Rolling Stone calls “Homeward Bound” ‘Definitive.’


#RollingStone’s Andy Greene has weighed in on ‘Homeward Bound’ and wrote really nice things: “”Definitive…Intimate…Carlin has gone deeper than anyone yet.”

The book will be officially published on Oct. 11 (Tuesday!) and you can find it lots of places:

Homeward Bound
The Life of Paul Simon

Buy the Book:

Rolling Stone features HOMEWARD BOUND in Fall Books Preview

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This from the just-published Sept. 8, 2016 issue of Rolling Stone. Featured alongside new books by Brian Wilson and Bruce Springsteen, subjects of CATCH A WAVE and BRUCE, respectively.

You can pre-order HOMEWARD BOUND ps://″>here and here and here.

Review of The Shondes’ “The Garden”


Rolling Stone just published my review The Garden, the new album by the sizzling Brooklyn grrrl-punk-pop band the Shondes. Snappish guitars; bold fiddle runs, bam-boom drums and better-stand-back vocals from Louisa Solomon, who has one of the biggest voices in pop music.

You may not have heard of them before but now you have. so hit the link and stream some hot new tunes.

Bruce Springsteen’s greatest songs…the exciting climax!

Dec20-1978rexRystedtAnd now we reach the Top Ten.

Not of Rolling Stone’s actual Bruce Springsteen’s 100 Best Songs list, but of the jury ballot I sent into the mix of opinions.

You’ll find some quirky choices up here. I did that on purpose, hoping to draw attention to some truly great songs that don’t get nearly as much attention as their more popular brethren and sistren.

It’s not a dark ride, but some of those track repairs we mentioned earlier might not hold as well as we, and certainly you, might wish.

10: The Land of Hope and Dreams – When the E Street Band reunion tour got rolling in 1999 no one knew if it would mark a new beginning for the 11-years-gone band or just one last sweep of the global marketplace. All doubts were laid to rest at the end at the end of the show when earthquake drums, chiming mandolin and guitar amplitude heralded this paean to spiritual connection. First released on the Live in NYC set released in 2000, but also as a rejiggered studio recording on Wrecking Ball. I prefer the former, but do I complain when the latter comes on? No, I do not.

9: The Ghost of Tom Joad – The spirit of John Steinbeck’s Depression-era hero returns to Southern California six decades on and discovers that nothing has changed. The original acoustic version from the 1995 album it named is plenty good but again, the song really discovers itself in the electrified live version released on the Magic Tour Highlights ep released 15 years later. Tom Morello shares the vocals and lead guitar, but it’s Tom Joad’s famous recitation that crowns the piece: Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy/Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries/Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air/Look for me, Ma, I’ll be there.

8: Lost in the Flood – The scourge of war as experienced on the oil slick roads of the homefront. Still another Greetings tune brought to full life on the concert stage. Great versions abound, but my absolute favorite is the 2000 live recording on Live in NYC.  His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud – I wonder what the dude was saying?

7: Atlantic City – Back to the Jersey shore (and the Carlin family’s ancestral homeland) for some old-fashioned organized crime, in all its legal and counter-legal glory. Pushed to the brink, the narrator prepares to join the underworld with his faith shattered, but still breathing. Barely, and not for very much longer given the song’s original home (on Nebraska) and the outraged snarl in the wildfire live arrangement. Sounds great on the Other Band In Concert release, but temblor-tastic on the ESB’s Live in NYC collection.

6: Backstreets – Innocent love, lust and friendly neighborhood gangs dare speak their names and get torched with the rest of the town. Even the wordless cries at the tune’s climax speak volumes.

5: Incident on 57th Street – Spanish Johnny and Puerto Rican Jane star in an allegorical rock noir tale of love, faith and incipient doom. Even the other side of town (steps from paradise!) offers no guarantees beyond the shakiest promise Johnny can muster: We may walk until the daylight, maybe. I love every version I’ve ever heard, but the one that really kills me is the violin-led acoustic version that opens the Main Point show in February, 1975. If only for the perfectly timed police siren wailing outside the club just as the song, and Johnny & Jane, depart the screen.

4: The Promised Land – Some days I think this is the clearest mission statement in the catalogue. Most days, even. Especially when I’m feeling so weak I just wanna…

3: Racing in the Streets – From the gearhead’s 7-11 parking lot to the Godhead’s purifying waves of the Pacific,Transcendent. Probably my biggest favorite of them all.

2: One Step Up – Possibly an overstatement on my part, but then, this is a pretty fantastic song. For that elegantly simple chord progression (so good it turns up again, more than less, in “Rocky Ground”) and also, mostly, for the lyrics that function both as declarative descriptions (the stalled car; the dead furnace; the birds on the wires) to metaphor – particularly in the chorus when even the lovers’ dance floor reunion becomes another exercise in motion that eventually leads nowhere. As the evening sky turns black, even.


