Bruce Springsteen – Like a Killer in the Sun: Selected Lyrics 1972-2017
Italian author and educator Leonardo Colombati has done something seemingly impossible with this book, and that is to peel back the curtain even further on the voice and lyrics of an artist who is already seemingly transparent. When listening Bruce Springsteen, it is evident—as Italian composer Ennio Morricone writes in a foreword to the book—that Springsteen develops the “pain and humanity inherent in the characters he recounts.” What Colombati has added to this pain and humanity is the story behind many of the lyrics, including explanations for geographic locations, inspirations, and connections between songs.
The book is beautifully formatted, the forewords followed by a lengthy and engrossing introduction by Colombati, titled “The Great American Novel.” In that piece, Colombati expertly argues for the poetry and the classic nature of Springsteen’s work, placing the songwriter alongside none other than Bob Dylan, Robert Frost, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Lee Masters, and Homer. What Colombati contends, and I tend to agree, is that Springsteen is the American bard of the 20th and 21st centuries, much as Shakespeare and Whitman were the voices of their respective locales and ages.
The bulk of the book is divided into two sections, the selected lyrics themselves and then notes on each chosen song. While it may have been more accessible to have the notes directly following the lyrics, this chosen organization allows the lyrics to stand together like a collection of poetry. Bruce Springsteen—Like a Killer in the Sun is an intimate portrayal and celebration of the artists himself without being sycophantic. It allows the man’s words to speak, and Colombati’s notes to illuminate, the American Springsteen has documented for over 40 years. The book is a triumph and a must-read not only for Springsteen fans but for anyone interested in what it means to be a storyteller.
Leonardo Colombati • Bruce Springsteen