cover image Mary Climbs in: The Journeys of Bruce Springsteen’s Women Fans

Mary Climbs in: The Journeys of Bruce Springsteen’s Women Fans

Lorraine Mangione and Donna Luff. Rutgers Univ, $24.95 (252p) ISBN 978-1-978827-18-9

Mangione, a professor of psychology at Antioch University, and sociologist Luff, both longtime Bruce Springsteen aficionados, debut with a revealing if narrow study of the New Jersey superstar’s female fans and how his rock music helped shape them. Based on surveys that aimed to “draw out the multiple dimensions of women’s connection to Springsteen,” the authors found that participants viewed the musician variously as a “friend,” a teacher providing a “moral compass,” or a therapist “in times of distress.” Fan anecdotes prove to be the most captivating part of the book: “when my husband lost his job during the recession,” explained one respondent, “... ‘Jack of All Trades’ felt like it was written for us personally and helped us to get through possibly the most difficult time of our marriage.” Such testimony lends credence to the authors’ assertion that “these aren’t just... songs: they are experiences of deep meaning amid turbulence, with Springsteen in a healing role.” While Mangione and Luff’s research study is somewhat hamstrung by its limited parameters—the results are based on two online surveys completed by less than 2,000 self-selected participants—it’s a welcome intervention in a field that often casts rock and roll as an overwhelmingly male cultural domain. Springsteen devotees and those interested in the sociology of rock fandom will find worthy insights here. (July)