...[a] big, loose, rangy and intensely satisfying memoir ... The book is like one of Mr. Springsteen’s shows — long, ecstatic, exhausting, filled with peaks and valleys ... Born to Run is, like his finest songs, closely observed from end to end. His story is intimate and personal, but he has an interest in other people and a gift for sizing them up.
...a 508-page offering that, like his four-hour concerts, delivers enough punch and laughter, sorrow and succor, to satisfy your soul and still, somehow, leave you wanting more ... Throughout the book, Springsteen brings moments such as these to life with memories that put you in the room, whether it’s a whispered aside from Bob Dylan at the Kennedy Center Honors, arguments with record company executives over what to do with an album, or a rare guitar-throwing tantrum directed at his friend and longtime manager Jon Landau ... these chapters reveal many new sides, not all flattering, of a person who has been telling his story for nearly a half century.
It helps that Springsteen can write — not just life-imprinting song lyrics but good, solid prose that travels all the way to the right margin ... Oh, there are a few gassy bits here and there, a jot too much couch-inspired hooey about the 'terrain inside my own head'...But nothing in Born to Run rings to me as unmeant or punch-pulling. If anything, Springsteen wants credit for telling it the way it really is and was. And like a fabled Springsteen concert — always notable for its deck-clearing thoroughness — Born to Run achieves the sensation that all the relevant questions have been answered by the time the lights are turned out.
In a book that bears the hallmarks of having been written by his own hand, Springsteen is particularly good at capturing the exhilaration of his rise to success ... The book is as rich in anecdote and detail as in anguish and doubt ... Overwriting and repetition sometimes make it feel as though he has chosen to issue the literary equivalent of the four-CD deluxe version.
...a virtuoso performance, the 508-page equivalent to one of Springsteen and the E Street Band's famous four-hour concerts: Nothing is left onstage, and diehard fans and first-timers alike depart for home sated and yet somehow already aching for more ... Born to Run hits point blank at the mind and the heart because, like many dozens of Springsteen songs, it's fundamentally about how each of us can work to stay in touch with our humanity — and at the toughest times, how we, like Springsteen himself, may will it into present existence.
This particular relic was always one of the most relentlessly self-examining of those lumbering gods, and he spends as much time tarnishing his silver here as varnishing it. Even at his more florid, he must be conceded a magic with words: He can spin not only a yarn but often an extended analysis, too ... Some of the best chapters about it come late in the book, when Bruce is a family man himself but still dealing with his now-elderly father’s erratic and dangerous behavior and searching for some peace and reconciliation between them ... the amalgam of personal and vocational tale makes the book messier but also somewhat distinctive.
Anyone who has been to a Bruce Springsteen concert will immediately recognize the tone he brings to his autobiography, Born to Run. It’s the voice of his onstage storytelling: hearty, comic, forthright, earthy, sometimes poetic, and grounded in the everyday yet somehow larger than life ... Beyond an occasional trivial detail, Springsteen doesn’t contradict his biographers. His book traces the same well-documented career, recognizing the same crossroads. Yet Springsteen also depicts what his biographers can’t: textures, images, psychological states, and what happens between the cycles of recording and touring ... As in his songs, Springsteen’s earnestness and his overworked conscience are never far from the surface of Born to Run. But it’s the rocker in him—the noisy, rambunctious, over-the-top trouper—whose voice gives life to his words.
...ambitious, earnest, lyric, rollicking, loud, and long ... what emerges is not a joyride of Dionysian excess but a portrait of the young artist as a single-minded pragmatist ... This is not to suggest that Springsteen is without a comic sensibility. He’s particularly adept at puncturing the pretensions of his various rock personas ... If there’s a design flaw in Born to Run it has to do with the inherent arc of the celebrity memoir. It’s simply not as bracing to read in the final third of the book about Springsteen’s later years ... Where Springsteen soars — both as musician and writer — is in his ability to bear witness, not only to his own inner life but to the lives of those left behind in the post-industrial wastelands of this nation.
...[a] richly rewarding rock tome ... a book that illuminates not just the career, but the full-bodied life of one of pop music’s most valuable artists. It’s alternately brutally honest, philosophically deep, stabbingly funny and, perhaps most important, refreshingly humble ... Bruce Springsteen proves that he has taken on life fully engaged both in living and examining it, and in doing so, he’s delivered a story as profoundly inspiring as his best music.
After reading this book, even loyal fans will think of him differently than they did before ... Mr. Springsteen investigates the emotional discord of his own life while capturing the sense of celebration and almost religious fervor in much of his music ... Throughout the book, he carefully walks the line between buffing the Springsteen mythology and unmasking his agonies ... Here and there, though, the book flags; some sections seem perfunctory, if not dull.
...[a] rowdy, witty and frequently heartstring-strumming autobiography ... one of the true rewards of this long-awaited memoir is Springsteen’s exemplary ability to make sense of himself — and acknowledge the times when he couldn’t ... Just when he’s getting all deep on us — just like the flow of one of his legendarily marathon concerts, come to think of it — he’ll crack you up with his self-deprecation ... There are many more moments of beauty spiced with humor — of sheer human feeling — in these pages. And that, despite the author’s occasional admissions of uncertainty, is certainly not nothing.
