep his eye on the prize. He knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a rock legend and he did it.

What I loved about this were the gems of wisdom he casually dropped that only come with age. Had I read this, I could have marked them down and put them in my review. There were many, they often came out of nowhere, and they were brilliant. I loved the relaxed delivery of these lines. I often thought what he had just said was a line in one of his songs, and I enjoyed hearing the back stories to some of those songs, even when he didn't actually point it out.

Bruce Springsteen remains an enigma even after alllll those hours I spent listening to him tell his story. At times arrogant, at times humble, he has the tremendously high opinion of himself required to be a rock legend, yet he appears to possess great humility. He has released a lot of musicians from his various bands, he himself always in charge, yet he appears to have nothing negative to say about anyone and refers to most as very dear friends.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this but I did feel it needed some serious editing. Then again, who would have the balls to tell Bruce Springsteen that they were going to cut out 200 pages of rambling stories from his memoir? We all know he'd just fire them but remain their good friend! To me Bruce Springsteen remains an awe-inspiring talent, who has never forgotten where he came from. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Jay Gabler.
Author 12 books134 followers
September 27, 2016
A rock memoir like none other, a strange and extraordinary book that just might be counted as one of his greatest achievements. No, really.
Profile Image for Taylor Reid.
Author 22 books162k followers
July 5, 2017
I wasn't even a Bruce Springsteen person but ended up reading this book anyway and I am now a convert. I haven't stopped listening to Bruce Springsteen since the book ended. Great story, well told, with great lines (naturally) and a fascinating lens into fame and loneliness. Now I'm a fan for life.
Profile Image for Lynx.
198 reviews83 followers
February 24, 2018
Wow. This is hands down one of the greatest memoirs I've ever read. The 500 pages breeze by in no time at all and I was sad when it came to a close. Bruce opens up about his struggles in childhood and how those things came to effect his adult life in both his career and personal relationships. He also, of course, goes into great detail about his rise from wannabe rockstar to full fledged Rock n Roll icon. His chapter about his relationship with Clarence actually had me tearing up.

Bruce's honesty along with his incredible storytelling make this a must read. You don't have to be a die hard fan to find this relatable and worthwhile.
Profile Image for brian   .
248 reviews3,120 followers
February 9, 2017
40 favorite, ranked:

racing in the street
the river
thunder road
i’m on fire
something in the night
ghost of tom joad
wreck on the highway
because the night
death to my hometown
dancing in the dark
adam raised a cain
tenth avenue freeze-out
born to run
downbound train
johnny 99
point blank
sherry darling
promised land
this american land
human touch
brilliant disguise
atlantic city
independence day
4th of july, asbury park (sandy)
further on up the road
spirit in the night
for you
it’s hard to be a saint in the city
highway patrolman
state trooper
tunnel of love
lonesome day
the ties that bind
cover me
radio nowhere
lost in the flood
sad eyes
February 21, 2021
“My music would be a music of identity, a search for meaning and the future.”

I have been listening to his music for 40+ years and I enjoy it as much now as I did back then. Bruce Springsteen is a masterful musician, songwriter, storyteller and all around cool human being. Born to Run was like going on a journey with The Boss, through all of his ups and downs, and I loved it! 4.5 stars rounded up.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
762 reviews570 followers
May 14, 2020
Awesome singer, masterful songwriter, outstanding musician, and now, enthralling storyteller - what can't Bruce Springsteen do? From his early childhood upbringing to his battle with mental illness, Springsteen's story is raw, deep, humorous, self-deprecating, humble, thoughtful, soul-searching - like his songs; his music. He respectfully reminisces, with gratitude, his family, friends, bandmates, business partners, other musical greats and various personal and world events that have shaped him and influenced his musical career. Stories like the time he got his first guitar, his initial attempts playing in a band at his high school, his trip to Disneyland with his bandmates, his fishing adventure with his dad, his horse riding experiences - these were laugh-out-loud moments for me. Listening to "The Boss" narrate this audiobook format was definitely the way to appreciate his story! Throughout this book, I would stop to Google his songs, videos and lyrics - I will never listen to "Born in the U.S.A." the same way again! Whether you are a die-hard fan or just enjoy reading memoirs, I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Erik Jay Weber.
64 reviews3 followers
September 27, 2016
Filled from start to end with at least as many Jersey Shore references, shout-outs, legends and myths as his albums, both with and without the E Street Band, this 500+ page tome, a Big Book for the Boss, is a joy to read for the hardcore fan to the casual hits listener. Written in a prose that can be described as Ray Bradbury by way of rock ‘n’ soul journeyman, “Bruuuuuuuuuuce” captures, recreates and spins the famous and infamous events and inner thoughts in the magic life of a man whose name is evoked so many times up and down our coast that one can very nearly hear it echoed in the almost total silence of its late-night circuit streets.

