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Buddhabone

Best Book on Bruce

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Hi all,

I read Dave Marsh's books a long time ago...

What books would you recommend reading on Bruce?

I have the Peter Ames Carlin and Clinton Heylin's laying around but have not read them.

Let me know what you guys think.

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Hi all,

I read Dave Marsh's books a long time ago...

What books would you recommend reading on Bruce?

I have the Peter Ames Carlin and Clinton Heylin's laying around but have not read them.

Let me know what you guys think.

The Carlin book is worth reading. And although not strictly a Bruce book Big Man is also worth a read.

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The Carlin book is very good, as is the one by Marc Dolan that came out around he same time. The Carlin book is unique in that it very much focuses on Bruce himself in an intelligent way. If you are looking for a book about his music other books may be better. I still appreciate the Marsh books for what they are - and if you don't mind a few factual mistakes check out Marsh's book on Bruce's live career.

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Down Thunder Road (Eliot / Appel) and Point Blank (Sandford) give you the flipside to 'Bruce The Demi God.'

As we've discussed many times, Marsh's books are too sycophantic. He also treats Mike Appel very unfairly, which is pretty unforgiveable.

My favourite, though, is the Clinton Heylin one. It leaves 'the man' out of it essentially, and just focuses on 'the artist' and his bodyof work.

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As additions:

The Backstreets book (or both, as there are really differences between 1st and 2nd edition).

The Rolling Stone Files, with everything the RS magazine ever published about Bruce until 1995 (last article is the review of The Ghost Of Tom Joad.)

The Dave Marsh coffee-table book Bruce Springsteen On Tour 1968-2005.

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I don't really care for any of the books, because none of them really give you a true measure of the man. The Marsh ones are sycophantic, but the ones by Carlin and Heylin only seem to be researched thoroughly up to the firing of the ESB. After that, the information is scattershot. No one really close to Bruce talks much, due to confidentiality clauses and/or friendships, and so you're pretty much stuck with the vision of Bruce that he wants to put forth.

Since we'll never break through that barrier, I'd like to see the research put into his recording sessions, sort of what Heylin did with Bob Dylan. SOMEBODY needs to be given access to Bruce's studio recording logs, as well as access to the musicians themselves, before they all start dying off. I'd hate to see Marsh put in charge of such a project, but I'm sure that he'd be the appointed writer. If they're looking for volunteers to assist with the project, I'm all in.

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Half of the Bruce book is good the back half is rushed and just skims the surface........

There is a book of interviews called Springsteen on Springsteen that quotes the man straight frim his mouth

I also enjoyed one i cant remember who wrote it or its exact title but something like Bruce Springsteen and the something or other of rock and roll

That came out before the Bruce book and focuses on musical influences

I will look it out when i get home

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I was very impressed with the Dolan book. Carlin's was amazingly detailed for the first half or so of Springsteen's life, but I was actually most interested in the post-1984 stuff, and for whatever reason (possibly logistical reasons--maybe the book simply would have become unwieldy to print), it wasn't nearly as detailed after that point.

You didn't specify biography, so let me say that I loved Jimmy Guterman's Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen and Jim Cullen's Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition. It's been years since I read the Cullen, so I can't actually remember exactly why I liked it so much, but I did. I do remember several specific reasons I loved the Guterman, such as the fact that it open with a few stories confirming something I'd always suspected, which is that John Mellencamp and Tom Petty, among others, resent Springsteen's success. Also, Guterman wrote maybe my single favorite line ever about "Rosalita": "You'd end your shows with it too if you had thought of it."

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That's why I like the Carlin book. It goes into detail on he part that interests me. The current events stuff in this internet age of nonstop info is out there anyway.

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The real hole to be filled is a book that covers his life and his music post BitUSA in detail. We may have to wait some time for that book, but maybe that's OK too. At least since the mid '80s he's been far more talkative and much more eloquent and interesting when it comes to interviews. We may put the precious '70s on a pedestal of sorts, but back then he could barely string a coherent sentence together offtstage. That early video footage of him, he looks so nervous and self conscious.

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I agree about the Peter Carlin book in that it was a very good in depth read until the modern era but then it suddenly felt rushed . I would love to read a book that concentrated accurately on the modern era

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I do remember several specific reasons I loved the Guterman, such as the fact that it open with a few stories confirming something I'd always suspected, which is that John Mellencamp and Tom Petty, among others, resent Springsteen's success.

Call me naive but this sorta surprises me about Mellencamp and Petty, more so Petty. Guess I can see with Mellencamp more when he was much younger, perhaps more reactionary and trying to get to the top while being labeled a "poor man's Springsteen" or some dumb thing.

My favorite book is Glory Days, one of which I return to it time and time again as I always pick something up I hadn't before. His "sycophancy" doesn't concern me, I find his writing style extremely accessible and that's what I care about.

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I do remember several specific reasons I loved the Guterman, such as the fact that it open with a few stories confirming something I'd always suspected, which is that John Mellencamp and Tom Petty, among others, resent Springsteen's success.

Call me naive but this sorta surprises me about Mellencamp and Petty, more so Petty. Guess I can see with Mellencamp more when he was much younger, perhaps more reactionary and trying to get to the top while being labeled a "poor man's Springsteen" or some dumb thing.

