‘Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ explores the Boss as artist/political figure

If you happen to be in the Boston area on Wednesday at 7 p.m., you can go see Marc Dolan interviewed by Metro's own Pat Healy at Porter Square Books (25 White St., Cambridge). Then stick around to watch a performance by Uke Springsteen, which may or may not also be Pat Healy, playing Boss songs and dressing a little like this.

Marc Dolan doesn’t concern himself too much with the dirty details of Bruce Springsteen’s private life. The author instead takes an unusually scholarly approach to the Boss in his new book, “Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ‘N’ Roll” (W.W. Norton and Company).

Dolan, a professor at John Jay College and the City University of New York, listened to more than 100 full concerts for clues to piece together the 50-year artistic and political evolution of his subject — but finishing it proved a little difficult.

“I started the book before the last two chapters happened, which, looking back, is an insane leap of faith,” says Dolan. “As I was working on the drafts, the ending became a moving target.”

His subject is anything but static. In the span of three years, the singer jumped from “Devils & Dust,” a dark solo album, to “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” a rollicking folk album, to “Magic” a rock album that brought back his E Street Band. Though he spent seven years on this book, with the amount of recent Boss activity, Dolan never seemed to have his “sick of sitting here trying to write this book” moment. In the past year, not only did E Street legend Clarence Clemons pass away, but Springsteen also announced his new “Wrecking Ball” album.

“The Onion, before the new album was announced, did a parody thing about how Springsteen was coming out with a science-fiction album about workers on Mars and how they’ve been marginalized. I posted on Facebook that, ‘A) This is very funny B) For a split second I thought I had to re-write the last chapter.’”

Dolan says the book wasn’t exactly an easy sell for publishers, when they learned that he would be exploring Springsteen’s place in American culture, and not salacious rumors.  

“I had to convince the sales staff at the press,” says Dolan. “When I was writing it up, I said, [it’s really] a love story between an artist and his audience. Part 1: Artist meets audience. Part 2: Artist and audience have some good times together. Part 3: Artist and audience break up, seemingly over politics, but actually over communication, which is the problem with any relationship. Part 4: They come back together with a renewed understanding of how they relate to each other.”

The Boss ain’t always perfect

Throughout the nearly 500 pages of “The Promise of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Dolan treats his subject with respect, but he isn’t overly gentle.

“There was that astonishing moment from the winter of 1971, where he really went from being a horrible songwriter to being a brilliant songwriter in the space of three months,” says Dolan, bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t legally allowed to quote some of these hilariously bad lyrics, because they were never published.

So what is one he would have quoted?

“The worst line, I almost have PTSD and blanked it out, but I’d say it comes from ‘The War Is Over,’” laughs Dolan.

A sample lyric: “Today the new court jester has arrived/And he’ll tell you funny stories and dance a bit after/And help the king forget the revolution outside.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…