Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen

Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen

by Jimmy Guterman
     
 

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Over the course of a career now in its fourth decade, Bruce Springsteen has earned one of the most passionate, devoted followings in all rock ’n’ roll. He’s selling more records and concert tickets in his fifties than he sold in his twenties. Yet to many fans he remains an enigma. How has Springsteen produced such a consistent body of work and

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Overview

Over the course of a career now in its fourth decade, Bruce Springsteen has earned one of the most passionate, devoted followings in all rock ’n’ roll. He’s selling more records and concert tickets in his fifties than he sold in his twenties. Yet to many fans he remains an enigma. How has Springsteen produced such a consistent body of work and retained his currency while other top rock ’n’ rollers have gone by the wayside? Jimmy Guterman, an accessible and entertaining music writer, has been writing about Springsteen since the late 1970s. In Runaway American Dream, he delves deep into dramatic and crucial moments from every phase of Springsteen’s career, interpreting the songs and incisively commenting on the man and the culture at large to deliver a nuanced portrait of The Boss from the earliest days right up to Springsteen’s 2005 album, Devils & Dust.

Editorial Reviews

Newsday 7/25/05
"Guterman is comfortably colloquial, and he's done his research; it's refreshing."
A. O. Scott
Guterman, whose other books include The Worst Rock 'n' Roll Records of All Time, makes some interesting and occasionally counterintuitive judgments about Springsteen's records, but his greatest knack is for using particular shows and tours to set up wide-ranging excursions into musical history. His perspective -- the one on which rock criticism was founded in the late 1960's -- is that of the smart guy in the audience, plucking ideas and emotions out of the stream of familiar songs and wondering what, beyond the price of the ticket, it all amounts to.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Now in his 50s, the Boss, aka Bruce Springsteen, is selling more records and concert tickets than he did in his 20s-proving his fans' admiration runs deep. Editor and journalist Guterman (coauthor of The Worst Rock-and-Roll Records of All Time) poignantly expresses his own love of the man and his music in this warm, absorbing collection of seven essays. He takes readers through a song-by-song analysis of Springsteen recordings and concerts going back to the 1970s. He weighs the relative merits of song selection, concert length and venue, and duly notes the comings and goings of various band mates, wives and girlfriends. Yet for all his admiration, Guterman doesn't get lost in minutiae or mired in nostalgia. He chattily discusses such topics as the shift in Springsteen's music starting with Born to Run, as it became more traditional, mainstream "white rock'n'roll"; and Springsteen's uneasy back-and-forth between "pure artistic statements" like Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad and more "frankly commercial enterprises" like Born in the U.S.A. With subtle wit, real emotion and exactly the right combination of journalistic street smarts and music fan geekiness, Guterman has scored a success. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
With a new album and tour, Bruce Springsteen is once again in the news, so the time is ripe for this analysis of the Boss's oeuvre, from his debut, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., through The Rising (2002). (The recently released Devils & Dust receives only brief coverage in the introduction.) Music writer Guterman (The Worst Rock-and-Roll Records of All Time) focuses squarely on the music, but he's no theorist-he never mentions so much as a key change or a chord progression. While generally enamored of the Boss, he does not refrain from dishing out criticism when deserved. Fans will delight in proudly noting when they are in synch with Guterman and when they aren't, finding that their arguments are every bit as sturdy. Guterman doesn't want to teach readers about Springsteen's music; he wants to engage them in a conversation about it. Sadly, the book's appeal may be limited to readers who are over 35 and already fans. Recommended for larger popular music collections and where there is demand for Springsteen titles. See also Dave Marsh's Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts and Racing in the Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader, edited by June Skinner Sawyers.-Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306813979
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
06/13/2005
Pages:
246
Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.68(d)

Meet the Author

Jimmy Guterman is the author of five books about rock ’n’ roll, among them 12 Days on the Road, Rockin’ My Life Away, and the inexplicably best-selling The Worst Rock ’n’ Roll Records of All Time. He has written for Rolling Stone, Esquire, The Boston Globe, Wired, and Salon. Born and raised in New Jersey, he lives in Massachusetts.

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