Bruce Springsteen, the 64-year-old rock legend known for such hits as “Born to Run” and “Dancing in the Dark,” has announced plans to publish a children’s book based on the opening song from his 2009 release Working On a Dream. Outlaw Pete, written by Springsteen, is a collaboration with cartoonist Frank Caruso and will tell the story of a bank-robbing baby who attempts to “outlive and outrun his sins,” according to Bruce.
With the book, Springsteen will join the ranks of rock stars-turned-children’s authors which already include Madonna, Jimmy Buffett, and Carly Simon. Published by Simon & Schuster, the story was inspired by a classic children’s book also released by the publishing giants. Brave Cowboy Bill, originally published in 1950, was reportedly a book that Bruce’s own mother read to him as a child. Springsteen’s love of the classic western also inspired the original “Outlaw Pete” song.
The idea to expand on the eight-minute song and bring it to literary and visual life was apparently Caruso’s and not Springsteen’s, according to reports. Caruso explains that he envisioned a book version of the tale while hearing the song for the first time.
“The first time I heard the song this book played out in my head. Like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Dorothy Gale and, for me, even Popeye, ‘Outlaw Pete’ cuts deep into the folklore of our country and weaves its way into the fabric of the great American literary characters,” Caruso explained.
Bruce, who is known for his storytelling previously through songs like “Jungleland,” has not previously published any books, though the picture book doesn’t exclude Springsteen’s adult fans eager for The Boss to explore the world of authorship. Simon & Schuster president Jonathan Karp says Outlaw Pete is “a book for anybody who loves a good western. It’s for readers of all ages.”
Springsteen has been keeping busy as of late, releasing the critically-acclaimed and controversial Wrecking Ball in 2012, followed by a lengthy world tour in support of the album. This was almost immediately followed by High Hopes, a collection of previously unreleased and some newly recorded versions of live fan favorites and covers. Recorded mostly in collaboration with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, the album was well-received, and Morello joined Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band for yet another world tour to support it. While touring in New Zealand during one of their signature marathon shows, some lasting upwards of four hours, Bruce and the band performed a version of “Royals” by New Zealand’s own Lorde.
The tireless Springsteen, while staying relatively quiet since completing the High Hopes tour earlier this year, has stated that an expanded reissue of his classic double-album The River is currently in the works. Bruce is also reportedly at work on another writing project, though details are sparse at the moment. For now, Bruce fans young and old can look forward to Bruce’s new venture into the children’s book market. Springsteen and Frank Caruso’s Outlaw Pete will hit bookshelves on November 4.
Bruce is being said to be performing yet again at the Stand Up for Heroes concert at Madison Square Garden on November 5, as he does annually, though no lineup has officially been announced.