Best Book on Bruce


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Here's the Mellencamp story from the Gutterman book:

Mellencamp: I what I havent done I dont think I can do. I dont think that there is time in my life left. And I dont I think theres too much resistance to who I am to achieve what I thought I would be able to. The interesting thing about theres 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 didnt know this about Hoagy Carmichael, but he considered himself the poor mans Johnny Mercer. Never could get over the fact that Johnny Mercer got all the accolades, even though, you know, thats not really true. At the end of the day, you know, his songs stack up to Mercers easily. But Johnny Mercer was the guy. And Hoagy was, you know, kind of second string. Ive 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 didnt go somewhere else. And Im thinking of a specific guy. And he finally just quit making records, he was so frustrated with it.

Paulson: Whos your Johnny Mercer?

Mellencamp: Come on. Its so obvious. Im not going to answer that if you cant answer it yourself.

Paulson: [Laughs] OK.

Mellencamp: So, ah, you know, I would never Im like Hoagy Carmichael. Ill never be able to achieve what Ill 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.

I must be really tired tonight

Can someone please summarize that for me

I think ive missed the point somewhere

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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.

Bruce Springsteen and the promise of rock and roll

By Marc Dolan

Check it out on amazon as its in paperback now

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My familiarity with Petty and Mellencamp is fleeting. I have a couple of albums of each of them and saw a Petty show once and saw Mellencamp live very briefly (opening up the VFC show in DC). I think it might be hard to be in either of their shoes and not get your ego bruised by Bruce's success and legacy at some point in the '70s and '80s, and I'd barely hold that against them. I like them a little, but not too much.

Would I like them more if I didn't have Bruce to compare them too? That's hard to tell. Based on my limited exposure to them (and I don't know their more recent work at all) they both seem to be posing a little - Mellencamp seems to do a lot of huffing and puffing when he sings and there's a musical swagger to him that I've always been a little unimpressed with. Petty seems very oriented towards being as laid back and chill as possible, which sort of makes him the anti-Bruce you could argue. Now, Bob Seger seems perhaps a little more comfortable with being where he is, and as a result his music is a little more endearing to me I think.

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I'm going with the first one I ever read. A mine of glorious info to a newcomer.

Blinded By The Light.

THIS!

Glorious info is right.

My copy is quite leafed through to the point of half of the pages falling out. It had descriptions of all these bootlegs (LPs) and unreleased songs and covers that I drooled over for years in the early '90s as a teen, before I finally figured out where to find and buy bootleg CDs.

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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.

Bruce Springsteen and the promise of rock and roll

By Marc Dolan

Check it out on amazon as its in paperback now

I'm getting it now.

I just started the Carlin book....very good on Family details, especially the mental illness issues that Doug had to deal with.

I'm up to the point where Bruce get's signed to Columbia and has just met the Big Man. Love it so far.

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I've read plenty but one that stickes (and I can't remember the title or author) but the book was a bit more obsessed with Bruce's sex life. And from what I can remember, Bruce found it very hard to get laid :blink:

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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.

Agree about unfair treatment of Mike,

and Heylin's book is excellent.

But my favorite is Carlin's.

It focuses on his upbringing and what shaped him and the early part of his career magnificently.

It captures a sympathetic version of him without being afraid to show any so-called "warts"

Before this one I would have thought the unpopular Point Blank the best book.

Admittedly, the book Born To Run was my guide when I was young and first really discovering him;

so it painted the super-hero.

But it's not a good book, not an honest one.

I love Heylin for his honesty and guts even if occasionally don't agree with his opinions on certain songs.

I love his style of writing.

(Yes I have from The Velvets to the Voidoids...)

(and thought his words about Bruce in a 1993 Badlands UK [something reprinted in For True Rockers Only] was very brave, and I agreed with them.

his comments about the whole problem,

with the lack of releases and

just how Landau believes in strategy,

but rock and roll is ENERGY.

Heylin understands rock and roll FAR more than Landau ever could (even if he totally needs to reassess his opinion on the Dictators' absolutely magnificent Bloodbrothers LP)

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What erks me about any of the books is when the author starts voicing his opinion about what constitutes a great or a weak song

And lists examples of weak songs

Alot of the time it will be songs i love

I think who makes him an authority on what is good or not any more than the rest of us?

Thats when i think Fuck you buddy!! ' and i loose all respect for the author and i stop enjoying the book

I just rather the book was straight factual rather than opinion

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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.

The Heylin is one of the best, great studies in the recordings and songwriting process for each album up to Tunnel of love. Te book Point Blank is very good too, much better than the Carlin one, if you ask me.

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I found Heylin's book virtually unreadable by the point I was half way through. He seems to take delight in arrogantly second guess Bruce's every career move - he makes most spoiled fans seem almost uncritical by comparison.

Marsh's books are good for giving a social and musical context for Bruce, and they're written with passion and enthusiasm - they make for fun exciting reading. Not so great on the accuracy or subjectivity, but he tells a great story, and they definitely belong in any serious Springsteen book collection.

