News / Arts & Entertainment

'Bruce' Reveals How Springsteen's Past Shaped his Art

Musician Bruce Springsteen stands on stage at the Stand Up for Heroes event at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 7, 2013, in New York.
Musician Bruce Springsteen stands on stage at the Stand Up for Heroes event at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 7, 2013, in New York.
Richard Paul
There have been many books written about Bruce Springsteen since he first became a sensation in 1975.  But there’s something unusual about the new book “Bruce” by Peter Ames Carlin.  Unlike the others, Carlin wrote his book with The Boss’s cooperation.

“He and his family really opened up - I mean - besides Bruce, he opened the door to his mom and his sisters and his cousins and aunts,” he said.

'Bruce' Reveals How Springsteen's Past Shaped his Art
'Bruce' Reveals How Springsteen's Past Shaped his Arti
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

​That access gives readers a brand-new look at the demons that haunted and drove Springsteen - and new insight into how those struggles touched his life and shaped his art.  Most important, Carlin says, are revelations about the psychiatric problems that plagued Springsteen’s father, Douglas.  For example, Carlin says, there’s a reason for all the discord and anger in songs such as “Adam Raised a Cain.”

"A lot of that goes back to how chaotic his family was, as a result of his father," he said. "But the fact that they were really a hop skip and a jump from the poverty line for most of his childhood - that also informs his sociocultural perspective. His perspective on society and politics is about protecting the people who are the most disenfranchised, because that's how he felt - entirely disenfranchised, both from his father and from the society around him.”

x
Of course the book’s not all psycho-drama.  Carlin was also able to pull together and then confirm some classic stories from Springsteen’s life.  Like the night 19-year-old Bruce waited backstage at a Janis Joplin concert in New Jersey trying to arrange a date with the singer.

“She came on stage and caught a glance at Bruce and all of her lights seemed to ignite. And by the end of the show, she was - Bruce sort of noticed her ardor and blew out the door as fast as he could and took off into the night because I think he sensed that, at 19 years old, he could not handle the tornado of Janis Joplin,” Carlin said.

Carlin also reveals that shortly after “Born To Run” made Springsteen’s band the biggest act in rock, “They were bankrupt. They were more bankrupt than they were before,” Carlin said.

Springsteen was suing his manager at the time.  The lawsuit sapped his creative energy and drained all his finances.  During those days, Springsteen, the international rock star would stand in line outside the club he used to play at on New Jersey’s Atlantic Shore.

“At the Stone Pony, he would just line up with everybody else," Carlin said. "And the owner of the club told me that he saw Bruce at the end of the line sort of digging into his pockets for change so he can make the $2 cover charge.”

Carlin also got Springsteen to explain why, for so many years after he became famous, he refused to write songs with mass, popular appeal.

“He thought, ‘You know, enough of that.’ He didn't want to get into that trap like Michael Jackson fell into of even after you have created this huge, smash that is magnitudes bigger than anything you have done before, he didn't want to get stuck in the groove of trying to re-create that, or be bigger and better the next time out,” he said.

Carlin says he learned the myth of Bruce Springsteen - the artist who never abandoned his working class roots and who, despite his wealth, still sides with the little guy - is no myth at all.

“When he gets up in the morning, and goes to - stumbles to the mirror, the guy he sees in the mirror is still the same loser - lower working-class kid - that the other kids taunted because he was so weird,” he said.

The frayed, rundown glamour of the New Jersey beaches where he blossomed as a musician, and the struggle of the people who live there, are still part of Bruce Springsteen. And it’s still part of his music.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Trumpeter, percussionist and bandleader Etienne Charles was born in Trinidad and blends island rhythms with modern jazz. He and his stellar band perform a rich gumbo of jazz, calypso, reggae, and rock-steady that Charles calls “Creole Soul” on "The Hamilton Live."