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E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  36 reviews
An intimate look at one of rock’s brightest stars and his legendary backing band

Before he was the swaggering, stadium-packing megastar, Bruce Springsteen was a brooding introvert, desperate to strike a balance between his nuanced songwriting and the heft of his backing band. Clinton Heylin’s revelatory biography, E Street Shuffle, chronicles the evolution and influence of
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 3rd 2013 by Viking (first published October 1st 2012)
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Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
How do I put this? I am aware that Bruce Springsteen is a human being. He has flaws, moments of being an asshole, all that stuff. I know this, but I don't want to read about them. As someone who has written about rock music and been around the business, I am about as jaded and cynical as you can get, but when it comes to the Boss, I need the myth. Plus, the criticisms that Heylin makes come off as shallow, like he couldn't come up with enough dirt. Yes, he takes a while to make records. And he w ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always enjoyed Heylin's take on Bob Dylan, which he's parlayed into a mini-industry of written work, so I was curious to see what he thought of Bruce Springsteen. Predictably, the reaction seems to have been evenly split between those who think Heylin's brand of criticism is a breath of fresh air and those who think he's a biased curmudgeon with an axe to grind.

Who's to say he can't be both, and that the result can't be illuminating and worthwhile?

While there's a certain attractiveness abou
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: music, read-in-2016
Disappointing. I've read & enjoyed other books by Heylin, but this one was rough.

Far too much time is spent on BS's contractual wrangling in the 70s and documenting the evolution of various songs.

Heylin's writing only sings when he's given an opportunity to critique the writing of other critics as they write about Springsteen. There you can see the fun snarky book that might have been.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing I am convinced this author is fond of is the sound of his own voice. He manages to take an interesting subject and turn it into the most boring research paper ever written, though rife with personal opinions and florid sentences that would make any decent college professor savage it with a red pen and write snarky comments in the margin. The sentences barely justify the roping together of piles of quotes. It is a mess. I need to read something else immediately to scrub off the fee ...more
May 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music, biography, 2014
This was awful. A litany of unreleased songs, lyric changes, and endless studio time. And then we have the author's opinion of these unreleased songs and lyric changes, and he's not happy with Bruce's choices. I can't believe I finished this. If someone owns every Boss bootleg and wants the origin story for every minute of music this is for them. This is the second crappy Heylin book I've picked up by Heylin, the first being "From The Velvets To The Voidoids." No more!
Joseph Spuckler
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, music
Friday afternoon in Cleveland, WMMS on the radio, 5:00 comes around as the opening cords of Born to Run sound. It's the weekend. I knew that the weekend started all through the late 1970s and early 80s because The Boss was playing, Cleveland's patron saint of rock and roll. Even today, the 80s are long gone, WMMS died and was reborn, Cleveland is long gone for me, but still as I ride into my weekend every week with Born to Run as the first song on my playlist.

E Street Shuffle is a history of Br
A mixed bag.

One-half of this book is truly insightful, cutting, and blessedly non-conformist; even a longtime Bruce fan like me can appreciate a little balloon-puncturing when it comes to Our Hero.

Heylin persuasively argues that as good as Bruce's classic run (1972-1984) was, it was in many ways a lost opportunity. Bruce's ability to self-edit, usually seen as his greatest strength, resulting in seven nearly-unimpeachable albums of concision and purpose, is here given a counter-argument that his
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
On the plus side, the author has access to a huge number of recording sessions and is able to trace the evolution of Springsteen's songs and albums. He shows the evolution of each Springsteen album and how much Springsteen struggled to find the "perfect" album, the perfect songs, even the perfect order for the songs. Heylin also has access to numerous interviews of Springsteen and many others, and is able to illustrate some of the thought processes that went into the decisions.

However, there wer
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was more oral history than anything else: a behind the scenes look at Springsteen's career pieced together through scraps of interviews, documentaries, and court depositions. There's an addictive quality to it - every time the band entered the studio again, I found myself revisiting the album to see what was left standing after the creative process. That said, I wanted more than arguments over songs/editing - how The Boss writes, how ideas evolve. Heylin seems far more interested in do ...more
Bill McFadyen
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The E Street Shuffle is an interesting and detailed account of the working and thinkings of Bruce Springsteen , his management issues , his song writing , his OCD and his relationships with people.
I revisited his early albums as I read the book and enjoyed relistening to his anthems.
The detail of his songs , the bootlegs the time - the long long time in the studios , his relationships with management and his treatment of members of his long standing team show that Bruce like is all - has his is
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Clinton Heylin) – Critical but incisive and insightful biog. It could have done with a bit less about Bruce’s psychosis and a bit more about the E street band.
May 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I bought this book ages ago and finally sat down to read it. I thought it was going to be more about the band members and the early days but that's not exactly what it was about and I honestly got bored half way thru
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Not the book I thought it would be. Actually very little about the E Street Band members, and their relationships amongst each other, and with Bruce. Very little about life on the road, and only vague generalities about receding sessions. Mostly about the evolution of songs and albums from Bruce’s perspective, and the business drama with Appel and CBS.
Jan 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I have been a Springsteen fan for a long time so I was really excited to read this book about him and The E Street Band. I ended up learning a lot about the difficult times Springsteen had before he became so successful. Heylin does a great job of giving an inside look into the frustration Springsteen had with figuring out which direction he wanted his music to go. It was really interesting to read about how Springsteen for a time thought about going solo and doing acoustic work. I enjoy all of ...more
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: muziek
I picked up this book purely on the strength of Heylin's book on Dylan's recording sessions. I'm relatively new to Springsteens music, and was looking for a book to help me find my way in. Purely as a biography, I do not think this is a very satisfying read; there might be something better on the market, painting a more diverse and complete picture of Bruce. Do not pick up this book if you are looking for a general biography about 'any famous person will do'.
Clinton Heylin is all about the music
Allan Heron
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lots of varied comments about this book so it's maybe worth saying that if you want a biography of Bruce then this is not the book for you. What it is though is a look at Springsteen the creative artist and his work with the E-Street Band who were always more than just a backing band for the Boss.