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I've read plenty but one that stickes (and I can't remember the title or author) but the book was a bit more obsessed with Bruce's sex life. And from what I can remember, Bruce found it very hard to get laid :blink:

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I ve just tried to post on my phone..will come back when i get home

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I've read plenty but one that stickes (and I can't remember the title or author) but the book was a bit more obsessed with Bruce's sex life. And from what I can remember, Bruce found it very hard to get laid :blink:

Well.. I'm at home--

Mark, this book looks like a fun sumertime read - can you please somehow find the title or give me some clue...

Thanks

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I like the deeper interviews. Not regular books, but a good interviewer can give a great snapshot picture of how he sees his life and his work at a specific moment. I like this one: http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2014/01/14/262485987/a-long-road-to-high-hopes-an-interview-with-bruce-springsteen

It's an NPR radio interview by the music journalist Ann Powers, and there's also a text version. He speaks a lot of what music he's listening to.

David Remnick's interview from The New Yorker, before the start of the Wrecking Ball tour is also excellent, almost like mini biography: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/07/30/we-are-alive

The interview book Talk About a Dream is also a good read.

AND-of course....his brilliant keynote speech at SXSW a few years ago: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/16/148778665/bruce-springsteens-sxsw-2012-keynote-speech

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I've read plenty but one that stickes (and I can't remember the title or author) but the book was a bit more obsessed with Bruce's sex life. And from what I can remember, Bruce found it very hard to get laid :blink:

Well.. I'm at home--

Mark, this book looks like a fun sumertime read - can you please somehow find the title or give me some clue...

Thanks

Probably the Christopher Sandford book. That's the one where Bruce gets sand kicked in his face, too.

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Hey guys, do you think June Skinner Sawyer posts here at Greasy Lake? I have her book "Tougher Than The Rest: 100 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs" and found it to be quite an entertaining read. It plays out like some of our thread discussions on The Circuit. :D

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Kay. Regarding Mellencamp, "Plain Spoken" is indeed a great record. One of his best. The thing is with Mellencamp, the guy always comes off as a bit of an arrogant jackass. Not nearly as great as he thinks he is. But again, some very good recent work.

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I've read plenty but one that stickes (and I can't remember the title or author) but the book was a bit more obsessed with Bruce's sex life. And from what I can remember, Bruce found it very hard to get laid :blink:

Well.. I'm at home--

Mark, this book looks like a fun sumertime read - can you please somehow find the title or give me some clue...

Thanks

Probably the Christopher Sandford book. That's the one where Bruce gets sand kicked in his face, too.

Thanks

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Has anyone mentioned Eric Alterman's It Ain't No Sin to Be Glad You're Alive? That's a truly great one. One of my college professors actually used it for a unit in his "U.S. Popular Music" class.

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There is something to be gained from every book on Bruce there is (I think I have them all :P, as far as available), but it is wise to remember that every author selects and interprets facts as he sees them. There is no absolute truth to be found in these books. Reading so many of them (and liking some a lot more than others) gave me a deeper understanding of Springsteen.

But I think the best knowledge comes from his songs and interviews - straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Some residue of mystery remains - as is only right. No one likes to be exposed down to the bare bones. I know I don't.

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I'm a bit more than halfway through the Clinton Heylin book and am absolutely amazed: I expected critical. Obviously, critical is fine—actually, critical is good, especially if the opinions can be backed up. But that's not what this is.

I've never before read a book that wasn't written by a comedian or openly biased political commentator that was this downright snotty. Heylin clearly dislikes Springsteen as a person and an artist and doesn't much care for the majority of his art. And I know Appel was a source for the book but it reads less like they spoke extensively and more like Heylin's Appel's official PR flack.

The point at which I literally threw my hands up in disgust came when I read this bit:

[springsteen's] churlish response was, “Spontaneity...is not made by fastness. Elvis, I believe,did like thirty takes of 'Hound Dog.'” (In fact, Presley recorded that song plus “Don't Be Cruel” and “Any Way You Want Me” in just two three hour sessions.)

First of all: "churlish"? Really?

Secondly, yes, Elvis may indeed have recorded all three of those songs in six hours. But together those three songs total just six and a half minutes. And more to the point, Springsteen was simply correct: Elvis made the band do 31 takes of "Hound Dog"...and another 28 of "Don't Be Cruel," as well as 12 for "Any Way You Want Me." So Heylin was either wrong on the facts where Springsteen was right, or Heylin knew the facts and did his best to obfuscate.

For all the stick Dave Marsh has gotten for his hagiographies, Heylin isn't just a counterbalance; in my opinion, he's tipped even further in the other direction.

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Give me criticism over hyperbole any day of the week.

Clinton Heylin's book is not the best - largely because, imo the early part of Bruce's career has a) been done to death and B) is largely tedious. Does anyone really care about Steel Mill and how Greetings was made? But equally, it's far from the worst (i.e. anything involving the freakish Dave Marsh).

There are very few good Springsteen books - June Skinner Sawyers' Racing in the Street is my favourite.

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