The Boss’s autobiography lets us in to his most private experiences.
One Saturday afternoon in the early 1980s, I was home visiting my mother who lived in a small two-bedroom apartment in the wealthy community of Rumson, New Jersey. I was in my early 30s. I was walking down Bellevue Avenue, admiring the gorgeous and stately homes partially hidden behind walls and high hedges, and as I reached Ridge Road, I stopped in front of one of these mansions. I knew it belonged to my high school musical hero, Bruce Springsteen. No, unlike what Springsteen admits doing at Graceland, I did not climb the wall and try to meet my hero. I just remember looking with a longing, a nostalgic ache, desiring something I couldn’t articulate. I guess I wished I could go inside, see Bruce in his “natural state,” hang out, get close to him, or be a fly on the wall, observing what mattered to him.
It’s a bit embarrassing now to admit to being such an adoring fan; somehow, it doesn’t sit so well with my more cynical and dignified adult identity. Still, even when I first heard him and his band, Steel Mill, playing on the Jersey Shore in the late 1960s, I wanted to get to know him. Even then, Springsteen had that effect on his fans. As a performer, he gives until he drops, exhausted—and so do his fans, feeling that we have just been transported to a better place. We want to get closer to the source of that experience and visit that place again.
What a delight then, it was, to read Bruce Springsteen’s new autobiography, Born to Run. He lets readers in and shows them so much more than his home. He shares his most private experiences with an astounding candor and psychological-mindedness, beginning with accounts of his earliest childhood in Freehold, New Jersey, all the while meticulously tracking his long (and meteoric) public journey to the very top of the rock ‘n’ roll world and popular culture.