Possibly thanks to years of saying no to drugs, “straight-edge Jersey boy” Bruce Springsteen celebrates his 67th birthday Friday with his memory sparkling clear. The 509 pages of his memoir, “Born to Run” (Simon and Schuster, $32.50), are filled with detailed storytelling, hilarious characterizations and candid recollections of his life and career.
1. THEY DON’T CALL HIM THE BOSS FOR NOTHING. Though he’s known as a political progressive, Springsteen says democracy has no place in a rock band. “I’ve always believed the E Street Band’s continued existence . . . is partially due to the fact that there was no role confusion among its members.”
2. ‘ONCE YOU’RE A CATHOLIC, YOU’RE ALWAYS A CATHOLIC.’ Springsteen was raised in the church and “is still on the team.” In Catholicism, he found “the poetry, danger and darkness” that were his beginnings as a songwriter.
3. HE’S A GENIUS BUT NO VIRTUOSO. Springsteen can’t read music to this day.
4. HE WAS CALLED ‘BLINKY’ AT SCHOOL. Springsteen’s dad suffered from mental illness and young Bruce faced uncontrollable anxiety in elementary school. I am “simply a guy who was rarely comfortable in his own skin,” he writes. Twenty-five years of therapy and a stint on Klonopin have helped, giving him the insights “at the heart of this book.”
5. THERE’S A REASON HIS CONCERTS ARE LONG. “I . . . live high on the hog, yacht around the Mediterranean (who doesn’t) and private plane myself between dental appointments. But I’ve still never regularly quite had the mojo to freely let the ‘bon temps rouler.’ Except . . . onstage. . . . That’s why at our shows you can’t get rid of me.”
6. LATE BLOOMER . . . Springsteen didn’t drive until his 20s, on a crazed, three-day cross country trip in a Ford truck — his friend would get the car into gear, then Bruce would climb over and steer.
7. . . . EXCEPT IN THE GIRL DEPARTMENT. While he doesn’t go into detail on his love life and marriages, Springsteen admits he’s been a chick magnet since age 7, when a “small harem” took up the “softhearted dreamer in their midst,” eagerly helping him zip his jacket and tie his shoes.
8. HIS SURFING CAREER WAS SHORT-LIVED. Bruce’s first home after his family’s place in Freehold was a surfboard factory in a deserted industrial park. His enthusiastic if not especially gifted surfing years ended when he broke his tooth and almost drowned.
9. HE KNOWS HOW TO PICK A HORSE. The Springsteen family holds rodeos at the farm in Jersey and their daughter is an accomplished rider. Bruce has learned a thing or two himself about riding, and has this advice: “Never get on a horse named ‘Lightning,’ ‘Thunder,’ ‘Widow Maker,’ ‘Undertaker,’ ‘Acid Trip,’ ‘Hurricane’ or ‘Sudden Death.’ ”
10. HE’S IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL. “Now some guys’ five minutes are worth other guys’ fifty years, and while burning out in one brilliant supernova will send record sales through the roof, leave you living fast, dying young, and leaving a beautiful corpse, there is something to be said for living. Personally, I like my gods old, grizzled and here.” With which the man’s legions of fans and readers will gladly agree.