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By MARC DOLAN, an associate professor of English, American studies and film studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Dolan's new biography traces Bruce Springsteen's evolution from a young artist struggling to convey his experience to an acclaimed musician with a strong cultural and political voice.
In 1962, Bruce Springsteen took eighteen dollars he'd earned painting houses and bought a secondhand guitar. That, he has said is when "it hit me completely, took over my whole life. Everything from then on revolved around music. Everything." Brilliantly analyzing and evoking Springsteen's lyrics and sound, Dolan unveils the pulsing heart of his music: its deep personal, political, and cultural resonances, which enabled Springsteen to reflect on his experiences and the world around him with unprecedented power.
Drawing on rare sources -- including hundreds of unreleased studio recordings and bootlegs of live performances Ð Dolan offers new insights into Springsteen's development as an artist and as an individual. We get a fascinating portrait of the trajectory of Springsteen's style, which draws inspiration from an incredible range of genres: pop music of the 1960s, the singer-songwriter movement, country music, even punk rock. Just as importantly, we see how Springsteen worked for decades to create a socially responsible voice that could express not only his own experience as a boy from working-class New Jersey but also greater issues facing the United States, including war, class disparity, and prejudice.
W.W. Norton & Company, June 2012. Hardcover, 512 Pages.
"In an appreciative study that at times verges on the academic, Dolan traces Springsteen's journey through a song-by-song and album-by-album development..." -- Publishers Weekly
"...greetings from the genre of fusion biography, where biographers without a direct pipeline to the focus of the investigation delve into a rock legend with -connect-the-dots fervor driven by a personal agenda.... Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll endeavors to get to the heart of its subject by viewing him through the economic, social, political, religious and family turmoil that formed a musician who found out early on how to make his guitar talk but spent painful decades refining what he needed to make it say....
"The professor in Dolan provides mini history lessons on the Rodney King debacle that left Los Angeles in flames (and left Springsteen unnerved) and the shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York City that provoked Springsteen's incendiary 'American Skin.'..." -- New York Times