Formed as three “books” within a book – Growin’ Up, Born to Run and Living Proof – and further broken down as a series of chronological essays with accompanying Backstreets-esque titles, it opens on his Freehold youth, where, at odds with a difficult 1950s-era factory worker father and under the wing of, first, a somewhat smothering grandmother despite his loving mother, Springsteen traces his burgeoning drive and ambitions while immersed in a heavily Catholic student life. Alternating between socioeconomic, rock and American history, readers peer over his shoulder as his mind is blown by Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, rents an acoustic guitar and takes some lessons, then quits. According to the man himself, “it was TOO FUCKIN’ HARD!”

And so could have ended the story, but for the steady flow of pop music running up to the “second coming,” eight years after The King shook his hips and made the nation scream, when The Beatles neatly flew in from England through the hole blown in America’s emotional psyche by the assassination of John F. Kennedy and lit the fuse of the “real” 1960s. Springsteen quickly returned to guitar – a purchased low-end acoustic – and a vague idea what to do with it, into a better idea what to do with it and an electric purchased half by chopping down grass on lawns throughout the Freehold area and half through a loan his mother received from her employer. It’d be easy to say the rest is history, but The Boss, intent on letting everyone in on his thoughts, ideas, experiences and some secrets, holds our hand as he laughs, cries, explains and preaches through forty-plus years of failure, lukewarm reception, moderate success, better success, superhero success, psychological turmoil and mistakes and, finally, family, love and a sort of ceasefire with his demons, when he can swing it.

Being of and from the Jersey Shore, I’d be remiss to point out that the shore, its denizens, thoughts, and times are woven throughout the life and tales of Freehold and Asbury Park’s favorite son so much that it wouldn’t be a conceptual leap to imagine beach sand and boardwalk barkers falling from its pages if shaken. The man himself is an admitted late night cruiser of these streets of his and ours, and unabashedly writes sweet nothings at us. It’s a great, great book, of one hell of a roller-coaster ride of a life. Don’t believe us? Ask author Richard Ford, writing for the New York Times Book Review this past Sunday - http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/boo... .

In closing, what better way to celebrate the life of Bruce – other than heading to Freehold later and getting a pre-signed copy in the presence of The Boss himself – than picking up his big ol’ book right on Cookman Avenue, where he and the E Street band of rock compadres shuffled up and down in the heady early years, from Words! Asbury Park? Click here for for hours and exact address - https://www.facebook.com/wordsAsburyPark . Enjoy!
Profile Image for Antigone.
517 reviews750 followers
April 12, 2017
Now there's tears on the pillow
darlin' where we slept
and you took my heart when you left.
Without your sweet kiss
my soul is lost, my friend
tell me how do I begin again?

My city's in ruins.
My city's in ruins.

Bruce Springsteen was forever on the periphery of my awareness. Until the night he wasn't.

There are moments in this life. All too infrequent instants that shatter the black ice covering the earth of this existence. There are lightning-quick seconds of deep needs met that part the veil and provide you the reason you need to go on living. Because every day, if we're honest about it, is a day we're forced to take another first step into the world; a step that is just as perilous as the one we took when we righted ourselves at the tender age of two. And every day it is a damned hard thing to have to do. And every day, as life moves through its many stony seasons, every day is a day you're sifting your memory for that reason. Why am I doing this again? What was so awe-inspiring about this human race that made it worth putting the key in the ignition and backing down the driveway again? Oh yeah. That's right. Okay.

One dark night, amid a sea of flickering candles, the Jersey gravel rose...and took the nation with it. September. 2001.

Those are moments you don't mess around with. And so it was with great trepidation that I took up Mr. Springsteen's autobiography. And all I'm thinking is: Don't steal my instant, Bruce. Don't take away this reason. And he didn't.

