Over the years I’ve written about countless bands, reviewed numerous gigs and albums, traced the climb of rising stars and chronicled their fall from grace but I’ve long since given up ambitions of becoming a music journalist.
As it turns out, I’m just not fanatical enough. I don’t really care where The Stones’ third album first charted in Azerbaijan or how many singles Bjork sold in Bulgaria in 1993. I don’t understand Radiohead, nor do I wish to. I like what I like and even then, I’m rarely inspired to the point of watching old interviews on YouTube or reading biographies.
Until Born to Run that is.
Growing up, Bruce Springsteen was akin to God in my house. Although considering the atheist / bad Catholic nature of the household I grew up in, perhaps God is not enough.
While his lyrics sound-tracked my childhood, Springsteen’s life remained a mystery to me, beyond the intriguing witty anecdotes which pepper his live performances. I was, in the grand scheme of things, an immature fan, unfamiliar with the love affairs which inspired his songs or the E Street backstory and infighting. My mother’s love of The Boss had permeated my life over years of Saturday mornings and long car journeys until I could sing along with every album track, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties, skint and feeling disconnected from some sense of purpose that I really started to listened to Springsteen – to hear the words for what they were – stories, and deeply personal ones at that.
His autobiography traces the same stories, building on the echos and shadows which colour Springsteen’s albums, putting more meat on the bones of narratives we’re already half familiar with. But there is something much more revealing in Born to Run; Springsteen is not just honest, he is confessional.
“At first I thought it might have been all this death around me. But as deeply as I loved all of these people, death I can handle; it’s this other… thing. This thing I have studied and fought against for the better part of sixty-five years. It comes in darkness or in broad daylight, each time wearing a subtly different mask, so subtle that some like myself who have fought it and named it multiple times welcome it in like an old friend. Then once again it takes up deep residence in my mind, heart and soul until it is finally routed out after doing its wreckage.”