E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band, by Clinton Heylen
Release date January 7, 2013
Friday afternoon in Cleveland, WMMS on the radio, 5:00 comes around as the opening cords of Born to Run sound. It’s the weekend. I knew that the weekend started all through the late 1970s and early 80s because The Boss was playing, Cleveland’s patron saint of rock and roll. Even today, the 80s are long gone, WMMS died and was reborn, Cleveland is long gone for me, but still as I ride into my weekend every week with Born to Run as the first song on my playlist.
E Street Shuffle is a history of Bruce Springsteen and not so much the ever changing East Street Band. Heylin covers Springsteen’s up bringing in a less than perfect blue collar environment which many long time fans will appreciate. For others, this book is a good history of Springsteen and younger readers may be surprised to know that Springsteen’s professional music career predates Born in the USA by more than a decade.
Followers of Springsteen familiar with “The Promise” will recognize the detailed history of the events between Springsteen and Appel. Heylin also covers the giving music to Patti Smith, Natalie Cole, and Gary US Bonds. Great detail is given to the making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, and the struggles to make Nebraska and Born in the USA. The painful process of song writing and making an album for Springsteen differs greatly Keith Richard’s protrays it in Life.
There is something to learn for just about everyone. As a fan of both, I was surprised to learn that Patti Smith snubbed Springsteen on several occasions in New York. Darkness of the Edge of Town is portrayed much differently than I remember the album, one of my favorites It is surprising the tremendous amount of music that Springsteen had for his albums and all the new music created while trying to cut a new album. The book is a very detailed account of the rise of Springsteen through Born in the USA.
The writing style is clear and concise. Although not individual cited in the text, there is a detailed bibliography. There are also quoted sections inserted into the text that provide support and first hand description of the events. Heylin also mentions the the other rockers in the era that were Springsteen’s peers: Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, The New York Dolls. Important players in pulling American rock music up from the disco era. Minor complaints come from sneaking song lyrics as part of the text, it may seem clever to some to use song lyrics as your own text, I found it a bit too much. The chapter titles, however are great “Songs About Cars and Girls” and “Something in the Night”. Also an index would be a nice addition to the book (which may be included in the final edition). All an all an excellent, in depth book.