The Man Behind the Thunder
By Eric Meola
itbooks, $30.00, 128 pages
As a collection, the photos presented in Eric Meola’s Streets of Fire: Bruce Springsteen in Photographs and Lyrics, 1977-1979 provide an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at a musician on the verge of stardom. With each intense gaze Bruce seems to be challenging his audience to take his songs seriously, while at the same time he’s obviously having fun in the process. Rock ’n’ roll photography enthusiasts will be delighted by the iconic poses, the high-wasted jeans and the bare-chested, motorcycle machismo of the 70s. But the inherent sense of drama and the darkness of each shot, driven by lyrics from songs like “The Promised Land” and “Streets of Fire,” establish the serious tone of Bruce and his music at the time.
Eric Meola is meticulous in capturing the backstory of each shot, including details such as what Bruce was wearing and the conversations they shared. The result is a well-thought-out and reflective account of an artist before the massive surge of stardom. Having just produced Born to Run and about to release Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce is playing the rock star in the beautiful photographs in Streets of Fire. Like a Rorschach test, the photographs in this collection will produce a different meaning for each viewer; some will see cliché rock poses, others will see a man intent on meeting his destiny as The Boss.
Reviewed by Julie Scott