Over the course of seven years, between gigs and sessions and songwriting, Bruce Springsteen would pull out a pen and go to work on this story. It was a pace to be pleased with as it allowed his trademark workingman's lyricism an entry to his prose. Apart from the standard memoir chronologies (childhood, profession, marriages), he includes advice and warning for those intent on following his path. There's a fabulous section on his belief that living fast and dying young defeats the purpose. A rueful eye recalls the cost of disregarding the fine print in contracts. Then there's the black dog that caught up with him on the heels of his success - a depression dark enough to steal years of his life and set the core of his confidence trembling. While honesty might have been expected, the level of authenticity encountered here is destined to surprise.

If memoir's your game, this is one you'll kick yourself for not getting your hands on sooner.
Profile Image for Jim.
576 reviews88 followers
December 25, 2016
3.5 Stars

I only had one opportunity to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. It was at the Spectrum in Philadelphia during "The River" tour. I had been a fan of "The Boss" thanks in large part due to Ed Sciaky at WMMR. The concert remains one of my all time favorites. The energy! The chemistry between Bruce and the E-Street Band. This was especially evident between Bruce and Clarence "The Big Man" Clemmons. And the chemistry between Bruce and his fans.

When I saw Bruce had written his memoir it was instantly placed on my TBR shelf. I knew he had grown up just across the Delaware river in Freehold, NJ and I knew that there had been a history between him and his father. Beyond that I didn't know much. There was a lot of tension, a generation gap, between parents and children who grew up in the 1960's. How did Bruce Springsteen become one of today's rock icons? Bruce tells you all about growing up Catholic in working class Freehold, the transformative moments of seeing Elvis and The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. There is talent ... obviously. There was luck. Many people have talent but you need some luck along the way. But there was also drive and hard work. I heard about the days playing in the bars in Asbury Park but he didn't spend all of his time there waiting to be discovered. For example there was a time when he literally scraped pennies together in order to get to New York city.

People may envy Bruce. He is rich. He is famous. But along with the highs there are the lows. He tells us the story of his life with honesty and humor. I had to laugh when I read about a cross country trip when he was forced by circumstance to do some of the driving ... when he didn't have a license or even know how to drive. There is the story about a fishing trip to Mexico that his father arranged. The story about how his wife Patti (Scialfa) got him to get up earlier in the mornings so he could help with the children and in the process he learned to make pancakes. Then there is the depression. I never knew that Bruce suffered from this. He is open and honest and by telling his story I think he may reach others who are also impacted.
Profile Image for Michael.
84 reviews16 followers
October 5, 2016
The beauty of Born to Run isn’t that it’s a biography of Bruce Springsteen, the beauty is that it’s written by Bruce himself. His spirit, his style, his nuances and his voice: the same things that draw us so tightly to his music, that make us cling so strongly to his words and sing them so loudly when no one’s watching (or in my case, listening!) and that serve as the links that allow us to see ourselves in verse after verse of his songs, are what ultimately make this book so great.

A lot of us have read about Bruce endlessly since that historic week in October 1975 so reading about him now is nothing new, but in Born to Run we’re not reading about him. Born to Run is much more personal than that. Through the words of these pages we’re listening to him talk to us. Reading Born to Run is like sitting at a restaurant across the table from Bruce while he talks to only us about everything in his life and his career and we sit there eating apple pie with a goofy schoolboy grin on our face because, hey, we’re sitting at a table across from Bruce Springsteen with no one else in the world around and tell me, what fan hasn’t had that fantasy. This book allowed me to feel close to Bruce in a way that nothing, short of being allowed to climb up onstage and shout out "1, 2, 3, 4" in the middle of Born to Run, ever will.

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Bruce Springsteen is a legend. If you don’t like his songs then you might not care to read about his life, but if you have even the slightest passing interest in the man, or wondered what all the fuss has been for the last 40+ years, then this is the autobiography you’ve been waiting for. I thought the beginning was a little slow but then I usually think that about the early life accounts in nearly every autobiography I read, but the last 2/3’s of the book are everything you could hope for. Reading Born to Run is every bit as joyous as seeing the man perform live or listening to him on record and it satisfies completely.
269 reviews5 followers
December 13, 2016
Born to Run is a weird book.