Born to Run turns out to be as generous-spirited and open as his marathon live shows. Decorated with ellipses, capital letters and exclamation marks, the book has a zingy beatnik energy ... the book never drags. It is animated by Springsteen’s relationship with his silent, brooding, drunken, unpredictably violent father Doug ... Rock’s premier action hero has written a brave and engrossing memoir.
If you are a Springsteen fan, you will not spend an instant wondering if this book was ghostwritten: It is eager, hammy, yearning, unmistakable, and inimitable Bruce from start to finish ... But one of the book’s most unexpected pleasures is Springsteen’s willingness to pick apart the kind of masculinity — the cars, the perspective on girls, the making of the man — to which he has been so firmly attached in our imagination ... Springsteen is unashamed to explore, from a perspective of whiteness and maleness, his impressions of race and gender ... a celebration and an elegy all at once.
The potential for maudlin sentimentality is great. But Springsteen keeps the tone relatively breezy and conversational. The voice in this book is a more confiding version of the one heard on stage. It is self-deprecating and sometimes withering in its honesty, especially when judging himself ... This memoir is not about settling scores or assessing blame. Instead, Springsteen tries to understand his father, and by extension, himself. Once he realizes this, he finds a kind of peace.
The origin of poetry, thought William Wordsworth, was emotion recollected in tranquillity. That motto describes both Mr Springsteen’s memoir and the appeal of his songs ... That transformation of the particular into the universal, experience into art, is also a spell that turns difference into compassion. It is a lesson in empathy for artists of all kinds, and not only artists.
[Springsteen's] narrative gift is on glorious display in Born to Run, a philosophically rich ramble through a rock ‘n' roll life ... Reading his intimate look back on a remarkable yet troubled life, it’s safe to say that Bruce’s aesthetic wouldn’t be complete without this long-form Song of Springsteen. It’s the lyric he was born to write.
Among the surprises in this beautifully written, open-hearted memoir is how thoroughly it covers the distance between Springsteen’s ingrained image of stolid emotional (and physical) muscularity and the reality of his experience ... Springsteen’s lifetime of struggle to come to terms with his father is a dominant theme of his memoir, and the passages of narrative and rumination on the subject are the most powerful sections of the book ... Born to Run, like its subject, is smart, ambitious, and mesmerizing, but uneven—diminished, though not terminally, by a current of self-satisfaction running below its Jersey-boy humility.
While tales of his subsequent professional life can be less vibrant than those depicting his early struggles, Springsteen’s prose comes alive whenever he writes about his relationships with loved ones ... both an entertaining account of Springsteen’s marathon race to the top and a reminder that the one thing you can’t run away from is yourself.
This is the greatest triumph of Born to Run — that Springsteen captures in autobiography the same lyricism he does with songwriting. On the matter of those demons, he is less successful. But the way he describes the battle is so beautifully written that Born to Run is a prize among rock autobiographies.
Springsteen’s book is the written equivalent of one of his legendarily lengthy stage shows. It’s a massive tome that will never be long enough for the fans (and probably seem a bit indulgent to naysayers), but carefully orchestrated to deliver rising and falling action, quiet moments of reflection and explosive passages of excitement, all laid out with the come-hither exhortations of a born performer ... His voice comes across honest and self-deprecating, but it’s illuminating what he breezes past or leaves unsaid, and those spots shape his narrative just as much as his intimately recounted stories.
...[a] warmly confessional autobiography ... page after page of this generous memoir really brings home the psychic burdens young Bruce endured growing up in his hard-scrabble hometown of Freehold, New Jersey ... The book is light on dirt and dish that could anchor a headline, but it’s loaded with revealing anecdotes.
The book is an affirmation that, along with his musical brilliance and matchless performance skills, the man is a terrific storyteller and writer ... Much more than most celebrity autobiographies, this one has a distinctive voice, and one that bears a wide range of literary influences.
Born To Run surprises and compels. Its author reveals a psychological depth and vulnerability that is brave for a star of his magnitude ... He understands the demons that bedevil American culture not merely as an empathic fellow traveler, but on an intimate, lived level. When it comes to issues of race and gender, Bruce sometimes stumbles on the page, but he’s a man on a quest for understanding ... In this moving memoir, the Boss pulls back the curtains of the myth-making machinery and shows that for him, the political is personal ... Bruce writes like he talks. There are colorful characters, embarrassing details, and a moral as punch line at every climactic finale. He’s a smart guy, a well-read autodidact with a driving intellect, but he tends to write in capital letters rather than big words. He’s not always so good at deconstructing the big picture, but his aim is true.
...revelatory, instructive, moving and, at times, very funny ... Like the haiku moments in so many of his songs, his prose can connect any reader to deeper ideas and feelings by making the personal seem universal ... It’s that revelatory power of music that his fans find in so many of his songs, and that readers in general will enjoy in his autobiography ... Bruce’s autobiography, like the best of his songs, is borne of his commitment to connect with his audience.
There are two areas where this memoir digs deeper than any biography has, and there have been many. One is Springsteen's fractured and troubled relationship with his father...The other is in the frank discussion of his decades in therapy and his bouts with depression and anxiety ... Springsteen has an insight into his life and career and a skill at conveying it that even the best biographer could not have.
Like his music, Springsteen's writing is earnest, often to the point of cheesiness; like his music, it's redeemed by how much he believes in his message ... Born to Run shows us just how directly Springsteen's music emerges from his life; in doing so, it provides a hefty clue as to why so many of his fans have brought Springsteen into theirs.