Friday, May 30, 2014

Raise Your Hand: Adventures of an American Springsteen Fan in Europe / Caryn Rose

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel Memoir

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

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“Caryn Rose is a Brooklyn-based writer and novelist who documents rock and roll, baseball and urban life. She has been writing about Bruce Springsteen for over 30 years, and has been a regular contributor to Backstreets Magazine since 2003”

Rose also has two novels available, B-sides and Broken Hearts and A Whole New Ballgame. For more, visit her website.


“18 days, five countries, and seven concerts: this was how long-time Springsteen chronicler and veteran Backstreets contributor Caryn Rose spent her summer vacation, running from Paris to Prague to Vienna to London to Dublin, following Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on tour. Were European Springsteen fans that different from their Stateside counterparts? Were the shows overseas truly better than the ones in the States? Part travelogue and part rock and roll love letter, Rose takes you with her every step of the way: queuing in the rain, sleeping on the sidewalk, and watching Paul McCartney from the front row in London.”


Part of me wonders whether a non-Springsteen fan would enjoy Raise Your Hand. When the author mentions a specific song from The Boss’ oeuvre, being familiar with a fair share of his songs from the breadth of his career rather than just the hits is going to influence how well you “get” what is going on. When Rose says, “I never sing Born In The USA back home because I don’t want anyone to think I am one of those people who doesn’t understand what it’s really about, but it feels different doing it in Europe,” if Born In The USA is all you know and you’re “one of those people,” you won’t understand.

But my contrarian side argues that Raise Your Hand has the same qualities as all good travel memoirs. The author’s impressions of experiences in a place the reader might have never been. That the foreign experience is not only a different place, but also the world of music and that of a diehard Springsteen fan could as easily add to the reader’s experience.

And then you’ve got all the other qualities that make or break a travel memoir for me. Things like what the author learned about the world and themselves through the experience.  Sharing vicariously in the experience, both magical moments and logistical difficulties. For me, Raise Your Hand is also an inspiration to keep working toward actually doing a few music-themed travel adventures I’ve considered for myself.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

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