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As rock critics have noted in the past, Bruce Springsteen's songs exist in a world of their own--they have their own settings, characters, words, and images. It is a world that even those who know only a handful of Springsteen's lyrics can instantly recognize, a world of highways and factories, loners and underdogs, hot rods and patrol cars. And it is a world that stretches far beyond the New Jersey state line. Indeed, Springsteen's attention to the ideals and struggles of ordinary Americans has significantly influenced American popular culture and public debate. As a rock-and-roll troubadour, "the Boss" speaks not only for his many fans but to them, and often with a directness or sincerity that no other performer can match. But what can be said of the fans themselves? Why and how do they relate to Springsteen's words and music? Based on three years of ethnographic research amid Springsteen's fans, and informed by the author's own experiences and impressions as a fan, Daniel Cavicchi's Tramps Like Us is an interdisciplinary study of the ways in which ordinary people form special, sustained attachments to a particular singer/songwriter and his songs, and of how these attachments function in people's lives. An "insider's narrative" about Springsteen fans--who they are, what they do, and why they do it--this book also investigates the phenomenon of fandom in general. The text oscillates between fans' stories and ideas and Cavicchi's own anecdotes, commentary, and analysis. It challenges the stereotypes of fans as obsessive, delusional, and even mentally ill, and explores fandom as a normal socio-cultural activity. Ultimately, this book argues that music fandom is a useful and meaningful behavior that enables us to shape identities, create communities, and make sense of the world--both Bruce's and our own.
Bruce Springsteens music and performances have provided an emotional outlet for thousands of fans all over the world. Drawing from participant observation, the statements of Springsteen fans, and the life and music of Springsteen, Randalls ethnographic treatment documents the ways in which fans are inspired to create a global cultural community. This community functions as a social network, offering emotional support, spirituality, and the motivation for doing good works. Randall discovers that the sensitivities and values Springsteen instills in his fans are as alive and valid as those experienced by adherents of widely recognized spiritual traditions. Her in-depth examination of the thoughts and actions of these fans reveals that embracing nontraditional spiritual values can engender multifaceted feelings, including trust, hope, and respect for humankind. By acknowledging that a personal spiritual connection can develop outside a sectarian landscape, an appreciation of and tolerance for different belief systems can be cultivated and nourished.
This is an exploration of the outburst of cultural exuberance that swept African America during the late 1930s. Tracing the path of one symbolic gesture - the jump - across cultural and disciplinary boundaries, this book provides a unique, political, intellectual and artistic analysis of the years preseding World War II.
American Lonesome: The Work of Bruce Springsteen begins with a visit to the Jersey Shore and ends with a meditation on the international legacy of Springsteen’s writing, music, and performances. Gavin Cologne-Brookes’s innovative study of this popular musician and his position in American culture blends scholarship with personal reflection, providing both an academic examination of Springsteen’s work and a moving account of how it offers a way out of emotional solitude and the potential lonesomeness of modern life. Cologne-Brookes proposes that the American philosophical tradition of pragmatism, which assesses the value of ideas and arguments based on their practical applications, provides a lens for understanding the diversity of perspectives and emotions encountered in Springsteen’s songs and performances. Drawing on pragmatist philosophy from William James to Richard Rorty, Cologne-Brookes examines Springsteen’s formative environment and outsider psychology, arguing that the artist’s confessed tendency toward a self-reliant isolation creates a tension in his work between lonesomeness and community. He considers Springsteen’s portrayals of solitude in relation to classic and contemporary American writers, from Frederick Doug-lass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emily Dickinson to Richard Wright, Flannery O’Connor, and Joyce Carol Oates. As part of this critique, he discusses the difference between escapist and pragmatic romanticism, the notion of multiple selves as played out both in Springsteen’s work and in our perception of him, and the impact of performances both recorded and live. By drawing on his own experiences seeing Springsteen perform—including on tours showcasing the album The River in 1981 and 2016—Cologne-Brookes creates a book about the intimate relationship between art and everyday life. Blending research, cultural knowledge, and creative thinking, American Lonesome dissolves any imagined barriers between the study of a songwriter, literary criticism, and personal testimony.
A provocative, multifaceted look at a rock icon.
Bruce Springsteen often prefers to let his music do the talking. His onstage stories and shaggy dog tales have long entertained his fans, but his songs and his guitar provide the most direct line to their hearts. Considering his prominence on the rock 'n' roll landscape, Springsteen has spent remarkably little of his 40-year recording career speaking to the press. But when he does decide to sit down and talk, the conversations tend to be momentous. Q&As with Bruce Springsteen reveal an artist with great insight and self-awareness, a student of music, an avid searcher, an astute observer of humanity from the boardwalk to America at large. Much has been written about the Boss, but few can be said to know the man as well as he knows himself, and the best of Springsteen's own words are collected here in Talk About a Dream. Gathering more than 30 different interviews spanning from 1973 to 2013, this volume captures his remarkable personality-one that takes interviews as seriously as making music. These eye-opening conversations chart Springsteen's development as an artist, a thinker, and a public figure, shedding light on everything from the meaning of lyrics to his evolution from rebel rocker to global icon.
Fans used to be seen as an overly obsessed fraction of the audience. In the last few decades, shifts in media technology and production have instead made fandom a central mode of consumption. A range of ideas has emerged to explore different facets of this growing phenomenon. With a foreword by Matt Hills, Understanding Fandom introduces the whole field of fan research by looking at the history of debate, key paradigms and methodological issues. The book discusses insights from scholars working with fans of different texts, genres and media forms, including television and popular music. Mark Duffett shows that fan research is an emergent interdisciplinary field with its own key thinkers: a tradition that is distinct from both textual analysis and reception studies. Drawing on a range of debates from media studies, cultural studies and psychology, Duffett argues that fandom is a particular kind of engagement with the power relations of media culture.

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