Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll
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Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll

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by Marc Dolan
     
 

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A vibrant biography of one of the greatest rock 'n' rollers, the America that made him, and the America he made.

This smart, incisive biography traces Bruce Springsteen’s evolution from a young artist who wasn’t sure what he wanted to say to an acclaimed musician with a distinctive vision for a better society. Brilliantly analyzing and evoking

Overview

A vibrant biography of one of the greatest rock 'n' rollers, the America that made him, and the America he made.

This smart, incisive biography traces Bruce Springsteen’s evolution from a young artist who wasn’t sure what he wanted to say to an acclaimed musician with a distinctive vision for a better society. Brilliantly analyzing and evoking Springsteen’s output, Marc Dolan unveils the pulsing heart of his music: its deep personal, political, and cultural resonances, which enabled Springsteen to reflect on his experiences as well as the world around him. The book is now updated with a new chapter on The Promise, Wrecking Ball, and the 2012 tour.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
…[a] smart new critical biography…[Marc Dolan] knows the music, the milieu and enough about the man to present a balanced portrait of a brash, gifted kid from Freehold, N.J., who went from making $750 for three weekend shows at a Dupont Circle bar in 1973 to the covers of Time and Newsweek—simultaneously—two years later…Those who are interested in the shaping of an American icon—and, more significantly, the creation of some lasting American music—may be directed safely to this book.
—Tim Page
New York Times Book Review
Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ’n’ Roll endeavors to get to the heart of its subject by viewing him through the economic, social, political, religious and family turmoil that formed a musician who found out early on how to make his guitar talk but spent painful decades refining what he needed to make it say. Springsteen’s creative evolution and endurance as a populist American rock ’n’ roll hero is, according to Dolan, "a slantwise way of telling the history of our times, how we have come together and divided over the last half-century, how we have changed what we think of ourselves as a people."”— Robin Finn
Christian Science Monitor
“This intelligent examination of the career of Bruce Springsteen traces the rock icon's ability to balance two disparate identities.... An intelligent fan book written by a sophisticated admirer.”— Darryl Lorenzo
Asbury Park Press
“The definitive Springsteen biography/musical analysis, finely written and meticulously researched... by an academic who can write for a popular audience.... For fans, Dolan’s book is a necessary addition to the Springsteen library. For more casual listeners, who often wonder just what the fuss is all about, this volume is a good place to start.”— Michael Riley
USA Today
“[Dolan’s] approach is at once academic and unapologetically enthusiastic. Classic songs and albums are deconstructed at length, along with their back stories and reception. Springsteen's personal evolution is measured in similar depth, from his tense relationship with his working-class father to the political consciousness reflected in his work, and how it's been variously interpreted (and misconstrued).... Devotees will delight in Dolan's account of the superstar's salad days playing Jersey clubs. (3 out of 4 stars)”— Elysa Gardner
Time Out New York
“Marc Dolan's Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll is more than pulp for fans: It provides both social and political context to the songs and albums in the Jersey boy's canon.”
Backstreets.com
“A well-researched, comprehensive analysis of Springsteen's life and work to date, with an emphasis on the music.”
radio.com
“Dolan makes a point of telling more than just the Boss’ personal history, putting his putting his musical contributions in context with the country’s political state.”
Booklist
“Readable and engrossing.”
Washington Post
“Those who are interested in the shaping of an American icon—and, more significantly, the creation of some lasting American music—may be directed safely to this book.”— Tim Page
Douglas Brinkley
“A riveting profile of New Jersey’s great bard. Dolan, the ultimate Springsteen fan, has an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. And his infectious love of American popular music is nothing short of awesome. The best book on Bruce ever written!”
Robin Finn - New York Times Book Review
“Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ’n’ Roll endeavors to get to the heart of its subject by viewing him through the economic, social, political, religious and family turmoil that formed a musician who found out early on how to make his guitar talk but spent painful decades refining what he needed to make it say. Springsteen’s creative evolution and endurance as a populist American rock ’n’ roll hero is, according to Dolan, "a slantwise way of telling the history of our times, how we have come together and divided over the last half-century, how we have changed what we think of ourselves as a people."”
Tim Page - Washington Post
“Those who are interested in the shaping of an American icon—and, more significantly, the creation of some lasting American music—may be directed safely to this book.”
Michael Riley - Asbury Park Press
“The definitive Springsteen biography/musical analysis, finely written and meticulously researched... by an academic who can write for a popular audience.... For fans, Dolan’s book is a necessary addition to the Springsteen library. For more casual listeners, who often wonder just what the fuss is all about, this volume is a good place to start.”
William McKeen
“A unique biography of a great rock ’n roll artist drawn from 40 years of thrilling performances. If you’re a Springsteen fan, this will deepen your appreciation. And if you’re not a fan, what the hell is wrong with you?”
Terry Staunton
“With the notable exception of Bob Dylan, no other singer-songwriter still active in the 21st Century has spawned as many academic studies as The Boss, and Dolan’s book is among the very best. As a chronicler of our times, Springsteen has few equals... and the author’s examination of an extraordinary body of work is as clear-headed and accessible as the music itself.... By necessity, his book also serves as a history of America, outlining a nation’s political conflicts, class disparity, prejudices and shortcomings.... [T]he author is especially evocative in his descriptions of working class New Jersey in the 60s and early 70s. Where he scores his most emphatic bullseyes, however, is in his assessment of how Springsteen handled his wealth and stardom; of how his conscience and politics adapted to being one of the most famous men in the world without losing sight of the struggles of his core audience, the ‘little’ man on the street.”
