Reviewed by HeadButler
There's one in every crowd --- the kid who knows all about music. He makes the best mix tapes. He tells you about the concerts you must see. And he can talk about the music he loves in a way that makes you want to do nothing more than slam his favorite in your CD and crank it way up.
Jimmy Guterman is that guy, and Bruce Springsteen is his expertise, and the good news is that he's no pedant --- "Runaway American Dream" is just his side of the conversation he'd have with you over a beer. His theme is meaning: what it is about Springsteen's songs that makes them matter, decade after decade. His method is radical; mostly, he considers concerts and looks at how Bruce paints a self-portrait over the course of an evening. (And, yes, he's been going to Springsteen concerts almost from the beginning of Bruce's career.)
Guterman is both wonderfully enthusiastic ("the most exciting segue ever on a rock 'n roll record") and blissfully objective ("he hasn't changed much in the more than 30 years since he started recording"). And he is shrewd: The title phrase, "Runaway American dream," speaks to "both the optimism...and the less pleasant reality of a dream gone awry."
Springsteen is, Guterman notes, "a multimillionaire guitar player" who goes back to "a five-star hotel" after every concert. In these pages, he shows us why we never think that, why we see our battles as his, and why, after all the hoopla, there's still a lot about Springsteen to excite and inspire us. The pages fly by like a guitar solo that you could stand to hear more of.
--- by Jesse Kornbluth, for HeadButler.com
Copyright 2005 by Head Butler Inc.