I was never that huge a Springsteen fan, right through Born to Run; I think I was just too much of a head-banger at the time. But when Darkness on the Edge of Town came out I snapped it right up and went and saw the tour in Toronto. A lot of his songs over the years just go right by me. But Darkness is a hell of a collection of songs, and that tour… OMG.

Darkness on the Edge of Town

There’s a lot of back-story here; Springsteen had been locked out of recording for three years by a legal fight with his ex-manager, and came out with a real chip on his shoulder. Quote: “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy – I wanted to be great.” At least for a while there in 1978, he got what he wanted.

Words can just not express how great a Springsteen show was, back in the day. They opened with a dark stage, then Springsteen hollered “Gimme some light!” A couple songs in, people were dancing in the eyes and he said “You guys gotta take it easy, you’re never gonna make it to the end.” Sometime in the middle of some song, he came down to the front of the stage and slowly, carefully, arranged himself into a guitar-hero pose, getting all the body parts in the right position just as the chorus came around, and ripped into a huge, arching guitar solo — he’s never gotten enough credit for his playing. Anyhow, the concert went on like forever and never let up for an instant. I wonder if anyone will ever play shows like that again?

Badlands, there’s nothing subtle about it, just a working man full of sorrow and hope, huge backbeat, big guitar line, unearthly singing.

If you’re a Springsteen fan you might enjoy his autobiography Born to Run; it’s doesn’t burn as bright as Keef’s but it’s sure educational, although it bogs down after Bruce gets rich.

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify. Video: An incendiary performance from 1978.


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June 05, 2018
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