Saturday, April 15, 2017


Finally wrapped up listing to Bruce Springsteen's unabridged audio recording of his memoir. 

My Big Four takeaways:

1. Abiding admiration for recognizing, addressing and continuing to stand down a dark-side genetic load that rivals the one-handed Ernest Hemingway, yet probably in a similar, slippery way, feeds THE ART. Singer-songwriter Mickey Newbury, who was dealt a similar, stacked deck, called writing against such interior and potentially lethal darkness, "Feeding the Dragon."

2. Gratitude he didn't go into his politics too deeply, something I dreaded would mount as the (16, count 'em!) CD's entered the backstretch. I'm a sing-and-shut-up kind of audience, for better or worse.

3. It's still deplorable he didn't go to bat for the E Street Band being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with him: The tracks with his signature band are indisputably the ones that got him there, (ego?) convenient HOF rules/technicalities be damned.

4. Semi-related note: Dismay, and some disappointment, he stubbornly pays more lip service to lesser (and mostly solo) works, while in some ways undermining the music recorded with the aforementioned E Street Band that will best endure. (A generation from now, BORN TO RUN and DARKNESS will possibly still be resonating. HUMAN TOUCH? DEVILS & DUST? WRECKING BALL? Those don't reach.) 
But some artists are their own worst critics, and more recent and expanded anniversary re-releases have confirmed Bruce buried better songs/versions at the expense of lesser tracks that made their way onto now classic albums.

(5?) Semi-tied to point #4: MAGIC is another, late-career album that most music fans likely won't discover years down the road, but it does contain one great track I choose to reference in THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH (published by Betimes Books). In a series defined by time-jumps, I picked Bruce's "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" to name-check in order to anchor the most audacious (and possibly resonant) of all the time jumps in the Hector Lassiter series:

If you've read or listened to The Boss' memoir, your thoughts?

Sunday, April 9, 2017


I'm criminally late linking here to this much-appreciated, quite knowing review of THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH by James Ellroy (and crime fiction scholar) Steven Powell.

An excerpt:

"It’s not just the threat of a nuclear catastrophe that looms large over the novel, there is also a complete meta-fictional reworking of the Lassiter character and authorial persona which will make you question the nature of every page of the entire series. Take this description of crime writing in the novel:
The craft of fiction writing had earned the fifty-something Lassiter a good and steady living; nice threads, pretty women and a chance to roam widely: to see a bigger world than he would ever have glimpsed working some nine-to-five, wage-slave day job in his native Southern Texas.

"It is the 'bigger world' that every reader and writer in their heart aspires to, and the one that McDonald has given us through the Lassiter series, which is given a radical new perspective in the final pages of Three Chords."

The full review is available here, along with an in-depth interview we did together before the novel's release here.