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Racing in the Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader Paperback – April 6, 2004


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Racing in the Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader + Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen's American Vision + Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. (33 1/3)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (April 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142003549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142003541
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thirty years after Springsteen's first album, numerous books have been published about his rise from Bob Dylan-style acoustic folkie to the raging rocker of Born in the U.S.A. and the working-class hero of The Ghost of Tom Joad. But hardcore Springsteen fans-this volume's clear target audience-can't seem to read enough about their hero, and this collection's many fascinating observations should deeply satisfy them. Sawyers (Celtic Music: A Complete Guide) collects a wide range of articles about Springsteen from all stages of his career to show "his enormous facility for growth." Some of the best of these are groundbreaking essays from the 1970s by Peter Knobler of Crawdaddy and the late Lester Bangs of Creem, as well as Time and Newsweek's simultaneous 1975 cover stories after the release of Springsteen's Born to Run. What these articles offer are specific musical descriptions of Springsteen's ability, as noted by Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone, to encapsulate "20 years of rock & roll tradition." However, the bulk of the essays are solely concerned with Springsteen's progression in his lyrics from early descriptions of characters of the "street and boardwalk subcultures" in his native New Jersey to later looks at those characters' lost hopes and dreams. As Sawyers notes in her engaging introduction, Springsteen undertakes "an ongoing exploration, via popular song, of the very heart of the American psyche."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Bruce Springsteen is often touted as an heir to Woody Guthrie's legacy as a songwriter who stood up for the downtrodden. That aspect of the enormously successful musician's career is pointed out time and time again in this eclectic collection of material, which includes concert and record reviews, interviews, poetry, novel excerpts, short stories, and essays from academic journals. Divided into three parts ("Growin' Up," "Glory Days," and "Rebirth") and including maps of the singer's hometown as well as a discography, career time line, and laudatory foreword by Martin Scorsese, the wealth of judiciously selected material provides a vivid portrait of the New Jersey native and his working-class roots. From the straight-ahead reportage of established rock journalists such as Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs to the evocative fictional excerpts of T. Coraghessan Boyle and Tom Perrotta to articles from local New Jersey newspapers, this is a remarkably atmospheric reckoning of a major contemporary artist. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jim Mitchell on May 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
How many people do you know who like Bruce Springsteen? If you're like me, probably not very many. Most people cite their dislike of his voice, or find him to be too intense, or don't find his melodies to be that memorable. That's fine- that's their loss after all- but it's not necessarily congruent with the critical praise steeped upon Springsteen. I've always known that Bruce has been a longtime critical darling for Rolling Stone- he doesn't get as much coverage nowdays (he doesn't do that much nowdays to warrant coverage), but back in the 70s and 80s, Bruce could absolutely do no wrong, and was voted "artist of the year" an unprecedented number of times in the mid 80s. Those writings are collected in the Rolling Stone Files anthology, to which this book is an essential companion. If anything, this book has more substance than the RS book, since many of its selections place Bruce's music in its social context. While I know that Bruce is a wonderful guy, I'm not terribly interested in reading about endless fawning over him or how great he is in concert- I know that or else I wouldn't be seeking out written material about him. There's certainly some element to that in this book, but many of the articles are well-written reflections on the meaning of his music and on the social and political influences that inspire and shape it. My favorite is the Lester Bangs review of early Bruce- the music seems to have knocked this rather pretentious (but wonderful) critic down a few notches closer to earth. I also enjoy some of the ficiton writings that contain prominent mentions of Springsteen's music. So for some well-written but well-grounded commentary and reflections on Springsteen's music and the society that inspired him, "Racing in the Street" is an excellent, highly readable anthology that doesn't numb you with syrupy praise but also doesn't burn you out with cynicism and lofty music criticism.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "pitman2" on April 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful collection of articles, interviews, and reviews on Bruce that span the years from many different perspectives-fans, historians of music, culture, etc. The wide variety of authors shows how Bruce's music touches so many different people. Even if you have other Springsteen-themed books you should not be without this one. Since the editors of Rolling Stone have already compiled their Bruce material in "Bruce Springsteen: The Rolling Stone Files" you won't find any of it here. In addition to the excellent articles there is also a bibliography of most, if not all, of the articles ever written on Springsteen including those which weren't included in this volume. Probably the only negative about the book, and it is not the author's fault, was his inability to get permission to include John Landau's famous Real Paper column regarding "rock and roll future..."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By LaDeBoBo on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book provides wonderful, informative articles that offer various perceptions of the Boss and his 30+ year career!!! I learned so much about how other people see Bruce, and gained knowledge about his life and work, which was very enjoyable. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the Boss and wants to gain more insight into his long and amazing career. The maps, discography, timeline, and other extras were also brilliant additions to the collection!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas T. Trulis on February 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Racing In The Street is not so much a great biography about Bruce.

It goes much deeper.

It is a series of very insightful articles pinpointing the appeal Bruce has for so many of his fans.

He is a mega star but it is his struggle to remain normal and humble that is at the heart of this book.

For the casual fan, If you truly want to know why his fans are so intense, this is the book to read.

For his fans that have always tried to figure out why we are so intense, this book puts all that into perspective better than any other.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Art Turner on April 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed the majority of the pieces in June Skinner Sawyers' Racing In The Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader. Highlights for me include Martin Scorese's (brief) foreward (always figured he was a fan) and, of all things, the excerpts from one Kevin Major's young adult novel Dear Bruce Springsteen, in which my favorite passage in the collection occurs:

"I knew he [the young narrator's father] was into your music a lot. He never listened to it much in the house, mostly when he was driving the old van we used to have. Mostly then by himself. The four of us were in the van once and he put on Nebraska. Mom made him take it off because, she said, it sounded too depressing. He sort of grunted something about she didn't know what good music was and popped out the tape. She said if you're going to spend money we can't afford on music, then you might as well spend it on something that'll cheer you up. He ignored her."

Now tell me - is there a Bruce fan alive that can't relate to that?

Though I would have liked to have seen Tama Janowitz' "You And The Boss" and Richard Meltzer's "The Meaning of Bruce" (both collected in Clinton Heylin's Penguin Book Of Rock & Roll Writing, if you're interested) included for balance, this is a solid anthology of writings on Bruce, and recommended if you're a fan.

PS Also recommended if you're a fan of great music writing (or great writing, period): Lester Bangs' Psychotic Reactions And Carburetor Dung and Mainlines, Blood Feasts, And Bad Taste.
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