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This week in history: the birth of Bruce Springsteen

Turning 67 on 23rd September, Bruce Springsteen is about to release his autobiography, tipped to earn perhaps the highest ever pay-out for a music memoir. The lead up to Born to Run has seen the musician open up about his struggle with depression and pay tribute to his working-class, New Jersey roots.

Famous for their marathon performances, Springsteen and the E Street Band recently treated a crowd to four hours, three minutes and 46 seconds of vibrant energy in Philadelphia. The band have drawn upon 40 years’ worth of material to indulge their hugely loyal fan-base in over 75 shows in their most recent tour. With this continuing success, Ian Chapman of Simon & Schuster UK, who will publish Born to Run, has described the musician as ‘a captivating storyteller with a unique way of expressing himself.’

Springsteen had a difficult childhood; a tense relationship with his father made his passion for music unwelcome at home. Despite a lonely journey through school, his mother’s gift of a $60 Kent guitar allowed the young, Elvis-inspired Springsteen to meet other musicians and begin performing in Asbury Park. By the early 1970s, Springsteen and the E Street Band were building their reputation and received critical acclaim for their debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park.

Springsteen’s third album, Born to Run, launched the musicians into stardom. Their most famous song from this album, which shares the title, made it into the top 40 and still closes their performances today. Even though they’ve never had a number one hit, their albums and live concerts feature songs that just haven’t grown old. As said by Springsteen himself, ‘A good song gathers the years in. It’s why you can sing it with such conviction 40 years after it’s been written.’

Despite a rocky road over the years, Springsteen’s wife, Patti, has supported the singer throughout the highs and the lows. His struggle with depression following the release of the album Wrecking Ball in 2012 has prompted reflection on the history of mental health in his family, which was viewed as mysterious and embarrassing in his youth. Talking about his depression has, according to Farber, ‘enhanced’ Springsteen, but his distinctive voice, the truths within his songwriting and his career has spoken hugely as well, reaching out to all who listen.

Image: Christopher Sikich

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