Zine Review: Is a Dream a Lie If It Don’t Come True?: Becoming Bruce Springsteen by ak

Catboi Kropotkin apologizes for tearing into this zine moments before it was photographed. I promise I kept it positioned safely between the legs of an elegant bird statue until it was time to read it.

As much as possible in my own writing about music, I try to avoid comparisons to other artists and describing music in technical ways. The reason for this is that direct comparisons to other artists are more often than not lazy, but more importantly, lots of people who love music do not have the same amount of knowledge of other artists as me, and even more importantly, all sorts of people love music without understanding anything technical about it at all (myself largely included). My favorite music writing is what most music editors would call ‘diaristic,’ but what is valuable to me about music is the value that it has for the people who hear it–what it makes them think and feel and experience. I am interested in how music shifts individual consciousness, how music acts as a framework through which we process our own lives, and how music structures our interpretation of the world and our experiences. For all of these reasons, I love this deeply personal zine about the role Bruce Springsteen has played in ak’s transitioning process and struggles with their mental and emotional health and their physical body.

I became friends with ak on Twitter through their abolition work with Black and Pink and visible kinship with many people I enjoy in queer zine world. I didn’t really know them, so I was very excited when they posted about this Bruce Springsteen zine, because I have long had my own thoughts on the sort of “queerness” of Bruce Springsteen. My thoughts emerged from noticing how often queer women in music had chosen to cover specific Bruce Springsteen songs–“I’m On Fire,” “Dancing in the Dark”–which prompted me to make my primary position on Bruce Springsteen that he wrote a lot of very wonderful songs for women to sing to other women. Here are some examples of this phenomenon.

(He also famously wrote “Because the Night” and gave it to Patti Smith.)

No one on the planet can deny that “hey little girl is your Daddy home/ did he go and leave you all alone” is way hotter when a non cis dude sings it. ak’s perspective on the queerness of Bruce Springsteen, though, is extremely personal, written beautifully, and it got me to consider a lot of things I never had about Bruce himself. I keep wanting to write more, but it is a short zine, and I would rather you read it directly from ak than paraphrase it here. I will say: in response to the question the zine poses, and as a result of having read it, I don’t think dreams are truths or lies. Dreams are dreams and whether they become truths or lies depends on whether we are moving towards self-actualization.

Suffice it to say, this is my music writing ideal. Thank you, ak! Go buy their zine via rowdy boys zine collective.


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