The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen provides a comprehensive and coherent look at the work of a thoroughly complex and persistently captivating artist. Springsteen enjoys a popularity that has transcended generations. His 1975 album Born to Run was voted the most popular album of all time in a recently published Zagat survey; his 1984 album Born in the U.S.A. spawned seven Top Ten singles while selling more than 20 million copies; and his 2002 album The Rising was regarded by many critics as the most poignant artistic reaction to 9/11. Springsteen, now in his 50s, has evolved from an over-hyped version of the next Bob Dylan, to the future of rock and roll in the mid-1970s, to a pop culture icon in Reagan America, to a 21st-century populist voice. His career has been covered many times over, yet many of the complexities and apparent contradictions of his music remain unresolved. These include his hard-rock influenced musical background; his movement from themes of rebellion and isolation in his early work to those of a more populist complexion later on; and his contribution in the 1980s to a conservative patriotism--despite his albums' close association with the music and ideas of Woody Guthrie.
After a brief biographical treatment, Kirkpatrick considers all of Springsteen's significant albums in chronological order. In addition to this probing musical analysis, he offers a guide to Springsteen's lyrical themes and motifs, allowing readers a coherent insight into the complicated nature of the artist's underlying concerns, influences, and ideas. Rounding out the volume is a consideration of The Boss's legacy as a songwriter and musician, as well as appendices including a bibliography and a complete discography. In sum, The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen provides a comprehensive and coherent look, previously unavailable in a single volume, at the work of a thoroughly complex and persistently captivating artist.