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Born to Run (memoir)

Bruce Springsteen has come a long way since the youthful Boss searched his New Jersey neighbors’ garbage for broken radios his grandfather could fix and sell. But for a man born to run, he has stumbled plenty, as the “Born in the U.S.A.” star makes clear in this autobiography. Springsteen recalls that he actually returned his first, rented guitar because playing it was “TOO F—IN’ HARD!” Years later, after Springsteen’s lengthy apprenticeship in local rock clubs led to a deal with CBS, poor album sales caused the label to lose faith in him and the still-nascent E Street Band. “[The label] thought we were just going to go away, return to our day jobs, go back to school, disappear into the swamps of Jersey,” writes the singer. “They didn’t realize they were dealing with men without homes, lives, any practicable skills or talents that would bring in a reliable paycheck in the straight world. We had nowhere to go…and we loved music!”

That love bore commercial fruit with 1975’s Born to Run, and then — after a lengthy, career-stalling legal battle with his ex-manager — an entire orchard with 1984’s Born in the U.S.A. While tales of his subsequent professional life can be less vibrant than those depicting his early struggles, Springsteen’s prose comes alive whenever he writes about his relationships with loved ones, including late sax player Clarence Clemons, and his mentally troubled father, who would ultimately be diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. But Springsteen is at his most revealing when he talks about his relationship with depression, a disease he calls “the prize in the Cracker Jack box in our family,” and which he attempts to keep at bay with therapy and prescription meds. The result is both an entertaining account of Springsteen’s marathon race to the top and a reminder that the one thing you can’t run away from is yourself. B+

Born to Run (memoir)
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