Craig Werner's Reviews > Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts, the Story

Bruce Springsteen by Dave Marsh
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Apr 06, 12

bookshelves: friends-books, music, biography
Read in April, 2012

As close to a definitive (which is not to say authorized) biography of the early and mid-periods of Springsteen's career as we're likely to get, Two Hearts combines Marsh's two Bruce books--Born to Run and Glory Days--with a new introduction and a coda covering the period from Tunnel of Love through The Rising. Since I've reviewed Born to Run separately, I'll concentrate on Glory Days here. Writing near the end of the absolutely atypical "Bossmania" period of the mid-1980s, Marsh focuses his attention on Bruce's largely succesful struggle to maintain integrity while being subjected to unremitting public attention. He tracks the problems presented by the move from clubs to arenas to stadiums; chronicles the attention (unwanted and distorting) Bruce received from politicians attempting to claim him for conservative (Reagan) or neo-liberal (Bill Bradley) agendas; provides a sympathtic portrait of Bruce's first wife, Julie Phillips; and, most importantly, documents the concerts which embodied Bruce's creative vision. Probably inevitably given the context, there's more detail about record sales, attendance, etc. than in Born to Run and it occasionally slows the pace, as do some extremely detailed reports on particular concerts. As in Born to Run, the high points include Bruce's comments on his creative process and Marsh's brilliant analyses of the logic of concerts--song choice, pacing, the balance between music and story-telling. Marsh has made it clear he's not going to write volume 3 and I understand why, but when I reached the end of Two Hearts, I couldn't help wishing he'd change his mind. Critics who say Marsh has written hagiography haven't paid much attention to the books, but it's clear that no writer will ever approach Springsteen with deeper sympathy and understanding.
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