Rock Reads: Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs by Jim Beviglia

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

No doubt some will look at the title of this book and wonder about the need for such a thing. True Springsteen has put out his share of fun, mindless pop tunes like "I'm a Rocker" but the great majority of his body of work, now spanning 40-years, is as timeless and thought-provoking as it is entertaining, and resonates with multiple generations the way Hemingway, Kerouac or Dylan does for others. In short, Springsteen's music has changed lives, including that of author Beviglia.

Beviglia puts early cut "The E Street Shuffle" in the #100 slot and (no surprise) "Born to Run" at the top of the heap; in between are songs you'd expect like "Growin' Up," "Adam Raised a Cain," "Nebraska" and "Spirit in the Night" and "Jungleland," "Born in the USA," "Rosalita" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town" all make the Top 10.

Beviglia devotes a couple pages to each song, noting a little bit about the music ("Stax-influenced horns") but mostly he recaps the theme of the song, shows how the song fit the zeitgeist of the day, and, since Springsteen is fond of recurring themes, links the song to others in his vast catalog.

One of the most interesting things that Beviglia points out is that Springsteen likes to let his characters stew; there is rarely a resolution to conflict and the author points to songs like 1987's "Cautious Man" (#39) as examples.

Counting Down Bruce Springsteen is an entertaining and informative read but its greatest value probably lies in the fact that by book's end readers will have a newfound craving for the music whether they try to pick favorites or not.

Beviglia is also the author of a similar book focusing on Bob Dylan.

You can order the book here

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