ISSUE DATE: Oct. 27, 1975
ALSO APPEARED: Aug. 5, 2002
He has been called the “last innocent in rock,” which is at best partly true, but that is how he appears to audiences who are exhausted and on fire at the end of a concert. Springsteen is not a golden California boy or a glitter queen from Britain. Dressed usually in leather jacket and shredded undershirt, he is a glorified gutter rat from a dying New Jersey resort town who walks with an easy swagger that is part residual stage presence, part boardwalk braggadocio. He nurtures the look of a lowlife romantic even though he does not smoke, scarcely drinks and disdains every kind of drug.
In all other ways, however, he is the dead-on image of a rock musician: street smart but sentimental, a little enigmatic, articulate mostly through his music. For 26 years Springsteen has known nothing but poverty and debt until, just in the past few weeks, the rock dream came true for him. (“Man, when I was nine I couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting to be Elvis Presley.”) But he is neither sentimental nor superficial. His music is primal, directly in touch with all the impulses of wild humor and glancing melancholy, street tragedy and punk anarchy that have made rock the distinctive voice of a generation.
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