Peter Carlin's Bruce

I figured out what was bugging me about the book when Carlin tries to defend the cut on Springsteen’s Magic album, “Queen of the Supermarket”. The author kind of argues throughout that Springsteen still relates to his working class roots, that he’s able to summon up the tough times memories whenever he needs them and that to some degree he hasn’t really changed. Then, discussing “Queen”, Springsteen discloses that he felt like he’d entered some kind of fantasy land when he went into a supermarket after not having been in one for a long time. A working class guy who is taken by surprise by a supermarket?
Surprising too that Springsteen tried to low ball the E Street band members when he decided to get the band back together. It’s arguable that Bruce would not have succeeded without that band and those otherworldly live shows, of which the band was as integral as the Boss. So why aren’t those guys on a retainer regardless of Bruce’s mid career crisis? (And having seen the shows with the session musician band, I can tell you that they in no way measured up to any E Street show.) The E Streeters are the most simpatico rock ’n roll musicians in any band I’ve ever seen, so I was pretty taken aback to read that they weren’t held in higher esteem by the band leader. Those guys were not replaceable parts, and they also had gone through the dark, tough times with Bruce, stood by him and unreservedly supported him. Couldn’t help but feel like they deserved better.
Even more surprised by the relationship between Bruce and Miami Steve Van Zandt. I always figured they were kind of joined at the hip, but Van Zandt didn’t work with Springsteen nearly as much as I had assumed.
In light of all that, the band members still came running when Bruce called. I guess it’s impossible to resist the chance to play in that kind of a live band - and I can totally relate to that. Springsteen is the most dynamic performer of his generation, and the combination of smart, relevant songs and the transcendent connection he makes with an audience is enough for any musician to want to come on board.
Really appreciated the descriptions of Springsteen’s ambivalence and insecurities around the recordings and whether or not the albums were working as a whole while they put them together.
Funnily enough, just as I finished reading the book
Rolling Stone ran an interview with Ron Aniello who is the producer of Springsteen’s upcoming album “High Hopes”. Aniello says several times that he’s not sure he can talk about this or that. Clearly there are fairly severe restrictions imposed by the boss regarding what can and can’t be discussed. Makes me wonder how open people really were - especially the musicians and crew whose livelihoods are at stake - when it came to discussing Bruce with Carlin.