As he enters his sixties, Bruce Springsteen remains a paragon of all that is cool and right. Born in the U.S.A. still ranks as one of the top-selling albums of all time, and Springsteen the man is an unstoppable force, selling out multi-city arena tours year after year. He's a genuine voice of the people, the bastard child of Woody Guthrie and James Brown, and an elder statesman who has inspired generations of bands, including U2, the Hold Steady, and Arcade Fire. He's won twenty Grammy Awards, an Oscar, and two Golden Globes and is a double hall-of-famer.
There are dozens of books about the Boss, exploring every facet of his career. So what's left to say? Nothing objective, perhaps. But when it comes to music, objectivity is highly overrated. Robert Wiersema has been a Springsteen fan since he was a teenager. By most definitions, he's a fanatic: following tours to see multiple shows in a row, watching set lists develop in real time via the Internet, ordering bootlegs from shady vendors in Italy. His attachment is deeper than fandom, though: he's grown up with Springsteen's music as the soundtrack to his life, beginning with his working-class youth in rural British Columbia and continuing on through dreams of escape, falling in love, and becoming a father.
Walk Like a Man is liner notes for a mix tape, a frank and inventive blend of biography, music criticism, and memoir over the course of thirteen tracks. Like the best mix tapes, it balances joy and sorrow, laughter seasoning the dark-night-of-the-soul questions that haunt us all. Wiersema's book is the story of a man becoming a man (despite getting a little lost along the way), and of the man and the music that have accompanied him on his journey.