I don’t mean “weird” in any salacious sense - if Springsteen has ever indulged in much deviant behavior he doesn’t disclose it here. No, I mean that in a broader, more meta sense. The fact that Springsteen wrote this specific memoir just seems strange to me.

A big part of that is because Springsteen himself is probably an odd person. For example, his prose alternates between bombastic enthusiasm and matter of factness; when he’s trying to articulate an abstract idea (like the importance of rock and roll as a cultural idea) he goes all in, but when he’s actually discussing his first hand experience as a successful rock and roller he gets a bit reticent. However, that balancing act makes sense because he is obviously very self aware about who he is and how people perceive him... So of course he knows that he’s a very rich man who made his money by writing about the downtrodden... So of course he’s sensitive about avoiding any sort of bragging (or even fake humility, which is a different sort of bragging)… But at the same time he knows the people want to get a show and he wants to give it to them. He comes across as a man who has painted himself into a corner, trapped between his desire for authenticity and his awareness that his authentic life is going to seem ostentatious to a lot of people who earnestly believe in his myth.

His weirdness as a writer isn’t limited to his prose style – Springsteen’s topic selection is also odd. He covers every album in his discography but sometimes he knocks them off in a page or two, barely going into any sort of detail. He rarely details the origins of specific songs or offers insights into how he interprets their lyrical content. However he does make time to discuss various motorcycle trips he’s taken, and why he’s taken them, and what his favorite highways are. It’s clear that he wants to remain relateable but he also doesn’t want to let anyone get close. (That isn’t just armchair analysis on my part - he’s very open about how he needs his privacy, even from his closest confidants.) As a result he wrote a book that alternates between honest insights into his life and ‘relatable’ anecdotes that feel like smoke-screens and distractions from who he really is. (Anecdotes that, quite frankly, often felt like non-stories to me, but then again I’ve never cared for Kerouac-style road-musings.)

As a result Born To Run is kind of neither fish nor fowl. It isn’t quite an encyclopedic tell-all (like, say, Keith Richards book), but it also isn’t an impressionistic piece of writing that is more about conveying the author’s essence than it is about relating the specifics of their life (like, say, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles.) Instead, it’s some odd amalgamation of the two, juxtaposing elements of a linear biography with beat-inspired musings and self-help style psychological analysis.

Which is not to say that this book doesn’t have it’s charms. All of the respective parts work reasonably well. I’m glad that Springsteen was able to write so meticulously about his long career. I agree with the broad strokes of his philosophical musings about what is important in life, and his perspective on male-female relations is interesting, and his discusions of race relations are refreshing. Most importantly: the sections where he analyzes his own personal shortcomings are the best parts of the book – his discussion of his battle with depression is fascinating, especially given that it’s so at odds with his public persona, where he seems like an unstoppable ball of energy.

It is just frustrating that all of those strains are woven together when they would work so much better if they were slightly separated. When you read a passage where he’s more honest than you would expect a celebrity of his status to be and then you turn the page and find a passage where he’s more guarded than a memoirist should be... Well, you kind of get whiplash.

It’s clear that his decades of therapy have helped him understand his internal contradictions but not reconcile them, and that sort of mental ambiguity is exactly what you want from an author who is working on an autobiography. That sort of tension is generally fascinating, and it allows a reader to compare and contrast how the writer sees themselves with how the reader sees them. But here it just leads to a tangle that’s simultaneously rigid and meandering, refreshing and stymying, endearing and off putting…

Like I said: it’s a weird book.
Profile Image for Carole.
503 reviews92 followers
August 26, 2022
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen is an autobiography of an ordinary man, not a rock star. He starts at the very beginning of his life, describing that life as if it were yesterday. Everything is included here. His dreams, his disappointments, his tribulations, his joys and his life as a grandson, a son, a husband and a father. This book is a small gem about one man looking back on the road he has travelled. I enjoyed the writing style and the emotional voice of Springsteen on the audiobook. There is a quality of honesty and unblemished good and bad. He clearly has given much thought to putting his life down on paper. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Louise.
1,672 reviews302 followers
December 16, 2016

Bruce Springsteen thoughtfully tells his story. Along with his personal reflections there is a lot here for future biographers and chroniclers of this period in rock history. He writes of his family (most riveting for me), his bands and how he formed them, the genesis of his songs and albums and about performing.

