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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”