E Street Shuffle
You might not agree with some of my friend Clinton Heylin's reassessments of the first fifteen or so years of songs and LPs by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (I certainly didn't), but you have to give him his due when it comes to documenting Bruce's musical evolution up through the mid- to late Eighties: album by album, song by song, sometimes line by line. The amount of research that must have gone into E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band boggles the mind. The chapters dealing with The River and Nebraska and the mysterious gravity that kept pulling Bruce and his subject matter further into the dark are absolutely compelling. And throughout, Clinton respectfully references the writings of "the late, great Paul Nelson," to whom Springsteen owes so much of his early critical credibility and identity.
Caveat emptor: the US version of the book is missing 100 or so pages of song-by-song commentary, as well as a color photo section, that appears in the UK version. More importantly, last week it came to my attention that the website www.backstreets.com is offering the UK version with an exclusive limited edition bonus interview CD: a previously unreleased early interview with Springsteen by Paul Nelson. The interview, just shy of an hour, was conducted in December 1972, making it presumably Bruce's first interview with a national rock critic. The CD is being made available thanks to a deal struck by Clinton with Paul Nelson's son Mark. I've heard the interview and it's well worth adding to your collection.
The above photo of Elliott Murphy and Bruce Springsteen was taken in early 1973, shortly after Paul Nelson introduced the two men to one another.