‘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
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.