Bridge and Tunnel Boys: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and the Metropolitan Sound of the American Century

Rutgers Univ. Oct. 2023. 262p. ISBN 9781978835221. $28.95. BIOG
Cullen (1980: America’s Pivotal Year) offers a dual biography of two highly successful musicians/songwriters and a chronicle of the American music scene from the 1970s to the present. Well-versed in modern U.S. culture and popular entertainment, the author examines the influence of New York City and its different ethnicities on the lives and music of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. This work explores the parallel tracks of their careers and troubled lives. Springsteen, from suburban New Jersey, struggled with depression; Joel, from Long Island, faced an addiction to alcohol. Both were poor students who rebelled against formal education, had failed marriages, and were outsiders who craved respect from the music establishment. The most interesting part of the book covers their emergence in the early 1970s and incredible success in the 1980s. Key albums and songs are discussed at length, as well as interactions with an array of record producers and band members. Cullen also assesses the critical response to both performers and their enduring impact (Joel’s last studio album was in 1993, while Springsteen has released 10 albums since 2000).
VERDICT Fans will appreciate Cullen’s insight and respect for Springsteen’s and Joel’s music in this highly entertaining book.
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