To be fair, the Petty anecdote is from pretty early on--it's at the No Nukes show--whereas the Mellencamp one is from quite a bit more recently. (Although before he performed "Born in the USA" at the Kennedy Center Honors.)

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I just watched a fairly recent interview with him conducted by Jann Wenner of RS and most things he said during that seem to contradict any resent he might have. He didn't mention Bruce of course but talked about he never cared about applause, among other things that come with success. He did say however that early career his focus was to write songs that would get on the radio, which they sure did. At least he said he'll never reach his full potential as a singer (or a painter) so his goal now at 63 is to write better songs than he has before.

His last few records have shown he's been succeeding. Cannot believe how good Plain Spoken is.

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I remember an interview that petty gave in around about 85/86, and he was not so much resentful, more kind of aloof. He seemed to be arguing that he was a different kind of songwriter, more experimental and refined in his approach to creativity. He kind of followed the standard "Bruce is a meat and potatoes sort of writer" bollocks that was quite peeve land at the time. (Understandable as Bruce had created an image of himself as "ordinary guy" at that point, that was pretty convincing.

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I just love that all three of the old fuckers (among many other older acts) are still putting out mostly fantastic records.

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Ive never heard a Mellonhead song all the way through. I like Petty a lot though.

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Oh my gawd. This is one of his best and it's recent. You had better have a listen and listen all the way through:

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I was very impressed with the Dolan book. Carlin's was amazingly detailed for the first half or so of Springsteen's life, but I was actually most interested in the post-1984 stuff, and for whatever reason (possibly logistical reasons--maybe the book simply would have become unwieldy to print), it wasn't nearly as detailed after that point.

You didn't specify biography, so let me say that I loved Jimmy Guterman's Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen and Jim Cullen's Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition. It's been years since I read the Cullen, so I can't actually remember exactly why I liked it so much, but I did. I do remember several specific reasons I loved the Guterman, such as the fact that it open with a few stories confirming something I'd always suspected, which is that John Mellencamp and Tom Petty, among others, resent Springsteen's success. Also, Guterman wrote maybe my single favorite line ever about "Rosalita": "You'd end your shows with it too if you had thought of it."

Love that rosealita story

Wish some of my workmates would find the humour in it but it would go over their heads

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Here's the Mellencamp story from the Gutterman book:

Mellencamp: I — what I haven’t done I don’t think I can do. I don’t think that there is time in my life left. And I don’t — I think there’s too much resistance to who I am to achieve what I thought I would be able to. The interesting thing about — there’s a song on the new record about — song called “Baltimore Oriole” that was written, in my mind, here in Bloomington, Indiana, by a guy from Bloomington, Indiana, a guy named Hoagy Carmichael. I didn’t know this about Hoagy Carmichael, but he considered himself the poor man’s Johnny Mercer. Never could get over the fact that Johnny Mercer got all the accolades, even though, you know, that’s not really true. At the end of the day, you know, his songs stack up to Mercer’s easily. But Johnny Mercer was the guy. And Hoagy was, you know, kind of second string. I’ve always had that on my back. And so when I found out about Hoagy Carmichael, I was just like, “Well, yeah.” You know, I look — I know other artists who feel that way. And a lot of us live here. You know, we stayed true to something. We didn’t go somewhere else. And I’m thinking of a specific guy. And he finally just quit making records, he was so frustrated with it.

Paulson: Who’s your Johnny Mercer?

Mellencamp: Come on. It’s so obvious. I’m not going to answer that if you can’t answer it yourself.

Paulson: [Laughs] OK.

Mellencamp: So, ah, you know, I would never — I’m like Hoagy Carmichael. I’ll never be able to achieve what — I’ll never be able to — how would somebody who was eloquent say that? I will never be able to see my star rise the way that I always thought it should have. Not gonna happen. So I have to accept it.

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That's a bit of a strange thing for him to say Scott, that he will never be able to see his star rise the way he always thought it should have. He was huge for a while.

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Yeah, but there's huge and then there's huge. There's Scottie Pippin huge and then there's Michael Jordan huge, Clive Barker huge versus Stephen King huge. According to the oh so reliable (that's snark, FYI) RIAA, Bruce Springsteen has sold 64.5 million records. John Mellencamp has sold 27.5 million. Obviously, all but a few dozen artists in history would LOVE to have Mellencamp's level of sales...but it's still still only a bit more than 40% of Springsteen's. If Mellencamp thinks he's as good or better than Bruce? It's understandable how that would sting more than a bit.

I mean, don't get me wrong—I dearly wish I had Mellencamp's talent or success. But it's that drive, that hunger, that led him to the level of success he had, and which keeps him from being satisfied with that same level of success.

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I just love that all three of the old fuckers (among many other older acts) are still putting out mostly fantastic records.

I've seen and read enough to satisfy me that competitive edge aside, the people I would consider some of the great American songwriters/performers of that era (Springsteen, Mellencamp, Petty, Seger) all know, like and respect each other. I've watched Mellencamp talk about how he considered himself the youngster in the crowd, looking up to guys like Bruce. In the 2006 Petty documentary Tom says something to the effect of 'I know all those guys and we are all buddies'

And yes Kay, the albums John has made lately are without doubt some of the best of his career. Life, Death, Love And Freedom from 2008 is one of my all time favourite records. And for those of you who haven't heard Petty's Mojo album from 2010, do yourselves a favour...

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