Rock Reads: Bruce Springsteen: An Illustrated Biography by Meredith Ochs

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

Springsteen is one of America's most-beloved contemporary musicians and his body of work over the past 50-years has earned him a lot more than platinum albums; he's joined the likes of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan as part of the very fabric of America. This book can be thought of as a sort of hard copy companion to the "Springsteen on Broadway" show; his life is covered here from his early days in Freehold, New Jersey to the very current Broadway shows. Chapters are not lengthy and the biographical details found elsewhere are omitted in favor of the inclusion of tales you haven't heard, like how Bruce's ability to dodge snowballs as a kid presaged his stage moves, and how he met a Harley-loving bartender named Bubbles in a Prescott, Arizona bar, found out she had big hospital bills from a fight with cancer, and paid them off for her. The written word here constantly reveals Springsteen's humanity and is written in a style that makes for a fast, fun and informative read. But this is, as the title says, an illustrated biography, and the included photos tell a story all of their own. This great coffee table book also includes a packet of ephemera with replicas of things like show posters and magazine covers and even a facsimile of Springsteen's draft card. Perhaps the best of the inserts is a suitable-for-framing print of Springsteen with the late Clarence Clemons.

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