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A book by peter carlin

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Scooter and the Big Man

  • Aug 25, 2013
While it is a well loved song, I've always ranked "Tenth Avenue Freezeout" higher as biography than as music.  After reading this biography that view is both reinforced, affirmed, and elevated.

Bruce Springsteen is that rarest of celebrities, one who is respected for what he does and what he represents, not just because or even in spite of his celebrity.  He is credited as a spokesman, a symbol of a time and place, a representation of the virtues and worth of the average American--and he has retained and strengthened this position in spite of his immense wealth and obviously exceptional role in life.  There is nothing average or working class about Bruce, but yet he remains....Bruce.

Carlin does a good job documenting his family roots and early life, showing us the beginnings that earned Bruce the right to the position he would later claim in his lyrics, music, and lifestyle.  Carolina also tells us about the roots of the fractured relationship with his emotionally scarred father that played such a key role in the development of Bruce's intense and sometimes mercurial personality that drove his desire to not just survive the Jersey streets but rise above and beyond them.

The most interesting and fully developed part of this biography covers Bruce's early days after high school struggling to establish his life as a musician in and out of bands playing in basements, a surf board factory where the owner gave Bruce and his band room, equipment and time to practice in between shifts, and tours around Bruce's Jersey shore roots and oddly, Richmond, Virginia.  We see the intensity in his personality com through in a clear eyed and almost maniacal focus on writing, playing, and performing music.  We also see how that focus affected his personal relationships and relationship with his family.   We learn the truth, or at least the founding myth, of Scooter and the Big Man.  It is a story as mythic as the music.

When success finally came, it came on those same terms of focus and intensity.  For Bruce it was always about the music without compromise.  And the success wasn't instant or easy.  Even after the first two albums, a small but fervent fan base, and glowing critical reviews, Columbia was ready to drop their young troubadour for the newly signed singer/songwriter Billy Joel because of his expected broader appeal.  Put on notice that his next song had to be a hit, Springsteen spent months crafting "Born to Run", which stands beside "Like a Rolling Stone" as one of the greatest and most decorated rock songs of all time. 

With his career finally established, Bruce didn't settle for success.  From here on the biography focuses more on the music and gets away from the personal account of Bruce's life as his fame grows and he makes hard decisions balancing his relationships and his drive to be not just successful but to be at the top of the music industry.  Perhaps because the events are too recent for his sources to open up, or because Carlin chooses to pull his punches, the biography loses some steam from here to the end and becomes basically a critical review of the music and recording process.  Clocking in at nearly 500 pages, perhaps length was a consideration as well, but I was still left wanting to know more about the man than his music.

And that is the power of Bruce.  So well known through his music, so widely praised for his music, so often covered for his stances and symbolism, the man at the core still stands strong and true enough to intrigue.  I want to know more, perhaps, than heaven will allow.

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August 25, 2013
so what is the title of the book? I need to correct the topic since it says "want it Aug. 24"? Lunch This at amazon is not working well....
August 25, 2013
I searched amazon and found this book. Please look at the topic title and/or put the name of the book as you post since lost titles can be confusing Thanks
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
About this product


For this authorized biography of anthemic rocker Bruce Springsteen, music critic and unabashed Springsteen fan Carlin, who has also written about Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney, was able to obtain interviews with many of the musician’s closest friends and relatives. His access to, among others, Springsteen’s mother, sisters, early bandmates, and high-school pals makes for an unusually intimate portrait. Carlin provides detailed accounts of the musician’s personal and professional life, from his lower-working-class childhood in Freehold, New Jersey, to his social invisibility in high school, to his local and then regional popularity, and then worldwide stardom. Along the way, Springsteen battled depression, which also afflicted his father; eschewed drugs and alcohol; juggled numerous romantic entanglements; and worked tirelessly on his music and his stage presence, morphing from a shy loner to a mesmerizing performer of hours-long concerts. Like many highly creative people, he was fairly ruthless about allowing his music to dictate his direction, which sometimes led to dissension within the E-Street Band. Springsteen emerges from these pages as a hard worker and a painstaking musician who has never forgotten his working-class roots. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Published in conjunction with Bruce Springsteen’s worldwide tour in support of his latest album, this authorized biography is sure to draw plenty of off-the-book-page interest. --Joanne Wilkinson
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