Monday, November 5, 2012

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

There was much anticipation about this book, much buzz about just how much exactly Carlin would  tell about the life of the man who can only be described as The Poet Laureate of Rock N Roll.
It is my pleasure to tell you that Carlin has done a very fine job indeed and except for one sluggish interlude, this book fairly zips along with the tale of a man who rose from very troubled and humble beginnings to the highest heights, a man whose music will live on long after he is gone, a man whose songs have brought joy and shared in pain, loss and desolation with those who listen to them.
The book is full of the tales you wanted to hear or perhaps not, it is never mawkish, the author does appear to like his subject and yet never surrenders his authorial power. There is almost no input from Springsteen`s wife but there is plenty from other family members including his sisters, mother, aunts, cousins and long time friends and associates, none who attempt to curry favour by being overly generous, in other words these pages carry the truth, not always pretty but the truth none the less. Springsteen`s first marriage is examined but without the depth that perhaps this chapter would have had, had Julianne Phillips spoken more freely, she chose not to and that is simply her right, which Springsteen respected.
Springsteen`s rise is well documented and fair acknowledgement given to those who helped him, his early years and the dislocation he felt are particularly well handled as are the struggles that fame and fortune brought. Equally his many kindnesses and generosity are also laid out, it would be a very cold hearted person who didn`t recognise the golden heart that Springsteen has.
Does Carlin suggest his subject is perfect? No he does not, the portrait painted is well rounded and none of Springsteen`s less elegant behaviours are over looked although his alleged womanising is not spoken of, perhaps Carlin though that to do so would throw a tabloidy glare on his work or perhaps he felt the stories weren`t worth repeating.
At 63 Bruce Springsteen can be well pleased with the bounty that his hard work has brought, his children in particular must bring him great joy, as must the fact that so many peoples lives have been uplifted by his music including mine, it would be fair to say he has helped this 35 year plus fan out in many a tight spot!
Carlin`s work is by far the best of the Springsteen books of late exceeded only in my opinion by Christopher Sandford`s 'Point Blank' which in my humble opinion is still above the rest and which receives no mention. The only other thing I found strange is that while Carlin makes plenty of mention of Springsteen handing off on songs he did not want to use, he makes no mention of Patti Smith`s wonderful version of 'Because the Night' other than to acknowledge that Springsteen wrote it and handed it off, Smith`s version is a classic for the ages and really I can`t imagine why she wasn`t mentioned at all.
A great read which will most likely stand the test of time but will not be the last word on Springsteen, even if it remains the only book written with The Bosses co-operation.

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