Sunday 18 March 2018

From Mullingar to Nebraska -- with The Boss

"It's a book by a Mullingar man -- about another Mullingar man".

But a midlands writer has revealed how he has penned a book on Bruce Springsteen's most acclaimed album without the help of the Boss, or his management.

Heart Of Darkness: Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska hits book shelves this summer, the work of Mullingar author David Burke.

"The Mullingar joke is a reference to the news, which came out last year, that Bruce's great-great grandparents were Ann Garrity and Patrick Farrell, and were from Co Westmeath," David told me.

At the centre of his book is Springsteen's 1982 album Nebraska, widely seen as the most challenging album ever released by a big star on a major record label.

Originally intended as demos to be recorded by Springsteen's E Street Band, the singer decided to release the demos themselves.

But the Nebraska album went on to sell 800,000 copies.

Among its fans is rock journalist Burke, who last year decided he would write about the masterpiece.

Perhaps encouraged by links revealed last year between Springsteen and his home town of Mullingar, the 44-year-old approached Springsteen's management with the idea before he had even secured a publisher for it.

"When I first approached Springsteen's management, I did mention my mutual Mullingar connection, hoping that a bit of blarney would have done the trick. I was disappointed that Springsteen didn't co-operate, not because of the link, but because it would have been brilliant to have him in the book," said Burke.

Neither Springsteen nor members of his E Street band consented to be interviewed for Burke's book.

Instead, the Wolverhampton-based writer spoke to a range of artists influenced by the work, including David Gray, who described the record as "storytelling of the highest calibre".

"The first four songs are just unbelievable. It's game over, isn't it?" said David Gray.

And singer Steve Earle says: "Nebraska completely and totally establishes Springsteen's place as the greatest songwriter of that generation, of that moment, in rock 'n' roll history, it was a conscious decision to walk out there naked. And I think he was right. If he hadn't done it, then it never would have happened. We would have had a different Bruce Springsteen and a different world, at least as far as my world goes."

David Burke's Heart Of Darkness:Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska will be published later this summer.

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