Over the course of a career now in its fourth decade, Bruce Springsteen has earned one of the most passionate, devoted followings in all rock &'n' roll. He's selling more records and concert tickets in his fifties than he sold in his twenties. Yet to many fans he remains an enigma. How has Springsteen produced such a consistent body of work and retained his currency while other top rock 'n' rollers have gone by the wayside? Jimmy Guterman, an accessible and entertaining music writer, has been writing about Springsteen since the late 1970s. In Runaway American Dream, he delves deep into dramatic and crucial moments from every phase of Springsteen's career, interpreting the songs and incisively commenting on the man and the culture at large to deliver a nuanced portrait of The Boss from the earliest days right up to Springsteen's 2005 album, Devils & Dust.
Now in his 50s, the Boss, aka Bruce Springsteen, is selling more records and concert tickets than he did in his 20s proving his fans' admiration runs deep. Editor and journalist Guterman (coauthor of The Worst Rock-and-Roll Records of All Time) poignantly expresses his own love of the man and his music in this warm, absorbing collection of seven essays. He takes readers through a song-by-song analysis of Springsteen recordings and concerts going back to the 1970s. He weighs the relative merits of song selection, concert length and venue, and duly notes the comings and goings of various band mates, wives and girlfriends. Yet for all his admiration, Guterman doesn't get lost in minutiae or mired in nostalgia. He chattily discusses such topics as the shift in Springsteen's music starting with Born to Run, as it became more traditional, mainstream "white rock'n'roll"; and Springsteen's uneasy back-and-forth between "pure artistic statements" like Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad and more "frankly commercial enterprises" like Born in the U.S.A. With subtle wit, real emotion and exactly the right combination of journalistic street smarts and music fan geekiness, Guterman has scored a success.