The music event of the season isn’t a surprise-release hip-hop album or a pop diva’s Max Martin-produced single. It isn’t even music. It’s a book — specifically, Born to Run, the $10 million memoir from that tireless torchbearer of rock, Bruce Springsteen (at press time, not yet available for review). Like “farewell” tours and covers albums, autobiographies have always proved reliable earners in sunset-years musicians’ product lines, but nowadays they’re more than just dependably tawdry airport purchases. Turns out: Rock stars can write! (Fans weren’t necessarily sure they could even read.)
The Boss follows in the motorcycle-boot-clad footsteps of such celebrated belle-lettrists as Keith Richards, Patti Smith and Bob Dylan, whose Chronicles, Volume One kicked off the high-advance, high-reward boomer lit-ra-ture boom and tops Billboard’s ranking of our favorite music books of all time. Of course, there’s more to building the ultimate library than tony tell-alls: Read on for the very best business tomes, historical surveys and critical reckonings, plus enough sex, drugs and financial profligacy to shock even Motley Crue (see No. 16).
Contributing writers: Frank DiGiacomo, Gavin Edwards, Jim Farber, Lizzy Goodman, David Hinckley, Maura Johnson, Dorian Lynskey, Rebecca Milzoff, Jody Rosen, Gene Santoro, Rob Tannenbaum. Guest writers noted below.