John Matteson
“Marc Dolan has written a book of rock criticism at its finest. He brings to the story of Bruce Springsteen an encyclopedic knowledge, a clean, fast-moving prose style, and an irrepressible love of his subject. The Boss deserves no less, and he could ask for no better.”
New York Times Book Review - Robin Finn
“Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ’n’ Roll endeavors to get to the heart of its subject by viewing him through the economic, social, political, religious and family turmoil that formed a musician who found out early on how to make his guitar talk but spent painful decades refining what he needed to make it say. Springsteen’s creative evolution and endurance as a populist American rock ’n’ roll hero is, according to Dolan, "a slantwise way of telling the history of our times, how we have come together and divided over the last half-century, how we have changed what we think of ourselves as a people."”
Washington Post - Tim Page
“Those who are interested in the shaping of an American icon—and, more significantly, the creation of some lasting American music—may be directed safely to this book.”
Asbury Park Press - Michael Riley
“The definitive Springsteen biography/musical analysis, finely written and meticulously researched... by an academic who can write for a popular audience.... For fans, Dolan’s book is a necessary addition to the Springsteen library. For more casual listeners, who often wonder just what the fuss is all about, this volume is a good place to start.”
Darryl Lorenzo - Christian Science Monitor
“This intelligent examination of the career of Bruce Springsteen traces the rock icon's ability to balance two disparate identities.... An intelligent fan book written by a sophisticated admirer.”
Elysa Gardner - USA Today
“[Dolan’s] approach is at once academic and unapologetically enthusiastic. Classic songs and albums are deconstructed at length, along with their back stories and reception. Springsteen's personal evolution is measured in similar depth, from his tense relationship with his working-class father to the political consciousness reflected in his work, and how it's been variously interpreted (and misconstrued).... Devotees will delight in Dolan's account of the superstar's salad days playing Jersey clubs. (3 out of 4 stars)”
Library Journal
Bruce Springsteen began his long, successful career in the late 1960s, writing songs for the masses about cars, New Jersey's boardwalks, chasing girls, and escaping from small-town America. As he has grown older, his music has become both more personal and more political (and liberal). Rather than a biography, Dolan (English, American studies, & film studies, John Jay Coll., CUNY) here presents a historical review of Springsteen's musical and political influences. Those seeking dirt on his first marriage and subsequent relationship with Patti Scialfa may be disappointed. However, Springsteen's frustrations with Presidents Reagan and the Bushes are well covered. VERDICT With 30 pages of notes and a tone characteristic of music criticism, this book may not be ideal for the casual fan. Readers seeking a more personal and biographical approach to Springsteen's life should turn to Dave Marsh's Born To Run. Dolan's book is recommended for hard-core Springsteen fans and those who have more than a passing interest in his influences and music. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11.]—Todd Spires, Bradley Univ. Lib., Peoria, IL
Kirkus Reviews
The Boss' canon receives trainspotting treatment via his concert appearances and recordings. Dolan eschews original research in this uncomfortable hybrid of biography and criticism. The rocker's life has been scrutinized in previous bios by Dave Marsh, Marc Eliot and Robert Santelli, and their work provides the structural backbone of this book. The contours of the tale will be familiar to Springsteen enthusiasts: Jersey Shore bar-band roots, early-'70s cult arrival, popular breakthrough with 1975's Born to Run, launch to superstardom with 1984's Born in the U.S.A., etc. Dolan analyzes the musician's progress primarily via close, grueling readings of Springsteen's set lists over the course of 40-plus years on stage, amply documented on bootlegs, with additional attention to the oft-protracted genesis of his albums in studio sessions and home recordings. It makes for arduous reading, and Dolan's conclusions are often suspect. While Springsteen is undoubtedly among the hardest-working live performers in rock history, and his gigs ably combine arena-rock showmanship and a carefully cultivated intimacy and sincerity, his shows and the lengthy raps that stud them only reveal so much about his internal impulses. The author goes to laborious lengths to calibrate minute differences in Springsteen's shows over the course of individual tours. He also makes a great deal of the slow development of Springsteen's political and social consciousness, but most of his divinations are based on contorted explications of his concerts and their attendant spiels. Dolan exhibits a frustrating inability to plumb Springsteen's interior emotional makeup; as in previous tomes, his short-lived marriage to Julianne Phillips and his unexpected metamorphosis into midlife family man with Patti Scialfa remain mystifying. In these pages Springsteen remains, for all his apparent openness, both personally and artistically remote, and Dolan's interpretive methodology sheds limited light.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393084214
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
1,063,615
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Marc Dolan is a professor at John Jay College and the City University of New York, where he teaches English, American studies, and film. A New Jersey native, he lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

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Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WE NEED SOME DAVID BOWIE AND STEVE PERRY!!!!!!STAT!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't know what was wrong with the other readers. Dolan's book can get a bit ponderous at the time, but I appreciated the overview of the Boss's life and work, without the second-guessing or hero worship which tends to feature heavily in Springsteen bios. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
brn2run67 More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with the other post. I have read a lot of biographies and many about Springsteen. I am an avid reader but this book just bores me to death. If I could rate it less than 1 star I would.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The others were right. About as interesting as watching bumpers rust