I find the best part of many show biz biographies are the early days, when the artist is learning, and have early success. Going from one hit to another can be interesting, but there's nothing like the story of making it.
Three recent books have demonstrated this well. First, Four Of The Three Musketeers, a book about the Marx Brothers' stage work. (The title comes from a song they performed on Broadway.)
Then there's the aptly titled Her Again. It's the story of Meryl Streep's early years. She's become such a regular presence on the screen that we've almost gotten tired of her reliably good work, not to mention her Oscar nominations (twenty and counting). How did she go from unknown to omnipresent?
She went from Yale to Broadway without missing a step, and was soon the talk of the town. She could play anything. She probably thought at this point she'd be on stage the rest of her career, but movies came calling, and next thing you know, she was a movie star, with roles in The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, and winning an Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer. The book ends here, because she's now the star we all know well.
Born To Run, was better than I expected. That's because while I like his music, I'm not an idolator. Reading long descriptions of many of his albums would leave me cold. But the early years, which take up a lot of his book, are fascinating.
Bruce can be a bit wordy (of course), but he writes with passion, and a love of rock and roll. And, as we find out, he was not an overnight success. He kicked around in clubs, living hand to mouth, learning his trade, for about a decade before putting out his first album. And even then, it wasn't until his third album, Born To Run, that he truly made it.
I knew next to nothing about these years, and Bruce conjures up a lost world that has informed his work ever since. And if the later parts of his book can't much the opening...well, I guess that's an occupational hazard.