10 Things We Want to Learn from Bruce Springsteen’s Autobiography

By Brian Ives 

We were pretty surprised when we heard (and then reported) the news that Bruce Springsteen is set to release his autobiography, Born to Run, later this year. He’s never seemed to be the kind of guy who wants to reveal too much about his life beyond what he shares in his songs, and in the few interviews that he grants.

Also: 2012’s Bruce, by Peter Ames Carlin, seemed to tell most of the story. It was not an authorized biography, but it may as well have been; Springsteen sat for a number of interviews, as did members of his family and the E Street Band.

But we’re glad to hear that The Boss is going to give his own point of view on his journey. Will he take the approach that Bob Dylan did in Chronicles Vol. 1 and just tell the parts that he’s comfortable with? Or will he go into the details of his personal and band life? We’ll find out in September. But here are a few things we’re hoping to learn from the book.

When did he get tired of being “The Boss”? Springsteen (and his team) worked extremely hard, for years, to build his public persona as a larger-than-life figure. But he seemed to tire of that during the Born in the U.S.A. period, when he became one of the biggest pop stars in the world, headlining stadiums, and dominating radio and MTV. On the following album, Tunnel of Love, he stripped down his music and persona considerably.  When did he actually realize that he was no longer comfortable in the character that he’d built for himself?

What did he really think of David Bowie‘s covers of his songs? In the early ’70s, Bowie covered “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” and “Growin’ Up.” Last month, Springsteen repaid the favor by covering “Rebel Rebel” as a tribute to Bowie, who had just passed away. But in the liner notes of Bowie’s Sound + Vision box set, Bowie recalled that Springsteen visited the studio during those sessions and “He didn’t like what we were doing. At least, he didn’t express much enthusiasm.” What’s Bruce’s take on those sessions?

What was his worst opening gig? Springsteen has rarely used an opening act. Could it have something to do with him not being treated well when he was an opening act? There’s got to be some funny untold stories there. We know that Bruce once opened for Anne Murray and it didn’t go well. Yes, Anne Murray.

Did Sting influence his decision to fire the E Street Band after the Tunnel of Love tour? The band’s last tour before their decade-long hiatus was for Amnesty International, on a multi-artist package including Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour. There was a rumor at one point that Sting, who’d been solo for a few years after the split of the Police, influenced Bruce’s decision to leave the band and to work with other musicians.

What did he think of the Traveling Wilburys‘ “Tweeter and the Monkey Man”? In 1988, the Traveling Wilburys—Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne—released their Vol. 1 album, featuring this song, which is set in New Jersey and  which featured multiple Springsteen references, including “Stolen Car,” “Mansion On The Hill,” “Thunder Road,” “State Trooper,” “Factory,” “The River,” “Lion’s Den,” and “Jersey Girl” (a Tom Waits song which Springsteen, of course, covered). It was never clear if Dylan, who sang lead on the song, was poking fun at Bruce. It also came as Bruce was falling out of vogue. How did he feel about the song?

In Bruce, Gary Tallent says that he was initially invited to the 1999 reunion tour via a phone call from an accountant, with a very low-ball deal. Why did Bruce allow that to happen?

When did he decide that it wasn’t working out with “the other band?” In the ’90s, while touring for the 1992 albums Human Touch and Lucky Town, Springsteen toured with a band led by E Street’s Roy Bittan and featuring bassist Tommy Simms, guitarist Shane Fontayne, drummer Zack Alford and singer Crystal Taliefero. After the tour finished, he never worked with those musicians again (other than Bittan); when did he realize that that band wasn’t working out?

Who’s idea was it to do a reggae version of the Beatles’ “Come Together” with Axl Rose? Seriously, who’s idea was that?

What did he think of Meat Loaf‘s Bat Out Of HellMany thought that the album, with  its wall of sound production, epic song structures and dramatic narrative, was a huge Born to Run tribute that bordered on parody, including the album’s producer, Todd Rundgren. Plus, E Streeters Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg were on the album. What was Bruce’s reaction when he heard the record?

What does he really think of Chris Christie? New Jersey’s Governor is a famously enthusiastic Bruce fan, yet his politics are generally the polar opposite of Springsteen’s. What’s Bruce’s take on him?

Born to Run is due to be released on September 27, 2016.

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