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bruce springsteen

The current and future Nobel Laureates in 1975. Image from


Bruce Springsteen a future Nobel Laureate?

If Bob Dylan wins a Nobel Prize for Literature, why wouldn’t the man once called ‘The Next Bob Dylan?’

Along with lyrics that dare challenge the scope of epic rock and rollers of the past, Gilgamesh, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, The Boss and his body of work stand second to none of them.

And he’s not done. He wrote a book seven years in the making. Take that, Mr. Tambourine Man

With Born To Run, the Bruce Springsteen autobiography is a wrap, a story ready for a long shelf life protected from out of print neglect by the sort of low to no sales vanity projects celebrities load up with their truth.

The difference is Bruce Truth is our truth.

How does he sell out east coast show runs in ten minutes? Born To Run shines a light on what draws the crowd, from worldwide fans, to worshipers, to friends and neighbors.

In every eastern city you can find people living in cold water half houses and it’s all normal to them.

Half house? Bruce grew up in half houses with his parents after starting out with his grandmother. He went from king of the granny castle to sharing a half house with a dad who made little time for his own kid.

The way he explained it, Doug Springsteen was a classic early baby boomer dad wondering how he got trapped with ‘these people’ all around him.

Turns out he had a few undiagnosed problems common to the post-WWII era, finding answers in his own dark dance with alcohol and tobacco at the kitchen table.

Who hasn’t visited a friend’s house with that dad skulking around with an air of ‘leave me the hell alone you punks.’

If you’re a dad now, you know. Your kids didn’t always find friends you approved of.

Elvis and The Beatles made sure young Bruce knew what to do about his dad: Stay clear. He has no idea about you, you old hound dog you.

Bruce Springsteen, couch surfer

As a writer, Bruce is his best subject. He wrote himself as a pimpled up greaser playing brain crushing blues rock in long hair bands, sleeping on couches between gigs and living a starving artist life.

In New Jersey.

Who does that without cracking and giving up, getting a job, and locking memories down to a few faded pictures of ‘back in the day?’

Where was the out of town groupie with the smoky eyes and golden hair that made you forget about everything you ever dreamed of but her?

No neighborhood girls sunk a hook deep enough in the Bruce heart to make him dedicate the rest of his life to them, their own half house full of kids to ignore on the yearly trip to the Jersey Shore.

Credit Mr. Springsteen, his ‘holy six pack’ and a hard box of smokes. No booze and drugs for young Bruce or else he’d fall into his dad’s hell-hole life of despair.

Nothing like a good warning sign at the edge of that cliff.

With his hands on the wheel, Bruce changed gears, wrote his own material for acoustic guitar, and auditioned for the same guy who discovered Bob Dylan. Destiny and fate, taking the big leap?

After reading that section of Born To Run I found this video:

Just a guy and a guitar and thousands of fan in France trying to understand what the heck he’s saying.

Looks like Elvis in black leather during his Comeback Special in 1968

And he carries the room like he did for John Hammond and Clive Davis, beating on a guitar and bellowing soul like a calf with the scourers.

Bruce Springsteen is not Abraham Lincoln

Bruce didn’t walk out of some log cabin after reading law books by firelight and lead a broken nation through a civil war, but he did leave a series of Jersey half houses, and a family celebration when one finally had real hot water running through the taps.

He left on a mission to drill down on the life he lived, the place he showed up, the people around him. And he gave them all to us, shared what would ordinarily fly under every radar.

Jimmy the Saint? Weak Knee Willie? Eddie? The Springsteen casting call reaches around the world.

He’s knows them. We know them when we pass by a bridge covered tent city, the woman in the rain at the left turn median, a sleeping bag in a shopping cart, real people in real time living without.

You read comments today about a rich white privileged Bruce Springsteen from new to the show fans and understand why he had to write Born To Run. His is the triumph, the sort of miracle that never happens.

Take a good look at Bruce today. Start with

That’s a face from history, more than just Bruce history, the history of man made of simple clay and sticks fired to life exploration. That history.

He’s the guy carrying the load, shouldering the wheel, the blood on the wall, tempered steel.

Take a trip across internet centuries and see The Bruce Face in every war trench, farm fence, ship at sea; catch it beaming in every parade, bowed on funeral day, finding places to look away.

Born To Run echoes with hope that even one turned down Jersey loner beach rat didn’t wind up an elderly re-hab story addicted ex-rocker with perfect teeth.

Last note: This is a guy who organized his sound, organized the people he needed to play it live the way it’s supposed to sound (twice), and still seems to have a real wife, two real sons, and a real daughter.

Take another looks at The Bruce Face.

bruce springsteen


Looks a little like Tom Jones, like Mike Rowe, the guy in the mower store, the ex-con bible salesman knocking on your door.

He explained the rich man in a poor man’s shirt thing a while ago. So he likes grunge style. Who doesn’t? It’s not like he’s auditioning for a Village People part.

The Bruce Face is a face to trust, one you don’t expect at a celebrity drug bust full of angel dust for old time’s sake when you dropped the one mistake your kids would never forgive.

That sort of trust. Don’t let us down, Bruce. You said, “No one wins unless everyone wins.”

Born To Run is either a skeleton muscled by tissue from every song Bruce whistled to himself standing thumb out on hot Jersey highways, or the tendons and connectives between our own stream of conscious attention spans playing tricks with time.

Or both.

About David Gillaspie
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