Too often rock biographies seek to canonize their subjects, offering up for consecration the revelatory details of sexual conquests, pharmacological overindulgences, and distended egos. In an art awash with tragic figures and truncated careers, perhaps the story of a musician possessed of an integrity matched only by his commitment to craft is the exception that belies the rule. Bruce, Peter Ames Carlin's third work about one of rock 'n' roll's elite (after books on Paul McCartney and the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson), chronicles the life and career of Bruce Springsteen, an artist for whom the excesses of superstardom proved to be of little appeal.
With unrestrained (and unprecedented) access to those closest to Springsteen, including his immediate family, friends, bandmates, and producers alike, Carlin reveals a man whose often contradictory nature helped shape and define not only his professional life but his personal one as well. While not an authorized biography (in the sense that editorial control was wielded from afar), Bruce was written with the blessing of Springsteen himself — having granted Carlin hours of interviews ("[He] made it clear that the only thing I owed him was an honest account of his life."). Equitable and impartial, Bruce provides just that: the most candid and complete glimpse into the rocker's past and present that has yet been published. As one of the more enigmatic figures in American music, discerning the man from the myth was likely no small task.
Beginning with his frequently tumultuous family life growing up in the blue-collar neighborhoods of Monmouth County, New Jersey, Bruce traces the trajectory of Springsteen's formative years as a youngster in awe of Elvis Presley to a guitar-laden loner with a preternatural devotion to his instrument of choice. Working chronologically from his early work with shore-based bands and his first recording contract in 1972, Carlin paints the portrait of a passionate performer intent on making it big. Covering all 17 studio albums — from his debut, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (recorded some 40 years ago) to 2012's acclaimed Wrecking Ball — Bruce recalls, in detail, the significant recording sessions, concerts, tours, personnel changes, and inevitable conflicts that have marked his four decades with the inimitable E Street Band.
The complexity of Springsteen's paradoxical character is well-conveyed, as are the personal struggles he endured to attain the pinnacles of fame and commercial success. Carlin's shrewd observations of Springsteen as a man often in conflict with his own opposing internal forces (the need for privacy versus the desire for notoriety) allow for the impression of an imperfect yet honorable individual. Carlin's Bruce is the earnest, compelling biography of a man who often exemplifies the better traits of those he's spent nearly a half century singing about: empathy, compassion, dedication, and a dissatisfaction with the status quo. While many a biography has been written about Springsteen, Bruce will likely serve as the most definitive — unless, of course, the Boss himself were to turn his gifted pen from composing songs to writing memoir. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The first in twenty-five years to be written with the cooperation of Bruce Springsteen himself. With unfettered access to the artist, his family, and band members including Clarence Clemons in his last major interview, acclaimed music writer Peter Ames Carlin presents a startlingly intimate and vivid portrait of a rock icon.
For more than four decades, Bruce Springsteen has reflected the heart and soul of America with a career that includes twenty Grammy Awards, more than 120 million albums sold, two Golden Globes, and an Academy Award. Peter Ames Carlin masterfully encompasses the breadth of Springsteen's astonishing career and explores the inner workings of a man who managed to redefine generations of music.
A must for fans, Bruce is a meticulously researched, compulsively readable biography of a man laden with family tragedy, a tremendous dedication to his artistry, and an all-consuming passion for fame and influence.
"Bruce delivers....Carlin gets across why Mr. Springsteen has meant so much, for so long, to so many people."
New York Times
"Do we need another Springsteen biography? The answer, here, is yes, thanks in large part to Carlin's tireless reporting, which helps straighten out some of the lore-laden stories of Springsteen's early years in New Jersey, and further illuminates his later struggles with depression."
"An epic look at the man and his music."
"Interviews with bandmates, family members, and exes paint an unflinching portrait of the rock icon....Dives into Springsteen's personal life in unprecedented depth....No previous biographer has uncovered as much about Springsteen's family."
"An unusually intimate portrait."
The New York Times
bestselling biography of Bruce Springsteen is an "exhaustively researched portrait of rock and roll's working-class hero that delivers everything a fan could wish for" (People
This sweeping biography of one of America's greatest musicians is the first in twenty-five years to be written with the cooperation of Bruce Springsteen himself. With unfettered access to the artist, his family, and band members -- including Clarence Clemons in his last major interview -- acclaimed music writer Peter Ames Carlin presents a startlingly intimate and vivid portrait of a rock icon.
About the Author
Peter Ames Carlin has been a senior writer for <><>, a TV critic for The Oregonian newspaper, and is the author of Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys: Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney: A Life. Carlin lives with his wife and three children in Portland, Oregon. Visit PeterAmesCarlin.com.