This is my personal review of Bruce’s autobiography, “Born To Run”, a book I haven’t finished yet, 500 pages is twice those I am used to in other music (auto)biographies and I am taking my time, it’s nice to stop at times and re-read certain passages and really take them in. I have personally worked in both the music business and the book trade, both were vocations, and I particularly love collecting and reading books. I can however count in single figures the number of music autobiographies that stand out and make me return to time and again. Ian Hunter’s “Diary of a Rock’n’Roll Star”, Viv Albertine’s honest and poignant “Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys” and Keith Richard’s “Life” are the rare exception. One thing that makes a book more personal is the lack of a ghost writer and this is proved particularly with Bruce’s “Born To Run”. As soon as you start reading it is clear he wrote each and every word and often I find myself hearing his voice speaking the words, it is at times conversational, full of anecdotes, and stories told in the way we have heard him tell on stage over so many years especially those classic monologues which so transfix the audience. What I am finding is that he also writes with, at times, brutal honesty, he doesn’t build himself up, and if he did then he wouldn’t leave out the fall! It’s natural that the press have picked up on the disclosure of his depression and his conflict with his father (themes that particularly resonate with me), but that is only one example of the openness and confessions in the book.
It is no surprise that he has been writing this tome for many years, unlike some other artists, he isn’t promoting or rebooting the career or cashing in on past glories. Too many autobiographies are dictated to journalists who then sanitise their words to boost the egos and the artist’s self-importance. Many times you have to turn to unauthorised biographies to fill in the gaps, It is annoying that stories that should and could be told are watered down or worse still ignored by artists who were important players in a particular time and place. Bruce has been with us for five decades and he knows he is a seasoned storyteller, the words that bled from pen to paper explain so much that we didn’t know, rumours and half-truths put to bed, and allow us to look into the man, the music and his life that has touched us all. I know I won’t just read the book once, there’ll be a copy by my bed where my best reading takes place and I will I am sure reach out and relive a chapter every now and then. I had always been hoping my other ‘hero’ David Bowie would write his autobiography, (he first mentioned it back in the 1970’s), but David wasn’t always a friend of the truth, he changed his stories from growing up to his music experiences more frequently than he changed his image, the tales were adapted to whoever he wanted to be at the time. “I knew his mother and she told many a different tale” to quote Bowie himself So perhaps I might have been disappointed if he had ever written his book, but I have also been mostly disappointed by the countless biographies written about him before and since his death. But disappointed is never a word I have really ever used in the context of Bruce, and now finally having his book to hand I feel I know and understand him more than any other artist, and although I’ve only ever met him for a brief minute or two (and I could manage only a few stuttering, flustered words!), the book feels like I’ve spent some intimate time in the company of a true storyteller, for me, the best. “Born To Run” eclipses all other books written about him and most are now redundant. Often advertisers’ blurb will say “If you only read one book this year….”, I can’t for once disagree with those claims. Thank you Bruce, yet again you’ve gone that extra mile for us all. I hope for Bruce it has been a cathartic and positive experience. My video review here