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Mr. Springsteen pointedly refers to himself as a “writer”—not a songwriter, mind you, but a writer. Recently he was caught on camera reading, pencil in hand, a book called Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, a collection of short biographies of a dozen major philosophers. Though heart-warming to those of his fans who love the liberal arts, the photo was not shocking to devotees of Mr. Springsteen (a group that includes the author of this essay). Mr. Springsteen, who grew up in a house where the life of the mind was unimportant, and who only graduated high school, is an autodidact, whose has read more and more as he has grown older and whose interests have ranged from the fiction of John Steinbeck, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor to works on American history and music. This reading, along with the experience that comes with age, has naturally brought him increased wisdom and added gravitas to his lyric-writing. Bruce Springsteen: American Gadfly

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