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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 BruceSpringsteen 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 ...

Diary

Danny Karlin: The Boss at Wembley

1 August 1985
... there if you listened with eyes closed. Personal sincerity, electronically amplified and directed at seventy thousand other persons, is hard to pull off, and hard to take whether pulled off or not. BruceSpringsteen, 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 ...

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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... a mostly submerged history that cruises through our dreams’. Oddly though, he in the end makes very few connections between the work of his eclectically chosen band of artists – who range from BruceSpringsteen to Alice Walker, George Lucas to Louise Glück – and the specific linguistic, narrative, or political problems posed by Vietnam. For such as BruceSpringsteen the most immediate issue ...

In the Land of the Free

Christian Lorentzen

22 November 2012
... the union-busting governor of New Jersey and keynote speaker at the Republican Convention, became Obama’s biggest booster. This got him a hug from the local hero who’d always ignored him, BruceSpringsteen. 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 ...

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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... of Froggo Amphibini and Giopiggi Porculini, an inferior version of which is in the National Gallery. Kermit is probably the only frog to have posed for both a formal Gainsborough portrait and a BruceSpringsteen 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 ...
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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... Only in two of the others, ‘Snowball’ and ‘The New Acquaintances’, is the author on something like top form, while the rest range from slight jests (‘You and the Boss’, a swipe at the BruceSpringsteen 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 ...

Ambassadors

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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Pinball 
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 mood and emotion.’ Analysis: ‘Musically and in terms of lyrics, Goddard is the culmination of all his rock ’n’ roll predecessors – Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Elton John, BruceSpringsteen – 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 ...
14 November 2016
... pensioners eking out a few more dollars. Such people were unlikely to be impressed by the parade of celebrities at Hillary Clinton’s rallies – Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, BruceSpringsteen 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 ...
4 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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... trance-inducing music. Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe in 1974 Smith (née Smith), who turns seventy this year, has had just one hit single (‘Because the Night’ in 1978, co-written with BruceSpringsteen) 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 ...

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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Caracole 
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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... in the late 1850s. Bobbie Ann Mason’s In Country portrays a strictly contemporary America in which the characters spend much of their time playing video games, watching TV reruns and listening to BruceSpringsteen. 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 ...

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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... large public; was, indeed, designed to antagonise it. Hammond did not like the new avant garde. After a fallow period, he returned to discovering and promoting talent – Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, BruceSpringsteen – 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 ...
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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... generation, however, the electric guitar is a more authentic instrument of human expression than a digital sampler. Thus DeCurtis, in a summary of pop music as it goes into the Nineties, comments: ‘BruceSpringsteen, 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bob Dylan’s Tall Tales

21 October 2004
... Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit (Miramax, $23.95), wrested political access to pop culture from the Democrats. Reagan overstepped the mark in 1984, however, when he tried to appropriate BruceSpringsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ as the anthem of his re-election campaign, having failed to pay attention either to the song’s lyrics (which are kind of ironic) or to the general thrust of ...

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