Bruce Springsteen

American Poet and Prophet

By (author) Donald L. Deardorff II

Hardback - £42.00

Publication date:

01 December 2013

Length of book:

218 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810884267

Tempo: A Scarecrow Press Music Series on Rock, Pop, and Culture offers titles that explore rock and popular music through the lens of social and cultural history, revealing the dynamic relationship between musicians, music, and their milieu. Like other major art forms, rock and pop music comment on their cultural, political, and even economic situation, reflecting technological advances, psychological concerns, religious feelings, and artistic trends of the times. Like other major musical artists, Bruce Springsteen’s work has reflected, revealed, and reacted to modern American realities over the course of his forty-year career.

Since releasing his first record in 1973, Springsteen has sold more than a hundred million albums worldwide, played thousands of concerts, and won Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy, and Academy awards. More importantly, however, he is one of the few twentieth-century singer-songwriters to serve as the voice of his generation, a defining artist whose works reflect the values, dreams, and concerns of many Americans. In
Bruce Springsteen: American Poet and Prophet, Donald L. Deardorff II explores the works of “The Boss,” defining the exact nature of Springsteen’s cultural influence.

With the release of seventeen studio albums, Springsteen’s influence and popularity spans multiple generations. Deardorff classifies and explains Springsteen’s remarkable reception as it evolved from small beginnings in the Jersey shore bars of the 1970s to worldwide fame today. This book thoughtfully considers the trenchant commentary Springsteen’s albums make on the mythology of the American Dream, working-class concerns, the changing character of American masculinity, the relationship between Americans and their government, the importance of social justice, and the evocation of an American spirit.

Bruce Springsteen: American Poet and Prophet will appeal to more than just Springsteen fans. It describes Springsteen as an apt critic of his own culture, whose music paints literary portraits that uncover the realities of an American society constantly evolving, while striving toward its own betterment.
Much like many of the artists who inspired him (Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger), Springsteen is not only viewed as a musician but also a 'poet for his times.' Deardorff, after quickly covering Springsteen’s life story, explores the evolution of the major themes in the Boss’s music, from feelings of exile, working-class struggles, and romantic explorations to government corruption, social justice, and redemption. A professor of American literature and criticism, Deardorff brings an academic style to not only the prose ('This questioning should lead to active protest, which can lift the veil of false consciousness'), but also to the dissection of lyrics in songs such as 'Blinded by the Light.' Deardorff’s last chapter, however, offers an interesting take on artists who have been influenced by Springsteen (Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire), which is not only a fitting coda to an exploration of Bruce’s cultural influence but also a solid primer for fans looking to glimpse the future of rock ’n’ roll.