Most autobiographers tell you their experience as a child, very few attempt to interpret their parents’ experience of the family. Springsteen does, particularly in the case of his mother whose loyalty to a bad situation knew no bounds. His writing of his own children, particularly experiencing birth for the first time, is also unique. Of the other hard rockers whose bios I’ve read, I can’t remember if Pete Townsend (Who I Am) even mentioned having children and from what Keith Richards wrote (Life), he was far from Springsteen's awe of seeing new life or from being the breakfast-making chauffeur dad that Springsteen became.

The music press will be more interested in how the music was created and the deals that brought it to the public. Springsteen is clearly the head of his band. He writes of the decisions that have to be made, and some are tough, for instance, how he had to steel himself to get out of his Mike Appel contract and navigate the waters of Columbia Records once his early mentors had left. Tougher still may be the personnel decisions. A band member may be the best player of their instrument in the world, but has to fit into the sound. The death of Clarence Clemons and the recruitment to fill his shoes and “on the job training” of his eventual replacement show personnel practices that are very different from most workplaces.

Some chapters are woven around the albums and songs. “The River” is an ode to his sister who recognized her life immediately. “Born in the USA” was inspired by having, by chance, met Ron Kovic, the author of “Born on the Fourth of July”. The “Tunnel of Love” album reflected his life at the time. While America may have been somewhat ready for “The Streets of Philadelphia” the police clearly were not ready for “American Skin” when he invited the family of Amadou Diallo to his performance of it. Springsteen says nothing about his more directly political electoral work. There is no index, but I don’t remember a significant mention of President Obama for whom he campaigned.

Springsteen writes a lot about the audience. How he listens to the audience, but does not compromise on the creative output. His work is all his and he notes that he is one of the few songwriters who can claim ownership of all their material. He writes of different venues in the US and abroad (particularly East Germany before the wall came down), noting the historical feel of some (particularly the Apollo) what it is like to play with those (particularly Jagger and Richards) who inspired his music.

Coming from where he did, accomplishing what he did on talent, determination and grit, if there is an American Original – it is Bruce Springsteen.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,975 reviews53 followers
February 5, 2017
4.5 stars.

I'm a fan of Bruce Springsteen so I knew I had to read this one. This was wonderful and not just because I'm a fan and not just because I read a lot of autobiographies. This book was well done. It took more than a few years to write, and it shows. He took his time with this project. This felt honest and real. He didn't just show the the bright and shiny moments of his life. He opened up and let the reader in. I loved that. He was quite expressive and had an amazing way with words. I hate that he was draft-dodger, but I think I like him even more now, than I did before reading this. I would read this again just for the writing style.
Profile Image for Matthew.
501 reviews17 followers
Want to read
April 1, 2016
I desperately need my hands on this book and learn everything from my idol. Powerful voice and breath taking lyrics to unforgettable songs. I need more iconic musicians to write their autobiography and showcase the way on how they became famous and the journey it took for them to get where they are at now. I want all the Bruce Springsteen I can get!

Profile Image for Deb.
646 reviews33 followers
February 17, 2017
So, so beautifully written and incredibly honest. I could hear Bruce's voice on every page. He has honored us with sharing this gift, this 510 page song.
Profile Image for Char.
1,682 reviews1,556 followers
May 11, 2017
This is the best damn autobiography I've ever read or listened to, and I'm not even a Springsteen fan.

I am now, but not because of his music; it's because of his writing- his honesty, his humor, and his work ethic. His battles with depression and mental illness in his family must have been painful for him to admit, but it all rang true to me.

Don't get me wrong-I did have a few issues with him-most especially his reputation as a working man, or a rock and roller that represents the working man-and his not having worked a real job, (other than cutting lawns and carrying groceries to make the money for his second guitar), a day in his life! I guess I feel like he made up for that by doggedly pursuing his dreams and desires.

If you like Bruce Springsteen, or even if you don't, I highly recommend you read this book.
Profile Image for Jamie.
Author 21 books3,178 followers
April 29, 2021
I've been on a music memoir kick as of late--all with the audio versions of the books.

It's wonderful to listen to Springsteen in his own voice and then switch to the album he's talking about, listen to the whole thing, and then go back and continue with the book.

Highly recommended for your next road trip.
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