FRESH AIR: As a young musician coming up in the early 1970s, Bruce Springsteen played in the bars of Asbury Park, N.J., a hardscrabble urban beach town full of colorful characters. The town fired his imagination and inspired him musically, but still he found himself longing for more. Springsteen tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that he knew that if he was ever going to make his mark on the larger world, it would be through his words. “I looked at myself and I just said, ‘Well, you know, I can sing but I’m not the greatest singer in the world. I can play guitar very well but I’m not the greatest guitar player in the world,’ ” Springsteen remembers. “So I said, “Well, if I’m going to project an individuality, it’s going to have to be in my writing.” Springsteen went on to record the album Born To Run in 1974; its title track paved the way for his mainstream popularity. The album also lends its name to his new memoir, in springsteen-book-coverwhich Springsteen reflects on how he and his music were shaped by home, roots, family and community. What follows is the transcript of the conversation Springsteen and Gross had in the recording studio at his New Jersey home. MORE

EXCERPT: I come from a boardwalk town where almost everything is tinged with a bit of fraud. So am I. By twenty, no race-car-driving rebel, I was a guitar player on the streets of Asbury Park and already a member in good standing amongst those who “lie” in service of the truth … artists with a small ‘a.’ But I held four clean aces. I had youth, almost a decade of hard-core bar band experience, a good group of homegrown musicians who were attuned to my performance style and a story to tell. This book is both a continuation of that story and a search into its origins. I’ve taken as my parameters the events in my life I believe shaped that story and my performance work. One of the questions I’m asked over and over again by fans on the street is “How do you do it?” In the following pages I will try to shed a little light on how, and, more important, why. MORE