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Greasers and Rah-Rahs

John Lahr: Bruce Springsteen’s Memoir, 2 February 2017

Born to Run 
by Bruce Springsteen.
Simon and Schuster, 510 pp., £20, September 2016, 978 1 4711 5779 0
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... OK,​ there are some things Bruce Springsteen and I don’t share. I haven’t sold 120 million albums; my net worth isn’t calculated by Forbes and, in any case, hasn’t yet reached $345 million; I haven’t rocked the planet for forty years; and Ex-President Obama has not hung the Medal of Freedom around my neck and said in my presence: ‘I’m the president, but he’s “the Boss” ...


Danny Karlin: The Boss at Wembley, 1 August 1985

... seventy thousand other persons, is hard to pull off, and hard to take whether pulled off or not. Bruce Springsteen, however, managed not to sound nauseatingly heartfelt. His voice lacks pretension, disclaims rhetoric and self-regard; he is, apparently, without design. The first of these moments of booming meditation was an introduction to ‘My ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford, 12 May 1994

The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... few connections between the work of his eclectically chosen band of artists – who range from Bruce Springsteen to Alice Walker, George Lucas to Louise Glück – and the specific linguistic, narrative, or political problems posed by Vietnam. For such as Bruce Springsteen the most immediate issue was the ...

In the Land of the Free

Christian Lorentzen, 22 November 2012

... Obama’s biggest booster. This got him a hug from the local hero who’d always ignored him, Bruce Springsteen. A dream fulfilled, and Obama’s most fulsome bipartisan success. He’s unlikely to be able to arrange hugs between Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner, Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad, or Bashar al-Assad and anybody. This month Obama ...

You know who

Jasper Rees, 4 August 1994

Jim Henson – The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination 
by Christopher Finch.
Aurum, 251 pp., £20, April 1994, 1 85410 296 6
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... Kermit is probably the only frog to have posed for both a formal Gainsborough portrait and a Bruce Springsteen album cover. With the arguable exception of The Perfumed Garden and one or two of the larger paint catalogues, this is probably the most colourful book ever published. Why? It doesn’t seem to be exclusively aimed at children. Henson was a ...


Pat Rogers, 3 June 1982

The Samurai 
by Shusaku Endo, translated by Van C. Gessel.
Peter Owen, 272 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 7206 0559 8
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The Obedient Wife 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 230 pp., £7.50, May 1982, 9780713914672
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by Jerzy Kosinski.
Joseph, 287 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 7181 2133 3
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Brother of the More Famous Jack 
by Barbara Trapido.
Gollancz, 218 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 575 03112 3
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... of all his rock ’n’ roll predecessors – Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen – as well as what’s best in funk, soul, reggae – and, of course, the influence of such master saloon singers as Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett. In Goddard’s music you can hear the whole vocabulary of Karlheinz Stockhausen and ...

Saint Agnes’s Lament

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Shuggie Bain’, 3 December 2020

Shuggie Bain 
by Douglas Stuart.
Picador, 448 pp., £14.99, August, 978 1 5290 1927 8
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... wants to get married, Leek wants to go to art school – they sound a bit like characters in a Bruce Springsteen song or a young adult novel. It wouldn’t be right to describe Shuggie Bain as a book for children, as the critic Jessa Crispin recently said of Sally Rooney’s Normal People and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. But ...

Ghosts in the Machine

Michael Dibdin, 5 February 1987

Slaves of New York 
by Tama Janowitz.
Picador, 278 pp., £3.50, January 1987, 0 330 29753 8
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... like top form, while the rest range from slight jests (‘You and the Boss’, a swipe at the Bruce Springsteen myth) through stylised anecdotes (the two ‘Case Histories’) to a fable about a symbiotic relationship (‘Kurt and Natasha’). While there is much to admire here, the tone is often tiresomely arch and there is a sense of arbitrariness ...

Trump: Some Numbers

R.W. Johnson, 3 November 2016

... of celebrities at Hillary Clinton’s rallies – Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Springsteen etc. The French use the expression ‘la richesse insultante’. What does it mean for someone on social security to walk past shops with watches or shoes or dresses marked in the thousands of dollars? Each price ticket says: ‘You’re ...

Ways to Be Pretentious

Ian Penman, 5 May 2016

M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... seventy this year, has had just one hit single (‘Because the Night’ in 1978, co-written with Bruce Springsteen) in forty years, and the only one of her 11 albums with an unassailable reputation is her glorious debut, Horses. I’ve known many people who dearly love Horses, but I can’t recall a single person ever declaring a passion for any of the ...

Captain Swing

Eric Hobsbawm, 24 November 1994

The Duke Ellington Reader 
edited by Mark Tucker.
Oxford, 536 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 19 505410 5
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Swing Changes: Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America 
by David Stowe.
Harvard, 299 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 0 674 85825 5
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... a fallow period, he returned to discovering and promoting talent – Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen – but unlike the history of jazz in the Thirties, that of popular music since rock hardly needs to refer to him. The old lefties, out-of-sorts with bebop, concentrated on what for most of them had always been the music of their ...

Hard Beats and Spacey Bleeps

Dave Haslam, 23 September 1993

Will Pop Eat Itself? Pop Music in the Soundbite Era 
by Jeremy J. Beadle.
Faber, 269 pp., £7.99, June 1993, 9780571162413
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Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture 
edited by Anthony DeCurtis.
Duke, 317 pp., £11.95, October 1992, 0 8223 1265 4
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... sampler. Thus DeCurtis, in a summary of pop music as it goes into the Nineties, comments: ‘Bruce Springsteen, U2 and REM played an essential role in preserving the human element of rock & roll at a time when technology threatened to overwhelm flesh and blood.’ Rock critics love this loaded terminology. Nik Cohn has described the Sex Pistols in ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder, 17 April 1986

Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... the characters spend much of their time playing video games, watching TV reruns and listening to Bruce Springsteen. Nevertheless, this is a genuine rural novel, concerned with characters disinherited from, and trying to come back into connection with, the American land: both senses of ‘land’ are intended here. Mason is not a word-spinner or virtuoso ...

Rudy Then and Rudy Now

James Wolcott, 16 February 2023

Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor 
by Andrew Kirtzman.
Simon and Schuster, 458 pp., £20, September 2022, 978 1 9821 5329 8
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... The former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who fancied himself a Tony Soprano boss with a Bruce Springsteen soul, endured fat jokes on stage from Trump, hardly a ballerina himself. The activation of Lindsey Graham’s salivary glands whenever he rises up on his hind legs in defence of Trump and the MAGA agenda is a source of negative wonder. It ...

Think outside the bun

Colin Burrow: Quote Me!, 8 September 2022

The New Yale Book of Quotations 
edited by Fred R. Shapiro.
Yale, 1136 pp., £35, October 2021, 978 0 300 20597 8
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... scandalously omitted from both the Yale and Oxford collections, and often wrongly attributed to Bruce Forsyth) for individual contributors, and what do they tell us about what’s now thought of as a ‘quotation’? Might they even cast light on the cultural biases of the Yale Book?The scores reveal implied value judgments aplenty. Don’t buy shares in ...

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