But first, this message:


Hey look, it’s the cover of the about-to-be-released paperback edition of my biography Bruce.  You can buy it then, or else buy it today, and then again tomorrow, and the day after, and so on. If only to get all the domestic and foreign editions, some of which are in completely different languages. You can find them at your fave bookseller, including…

purchase at Amazonpurchase at Indie Boundpurchase at BAM!purchase at Amazonpurchase at iBooks

purchase at Barnes & Noblepurchase at Powell'spurchase at Simon & Schusterpurchase at Barnes & Noble  Better still, check out the audio version of the book, read by great actor and nice guy BOBBY CANNAVALE, available here:  purchase at purchase at iTunes


1: If I Was The Priest – Yes, yes, I know. It probably isn’t his greatest-ever song. But it’s still a great tune, from the early-Elton John gospel/folk piano arrangement to its wildly cinematic presentation of Jesus as the itchy-fingered sheriff of a corrupt frontier town where the virgin Mary shoots smack and both runs and serves at the Holy Grail saloon/whorehouse and the Holy Ghost presents the burlesque show. Post-Catholic bitterness doesn’t come any more visionary than this, and yet it’s nowhere close to sounding overwrought. Instead, it’s the second big clue (following “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City”) to where the very young (at 22 years old) Bruce was headed. And me, I got scabs on my knees from kneeling way too long/I gotta take the stand, be the man, up where you belong, he sings, and you can feel his marrow rippling with every syllable. Sheriff Jesus pulls his six-gun but the singer stares him down. He’s not going to spend his life wielding his gun for anyone else’s tawdry justice. He’s striking out on his own…in fact, he’s already overdue in Cheyenne. He got there, eventually. And a good distance beyond, too…

Bruce Springsteen’s greatest songs: 11-20


My own personal and arguably perverse but I really don’t think so list of Springsteen’s 50 greatest songs is headed for its dramatic climax! But not today, so hold the livestock of your choice (horses; bunnies; kudu; who am I to judge?) and let’s thrill our way through the bottom half of the top 20!

20: It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City – Another Greetings track that sounds cramped in the mostly-acoustic-band setting of the debut album (they were trying for Cat Stevens’ studio sound, I kid you not!) but exploded to life once the fully electrified band hit the stage. Lots of nice versions from ’73 and ’74 and even early ’75 but my favorite recorded versions always include Steve Van Zandt in the role of rival/supporting guitar-slinger. (e.g., the ’78 Roxy cut on Live 75-85.) But that said, don’t ignore what a wonderfully written tune it is, and how the lyric combines sidewalk realism with the nightmare vision of the subway and, of course, Satan himself rising out of a manhole to reveal the truth of the situation…

19: She’s the One – Love, lust, kick-ass boots and the great Bo Diddley beat. The Born to Run original is perfect, and I can’t think of another recorded live version that disappoints. But is he easy to break or too tough to snap? Bruce seems to change his mind from night to night.

18: Born to Run –  No explanation necessary.

17: Tougher Than the Rest –  Love, renewed faith and the dreamiest of dreams written, played and sung just as straight as the thin, thin line it describes. Kills me every time, just like all the other songs on Tunnel of Love that make clear that real love and commitment can never really be that simple.

16: Your Own Worst Enemy – In which the singer sees into the heart of Magic‘s GW Bushian antagonist and finds sympathy — and maybe kinship — in the terrors that inspire men to remove the mirrors from their walls. Dressed up with bells, timpani and particularly rich vocals, the blend of political commentary and emotional insight seems somehow churchly.

15: County Fair – Speaking of places of worship, what could be holier than a summertime evening that begins on the rides and ends up at an open-air dance featuring James Young, the Immortal Ones and ther two guitars, baby, bass and drums? Recorded on a warm night in his home studio in Rumson, NJ, this swaying little tune features Bruce in an unexpected duet with the neighborhood crickets, plainly audible through the open windows. Struck by the sound, Bruce sent an assistant out to record even more crickets, whose voices were overdubbed onto the finished track.

14: New York City Serenade – Possibly the greatest of the early-career epics, “NYC…” opens in the dark grandeur of David Sancious’s spectacular piano intro, tumbles into Springsteen’s Bowery boy opening verse and heads uptown through the subway stops, street pimps and hookers until finding transcendence in the satin-clad figure of the singing junk man. In a class by itself. Should have been tops on my list — how’d it end up all the way down at 14? Must be some great songs to come…

13: Thunder Road – Like this one. In a whole other class all by itself. If only for the closing sax-and-guitar instrumental piece that sounds like the music the American spirit would write if it owned a guitar and had a friend who could play the sax.

12: The Promise – A requiem to a dream so beautiful and aware that it gives birth to a whole new dream. Best heard in the spare piano version Springsteen recorded for Tracks in ’98, but lovely enough to shine in any circumstances.

11: This Hard Land –  Three chords, a harmonica and America’s once and future frontier. Woody Guthrie could have written it; Henry Fonda might should have sung it. If you can’t make it stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive and meet me in a dream of this hard land…

TOMORROW: The top ten, and the number one Bruce Springsteen song, will be presented in Mary Magdalene’s saloon, with Sheriff Jesus in attendance…