As such, there's a heavy focus on the creative process and other things going on in Bruce's life are usually just mentioned as they impact on this.

Heylin's books are always prone to generate debate and
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I've always been a big fan but this book had lots of info that I didn't know. Didn't know it took him seven years of bumming around from one band to another, different band members, different promoters and a really hard time of making it. He came up dirt poor and didn't get along with his dad, often sleeping outside in a sleeping bag. He was a big Van Morrison, Bob Dylan fan but had his own style and stayed with it. The book gets a little bogged down in the middle talking about promoters and con ...more
Reuben Herfindahl
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read, but at times it seemed like I'd read it before. It suffers from the same problems as his definitive Dylan book, "Behind the Shades". As in it tends to get too far into the weeds of outtakes of albums and tends to argue that take 74, would have been better than take 73.

That aside, he's learned since the Dylan book to give up when he gets bored. Where in the Dylan book you could tell he was struggling to wrote anything good about post 60's Dylan, here he just stops after 1984.

Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This isn't an intimate look at the man as much as a really detailed look at his songs 1969-1984. And it is really boring. I am a BIG fan but I found this book so dull. I read every word, just in case there was something interesting in it that I didn't know about him, but, all I discovered was long lost songs and lyrics that I'm never gonna hear unless I can obtain bootlegs of bootlegs. It was ridiculous. Heylin is opinionated beyond belief about things that don't matter and have never had an imp ...more
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Highly opinionated and essential reading for fans of early Springsteen in which Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez and David Sancious finally get their due. Springsteen as thin-skinned self-absorbed studio perfectionist is at odds with how we know him today as the peoples' mega rock star. The book is especially good when examining Springsteen's song writing and creative process. It is all the more remarkable that he has made such powerful & fresh sounding music through such self-conscious and belabored means. ...more
Jul 14, 2015 added it
Shelves: springsteen, 2015
Somehow I got it in my head that Clinton Heylin's E Street Shuffle was more about the E Street Band and less about Springsteen, specifically. Turns out it's a pretty straight forward Boss bio with a couple interviews of band members sprinkled throughout. But like Stevie Van Zandt told Bruce in a darkened kitchen a few days before Bruce's induction into the Rock and Roll HOF as a solo artist. "Yeah, I understand. But Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band -- That's the legend." Someone should wr ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm a gigantic Springsteen fan and have seem him live a bunch of times in the 15 years. I was late to the party, however, and didn't become a fan until the late '90s/early '00s. For that reason, it's possible that I don't mind it when Heylin pokes holes in Bruce's image. The discussion of all the different album sequences and potential songs that just missed the cut is fascinating. Heylin did a ton of research to put together the history of the studio work. I don't agree with a lot of his conclu ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Read the British edition, with the appendix in back describing all of the recording sessions up thru Born in the USA. The actual text is only fair, with some unwarranted criticism and retreading lots of stuff that has been said many times before. I'm fine with criticism, but this comes across as snarky rather than substantial. The appendix at the end is worthwhile for all of the details on unreleased songs. There's a goldmine of stuff out there that Bruce still needs to release...
Jeff Howells
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A relatively brief trot through Bruce Springsteen's career - focusing exclusively on his time with the E Street Band (i.e. up to Tunnel of Love). His first 3 albums are covered in the most detail (good for me as they're my favourites) but Heylin gives the impression that he doesn't like Bruce the man all that much. He is very much in the Mike Appel camp (his 1st manager and subject of a protracted lawsuit). That being said if you like Springsteen you'll like this book.
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free copy of this book from good reads first reads giveaway. First,I usually don't read biographies. I actually entered the contest because I wanted to give it to my dad, who is a huge Springsteen fan. He is currently reading it so I'm going to post his review of the book. Maybe, if I get to read it myself, I will in addition post my own review.
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Weak and predictable analysis...but still a good time! It's stark how the songs slowly changed from the character driven rambling style of the first few records to something more concise-and better- by the time Born in the USA was hammered out. Guess I just wanted to hear more about that evolution.
Amy Rose
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Won this book from goodreads giveaways.

Very detailed book about Springsteens rise to stardom. I agree that an index might be helpful in the final copy.

I was impressed with the amount of research, and quotes that in the book. injoyed reading it and learned a lot.
Peter Shovlin
Apr 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Very anoraky approach to the glory days of Bruce and the band, going into a lot of detail about the surplus material he recorded and songs he ditched from his albums. For the devoted only! One thing though, considering the author is clearly a super fan, he is ultra critical of the various albums
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
I learned a lot but I couldn't stand the authors attitude towards Bruce. Yeh Bruce isn't perfect but the author speaks of him as if he is a no good criminal! Especially towards the end, it was a struggle to finish because the anti Bruce sentiment was so strong and bias.
Kevin Duvall
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Heylin is a little too hung up on the idea that "[insert unused track or alternate version] is better than what ended up on the album," but the book's bevy of information Springsteen's songwriting and recording is fascinating.
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