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The Gospel according to Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Redemption, from Asbury Park to Magic Paperback – June 16, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: The Gospel according to...
  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; First Edition edition (June 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664231691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664231699
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, a driver rolled down his window and shouted to Bruce Springsteen, We need you—now! A few days later Springsteen appeared as part of a telethon to help victims' families, and not long after released The Rising, with Into the Fire as a tribute to the lost firefighters. It wasn't the first or last time America would need the Boss—his support kept the Vietnam Veterans of America from disbanding, and his social critique since 9/11 has been loud in its protest of the Iraq War. According to Symynkywicz, Born in the USA is not only Springsteen's greatest album, it represents the ambiguity of his gospel, his lover's quarrel with an America he loves and fumes against. Symynkywicz explores these theological and political questions with the deftness of a Harvard-trained minister and a great Springsteen fan. He has clearly pored over these lyrics, multilayered as they are, and sifted them through a theological filter. At times he offers a bit too much detail. Other times you'll want to stop reading, turn on the Boss and dance in the dark, maybe even praying while you do. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, a driver rolled down his window and shouted to Bruce Springsteen, We need you now! A few days later Springsteen appeared as part of a telethon to help victims' families, and not long after released The Rising, with Into the Fire as a tribute to the lost firefighters. It wasn't the first or last time America would need the Boss his support kept the Vietnam Veterans of America from disbanding, and his social critique since 9/11 has been loud in its protest of the Iraq War. According to Symynkywicz, Born in the USA is not only Springsteen's greatest album, it represents the ambiguity of his gospel, his lover's quarrel with an America he loves and fumes against. Symynkywicz explores these theological and political questions with the deftness of a Harvard-trained minister and a great Springsteen fan. He has clearly pored over these lyrics, multilayered as they are, and sifted them through a theological filter. At times he offers a bit too much detail. Other times you'll want to stop reading, turn on the Boss and dance in the dark, maybe even praying while you do. (June) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Peter Chianca on August 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
Casual fans -- the ones who haven't shelled out cash money for a Springsteen album since "Born in the U.S.A." -- need not apply for "The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen." They would probably find Jeffrey B. Symynkywicz's album-by-album, almost song-by-song evaluation of Springsteen's work from a spiritual perspective to be almost maddeningly comprehensive and, at times, just plain kooky: Who thinks this much about this stuff?

But for those of us who do think this much about this stuff -- we know who we are -- this detailed, thoughtful analysis is a welcome and thought-provoking look at the words of an important artist whose work has and continues to resonate on a spiritual level.

If there's an underlying philosophy that Symynkywicz points to in Springsteen's work, it's that we have to bring our own "love and joy" to our lives. "Nothing will change if we put all our hopes for salvation outside of ourselves," Symynkywicz writes, "if we waste the whole summer waiting `for a savior to rise from these streets.'"

There's a fair amount of lyrical analysis, some of it fairly obvious to anyone who's listened to these songs carefully (meaning most people who'd be interested in this book). But more interesting, to me at least, were Symynkywicz's looks at the underlying religious implications of some of the songs, including references to scripture. The allusions are intriguing, and make you want to listen to these songs again, either to try to hear what Symynkywicz hears or to dismiss it as a lot of hooey.

That's most true in the book's section on "The Rising," one of Springsteen's most spiritual albums.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Judith Jones on August 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a seminary grad, I have long been interested in the intersection between faith and popular culture. And as a confessed long-time diehard Springsteen fan, I found myself nodding in agreement with much of this book, as the music of Bruce Springsteen has certainly been a part of my own spiritual journey. Music has the power to move us viscerally, and there are times when the right song at the right moment articulates that which is too deep for us to verbalize ourseleves. Many others have noted the explicit religious references in Springsteen's body of work; he himself has admitted in recent years how his Catholic upbringing has shaped his worldview and permeated his music. But Symynkywicz offers deeper analysis and new insights grounded in sound theology and presented in an engaging style. The book would also lend itself to use in small group discussion for both the casual listener and the devoted fan.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Fontaine on August 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading this book, and will soon go out and buy several more copies for friends and relatives-- longtime Springsteen fans and newcomers alike. Symynkwicz does an excellent job of laying out before us in a clear and coherent manner so many of the themes that we always knew were there in Bruce's work-- themes like hope, redemption, the power of love, and the yearning for social justice and real patriotism. Because this book is so well organized, one album at a time, and because the author lays out the lyrics and main ideas of particular songs so clearly, it can be used both by those who have an expert's knowledge of everything Springsteen has written, as well as those who might just be curious, or just passing fans. The book also is a nice balance between the popular and the scholarly, and a nice blend of Springsteen's ideas and the author's. It's full of very interesting & pithy insights that will get the reader thinking further into the meaning in Bruce's wonderful lyrics.
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Format: Paperback
Let me start by explaining what this book is NOT: It's not written by Springsteen. There's no new set of interviews with him at the core of this book. There's no music CD. It's not part of the publicity for a new album.

Now, let me explain what this IS and why it's a gift to all of us from the author, a Harvard-educated scholar of religion who is pastor of a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Massachusetts: This book is a spiritual memoir of living with Springsteen's music as part of our spiritual soundtrack for a third of a century.

You probably can sing some of his songs without accompaniment and, when certain songs pop up unexpectedly, they evoke all sorts of memories, don't they?

This book invites us to walk with the author through all those years with Springsteen -- one album after another -- and contemplate his spiritual insights and how they connect with our lives to this day.

It ends with a fascinating Ten Commandments (suggestions really) of Springsteen's gospel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Renee Ramirez on February 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
This was a Christmas gift for my sister in law but she loved it and I would rate this book as a great buy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Average Joe on August 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a pretty lightweight analysis of the deeper themes of Bruce Springsteen's songs. His exploration of the songs would seem to be on par with an average college essay. Some of the song discussions are only a sentence or two long, and many times the author fails to go in-depth in his interpretations of the songs. For example, how could someone who writes a book exploring spiritual themes (especially one who is a minister) fail to recognize the symbolism of rebirth through water in "The River"? This will be a disappointing book for anyone who wants more than a Cliff's Notes analysis of Springsteen's works.
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