Streets of Fire: Bruce Springsteen in Photographs and Lyrics 1977-1979
Eric Meola took loads of photographs of Bruce Springsteen early in his career, beautiful black’n’white snaps. Many of them are collected here – Meola scored the cover photo for Born To Run, from there of course Springsteen went to superstar status. Meteoric rise and all of that…
This book tells the story, through selected lyrics from Bruce, through a detailed photo essay and some contextualising text essays, of how Springsteen cultivated an image via the movie Badlands and fifties rock’n’roll, via folk hero-type mythology and a determined back-turn on the mainstream. It’s made all the more remarkable of course for the fact that it worked in the best possible way: the hits kept on coming, mainstream audiences continued to flock but Springsteen managed to shake free from the “new Dylan” tags and pressure to create Born To Run II.
By the time he did fall into the parody/pastiche territory of Glory Days his own had been captured. In his earlier lyrics. And in the photographs you see here. Glory days that came from working hard both on the stage and in the image-creating domain too…Springsteen’s best work still towers, yet it is so obviously a construction, the blue-collar, folk-referencing cult-hero look (and sound) is something he had to work at. His talent is, most certainly in the perspiration; he did the work in order to create the works. This book shows vulnerability, heart, guts, passion, confusion, frustration and within all of those vestiges an energy almost palpable. That would work as a description of his music from this time too of course. That is why, for the most part, any story that needs to be told is filled in with lyrical snippets – and in some cases full song lyrics.
These photos show many things – including a silent story in the lead up to going fully off-road to make Nebraska; these photos hint at the (need for) retreat. The black’n’white has them perfectly rendered too – Springsteen is, for all his faults, not a man that aims for any big spotlight. Just a man prepared to (always) show up.
Here Eric Meola shows his finest work and a behind-the-scenes in the making of some of Springsteen’s finest work. A must-have for fans and a beautiful set of photographs that I would think most people will find something to believe in.