‘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

New Apple devices include default kill switch

By Marina LopesWASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Apple Inc phones include a theft deterrent system that enables users to lock their devices and wipe them clean…

National

PHOTO: Photographer comes face-to-face with deadly crocodile

A deadly crocodile comes face-to-face with a courageous photographer, who manages to take a set of jaw-dropping pictures of the teeth-baring reptile.

Local

Brooklyn packed for annual West Indian Day Parade

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway was packed Monday with an estimated one million people showing up on Labor Day to celebrate West Indian culture.

Local

James Michael Tyler on Gunther, Central Perk and…

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Going Out

Where to eat and drink during Oktoberfest in…

Paulaner In the Bowery, this Bavarian restaurant/brewery will start the celebrations at 8 p.m. Saturday with the premiere of master brewer Andreas Heidenreich’s Oktoberfest brew.…

Going Out

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest in NYC

Germany is a land of contradictions — is there an explanation for how the same country produced lederhosen and Rammstein? But they all managed to agree…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this weekend, Sept.…

BEHIND THE SCENES New York on Location Sept. 21, 11 a.m. Kaufman Astoria Studios 36 Street between 34 and 35 avenues, Astoria Free, www.movingimage.us Have…

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend,…

Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival Sept. 18-22, various times The Bell House, 149 Seventh St. Union Hall, 702 Union St. $10-$20, www.eugenemirmancomedyfestival.com In addition to the usual…

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson,…

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson, Donald Brown

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…

Career

Here's why the newly-crowned Miss America deleted her…

Miss America pageant winner Kira Kazantsev quietly deleted her LinkedIn profile this week after her work history came under attack by conservative critics. Many of the…

Career

Zosia Mamet explains why leaning in is not…

Zosia Mamet is living proof that even if you don't think you can get a job you're going for, you should still try. Along with…