To some degree or another, we all inherit our parents’ pain. They inherited their parents’ pain, and their parents inherited their parents’ pain, and so on. It’s our emotional DNA. The question is what we do with it. We might do any number of things. If we are lucky enough to find something we’re passionate about, we might design buildings or create stunning artwork. We might spend long hours supporting a family or trying to help students write more coherently. In his memoir BORN TO RUN, Bruce Springsteen lays bare what he did. Music has been his passion and his salvation.
For anyone contemplating a career as a rock star, Springsteen’s life story makes clear that such a path is not something you pursue lightly. His difficult relationship with his father turned his fascination with music into an obsession, and once he realized that writing songs and performing gave him an outlet and a way to make sense of his life, nothing could stop him. He might be a multimillionaire now, but for many years he barely scraped by. At various points, he slept on other people’s floors or on the beach. He was never going to have an ordinary day job. From the beginning, he was all in.
Springsteen’s 500-plus page memoir reveals not only the back story of his musicianship—what it’s like trying to produce an album, what certain concerts felt like, where specific songs came from, how he and the E Street Band came together and broke up and came together—but also his long and still-ongoing journey toward personal growth. The son of a man who suffered from mental illness, drank, and took his anger out on his family, Springsteen writes openly of how he came to a point in his life when he fell apart and sought help from a therapist to figure out how to put himself back together. He spent decades in therapy, and while he still suffers from bouts of depression, the wisdom he derived from that work is apparent in the insights he shares about his relationships with his parents, his wife (and ex-wife), and his children.
This book is about Bruce Springsteen, of course. But it’s also more universal than that. It’s about what we all do with the hands we’re dealt. Bruce has played an amazing hand. And with this book, he invites us to reflect on our own.