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“Cover Me”: Rolling Stone Coverage of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, 1973-2007

by McGeary, Bryan J.

Abstract (Summary)
This study investigated how a hugely influential magazine, Rolling Stone, has covered one of popular music’s biggest icons in order to discover how the magazine fixes public memory and thereby creates celebrity. It examined how the magazine’s coverage of Springsteen changed over time; whether it corresponded to events in his career or personal life; what subjects it dealt with; the location, size and general tone of articles; and what recurring themes characterized coverage. Examined in the study were the magazine’s 387 articles about Springsteen and the E Street Band from their first mention in the magazine on March 15, 1973, until their most recent on June 1, 2007, when it reported that the group would reunite for an album and tour. A complete list of articles pertaining to them was obtained from the Asbury Park Public Library, home to a Springsteen collection including more than 4,915 holdings, such as books, song books, tour books, comic books, magazines, fanzines, Internet articles and academic articles and papers. Several major themes emerged in the coverage. His concerts were given a nearly monumental status, and his reputation as a live performer was regarded as nearly unparalleled. He was portrayed as a man who never lost his connection to his fans and his working-class roots despite his massive success. Later, he became the voice of the downtrodden and marginalized. The magazine’s coverage did not reflect the negativity that appeared in other places. Through its editorial decisions, Rolling Stone affected public memory of Springsteen. By taking a laudatory stance on him from the beginning and building upon that over the course of his career while at the same time downplaying controversies, the magazine presented a one-sided picture of him. This approach to coverage ultimately changed little during thirty-four years of coverage. By occupying its position as the premier American music magazine, Rolling Stone had the ability to make its version of him the legitimate, generally accepted one.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:public memory creation of celebrity bruce springsteen rolling stone magazine

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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