His book is worth reading – and his second act worth considering.
A friend snapped this cell phone picture of Bruce recently, after waiting in the cold to see him leave the theater after his Broadway show in New York City.
This same friend, who grew up idolizing Bruce, had risked her life the year before to meet Bruce in San Francisco. Having missed him as he left a talk he’d just given, my friend ran after Bruce’s SUV across traffic on Franklin Street, and banged on his window, which he rolled down.
“I love you” she yelled, stunned. “I love you too,” was his response, shaking her hand and then driving off.
Bruce Springsteen is having his second big moment in the sun right now, between his much discussed autobiography and his now mega-successful Broadway show.
His book is worth reading. I got sucked in, because his writing (his own) is natural and funny, and seems highly authentic and not manufactured. It’s the story of someone driven to create and tell stories as a matter of emotional survival.
He admits and takes responsibility for his many shortcomings, mistakes, and how much of a jerk he was to people. He acknowledges that he didn’t do it all by himself, nor could he have. He acknowledges how many days and years he wasted obsessively remixing tapes round the clock, when some of his best tracks were cut and mixed in a matter of minutes. He shows empathy and compassion for people, and while he obviously thinks highly of himself, doesn’t come across as arrogant.
But these aren’t the reasons for the attention Bruce is getting now.
He’s filling a need, for celebrities we can look up to who have both amazing talent and integrity, in an era where lots of celebrities really have neither.
He’s like the Sully Sullenberger of 2016-17… someone who’s done undeniably awesome stuff with at least some humility, and seems trustworthy and transparent at a time when you don’t know who else you can trust.
He’s the voice that people want to hear right now, whether they’re projecting too much on him, or not.
He’s also someone with staying power – he didn’t just keep recycling his hits of the 70s and 80s, but worked hard to discover new ideas and create new material, even if it risked tarnishing his peak-Springsteen commercial image. We’ll see if he keeps it up, but it seems like he’s aiming for Pete Seeger-type staying power.
Of course, there was a point when I thought Bill Cosby reeked of integrity too. And Springsteen is certainly making a ton of money off his broadway show.
But lets give him the benefit of the doubt.
And if you’re a musician, or any kind of creative person – or just a Springsteen fan – definitely get his book, it’s a great read.