April 2nd 2017

Simon & Schusterborn-to-run-9781501141515_hr
Reviewed by Poppa Mike
RRP $40

Having read many books about people’s lives, I found myself becoming a bit ho hum so often, memoirs full of facts and figures, massaging egos, name dropping, an almanac of dates, scores more designed for the record books than a brain stimulating, ‘damn good read.’ So it was I first sat down with this sizeable tome. What, no photos? This could be hard work I initially thought. I was parked up in a DoC camping ground on the West Coast when I first made a start on the book and by evening, as the light faded, I realised I had not stopped all afternoon and was now halfway through. What an interesting man with an interesting approach to telling his life story; a very perceptive and analytical way, with carefully chosen words and many clever passages from the heart of the writer, in much the same way as artists in other fields display special qualities. It took him seven years to complete the book. It’s easy to see why.
Growing up a Catholic in New Jersey sets the foundation for his later successes, for life in his neighbourhood presented much darkness and many challenges. “I was reticent and would remain so, but I needed to find out what I had. Forty years later I did not want to be sitting in my rocking chair on a Sunday afternoon with the, woulda, shoulda, coulda blues. All I could think of was my dad covered in a cloak of cigarette smoke lamenting he could’ve taken that job with the phone company but would’ve had to travel. So instead, it was lights-out, the blues, beer, and resenting his own family for what he thought he might’ve accomplished. Dead meat.”His drive to become a successful musician with a successful band and hit songs drove him relentlessly. His strategy throughout was the 1+1=3 approach, making something extra special, when you add something on! Much of the book is about the people and the ways he achieved such successes. As soon as I got home from my camping trip, I headed for my vinyl collection from the 60’s and 70’s and put on Born To Run, his first big breakthrough moment. Then it was time to pick up the book again – in doing so I suddenly realised why there are no photographs throughout the script, as there is no need for them. His words say it all for our minds to visualise and our brains to digest his amazing achievements. As I finish writing this, I regret not having booked for one of his concerts in late February at either Auckland or Christchurch. Of course he will be up front getting all the praise and applause but please read this book before you attend, then you will realise the concert is thanks to his father (Dead Meat), the many musicians that have gone before, his E Street band, the lessons along the way, and the magic formula, as well as his many hours of practice and persistence. What a read. What a man!