The Boss tells all

> Bruce Spring­steen re­veals com­ing to terms with his fa­ther, and bat­tling de­pres­sion in his riv­et­ing mem­oir, Born to Run


Spring­steen’s late fa­ther Doug – who worked a string of un­sta­ble blue-col­lar jobs, strug­gled with drink­ing and men­tal ill­ness, and only he­si­tantly late in life ac­knowl­edged his fail­ings to his son – looms as a re­flec­tion both for the artiste’s life and for the state of Amer­ica in Born to Run, pub­lished on Sept 27. The Born in the USA chron­i­cler of work­ing-class Amer­ica de­scribes his child­hood fear of his fa­ther in their poorly heated home in Free­hold, New Jer­sey and also re­veals that he has spent years him­self in treat­ment for de­pres­sion. While sens­ing that he in­her­ited his fa­ther’s de­mons, the 67-year-old rocker also sees broader traits in his dad – “the rigid­ity and blue-col­lar nar­cis­sism of man­hood 1950s-style”.

“I haven’t been com­pletely fair to my fa­ther in my songs, treat­ing him as an archetype of the ne­glect­ing, dom­i­neer­ing par­ent,” he writes.

“Our story is much more com­pli­cated. Not in the details of what hap­pened, but in the ‘why’ of it all.”

Spring­steen – who spent seven years writ­ing Born to Run, named af­ter one of best-known songs, in long hand – in­fuses the 510-page book with his mu­sic’s same lyri­cal voice.

In a re­view, UK’s The Guardian wrote: “By the stan­dards of most rock star au­to­bi­ogra­phies, Born to Run is nei­ther sen­sa­tional nor self­serv­ing (you can for­give Bruce for drop­ping that Jack Ni­chol­son called him “king of New Jer­sey” at Si­na­tra’s fu­neral), with plenty of self-dep­re­ca­tory digs and way fewer cars than in the songs.”

In the book, Spring­steen evoca­tively weaves to­gether sto­ries of blue-col­lar Amer­ica as he re­counts his early days as a strug­gling artiste.

His teenage band landed a gig play­ing at a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal, where he writes that pa­tients sang along “vig­or­ously” to a cover of We Gotta Get out of This Place by The An­i­mals. An­other early show in 1969 was marred

by a

tele­vi­sion in the bar – pa­trons were dis­tracted by watch­ing the Apollo 11 Moon land­ing. -And as he first makes his break into the New York-based mu­sic in­dus­try, he is so broke that he tries to pay the toll to en­ter through the Lin­coln Tun­nel from New Jer­sey by pay­ing pen­nies – and is nearly pre­vented af­ter the op­er­a­tor sifts through the 100 coins and finds that one is Cana­dian.

Spring­steen’s fam­ily was so cash-strapped that he says he never ate at a restau­rant un­til his 20s.

But his mother Adele, a sec­re­tary, man­aged to save enough to help him buy his first elec­tric gui­tar.

His mother emerges as the hero­ine of his book, sac­ri­fic­ing for young Bruce and stick­ing by her hus­band, judg­ing that for all his faults he would never aban­don the fam­ily.

Spring­steen, whose Dutch sur­name comes from his fa­ther, says he iden­ti­fies with his mother’s Ital­ian her­itage and grew up Ro­man Catholic, a faith wit­nessed later in his songs’ themes of re­demp­tion.

His mother at age 90 be­came an on­line sen­sa­tion ear­lier this year when she danced with her son, even shak­ing her be­hind, as he packed an­other con­cert at New York’s Madi­son Square Gar­den.

De­spite be­ing a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist, Spring­steen did not grow up po­lit­i­cal. He says that his mother told him only that they voted Demo­cratic as they were work­ing class.

In re­cent years, Spring­steen has been in­creas­ingly ac­tive, cam­paign­ing for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and other Democrats, and speak­ing out through his 2001 song Amer­i­can Skin (41 Shots), about New York po­lice’s fa­tal shoot­ing of Guinean im­mi­grant Amadou Diallo.

But his most po­lit­i­cal res­o­nant song may still be 1984’s Born in the USA, about a Viet­nam War vet­eran re­turn­ing home to dis­com­fort.

Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan hailed the song as he ran for re­elec­tion, a move that Spring­steen in his book de­scribes as cyn­i­cal.

Spring­steen writes that the song re­mains a Rorschach test for lis­ten­ers to find their mean­ing – but he has no re­grets.

“If I’d tried to un­der­cut or change the mu­sic, I be­lieve I would’ve had a record that would’ve been more eas­ily un­der­stood but not as sat­is­fy­ing.” – AFP-Re­laxnews

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