#41 Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen by Marc Eliot

This book, written “with the assistance” of embittered former Springsteen manager Mike Appel, is an interesting early career history of The Boss, although it does tend to focus on the struggle amongst Appel, Springsteen, Jon Landau and Columbia Records to control the cash cow which was mid-to-late 1970’s Springsteen music.

The book is interesting for its view of a very naive young Bruce, signing one bad business deal after another and later having to reap the consequences of same. I do give Eliot and Appel credit for not slamming Springsteen entirely. Most of Appel’s scorn is resolved for Jon Landau, who he definitely seems to paint as the Yoko Ono of 1975 Springsteen (although mercifully without the nude album cover). Appel is very defensive in the book about his role in helping to craft the genius of Springsteen. Ultimately, it seems to me, there is plenty of credit to go around.

I recently read that in Buffalo, at the last show of Bruce’s latest tour, he acknowledged Appel from the stage and indicated that his first album never would have happened without Appel. In fact, Appel and his son were on hand as special guests, and were apparently afforded the royal treatment. I can’t pretend that Bruce Springsteen isn’t a human being. I do give him credit for being a little quicker to recognize that fact than most of his peers and contemporaries.

Eliot’s book is interesting. It wasn’t as negative as I thought, but I do still commend Dave Marsh’s Springsteen books as the best of their type. Start there… but if you wonder sometimes if you’re getting the whole story, you might check this book out.

Joe

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