"Brucey dreams life's a highway..."
Paddy's got him sussed.
'Cars and Girls' could have been a subtitle for this album.
As could 'Show a Little Faith' or 'There's Magic in the Night'.
I know that some will dismiss this as overblown and bombastic nonsense, Bruce is much maligned simply for being influential. His early work has been tainted, disassembled, often too easily dismissed as lumpy and grumpy, guilty by association with the pale imitators; the Bon Jovi's, the Meatloafs.
Way back when, in the early 70s, Bruce Springsteen was a contender, young, vital, full of piss and vinegar.
He had fire in his belly and much to prove...
He had a guitar.
He knew how to make it talk.
He had a car, a dream and faith in the power of dreams.
With cinematic vision he pitched a polemic that I could buy into.
There was romance in the rhetoric:
In the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets…
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
The discovery of this album was pretty seismic for me.
I remember it vividly.
I was 15.
I was in the dormitory at boarding school.
Just me and a mirror.
Checking that I was still there...
I used to talk to myself a lot.
Back to the confines of that dormitory: I think I was admiring the new shadow on my top lip when a song came on my little red transistor radio.
'Born to Run'.
Ane he spoke about escape with an irresistible emotional intensity:
Together, Wendy, we can live with the sadness
Pretty pivotal for me.
'Born to Run'.
The East Street Band were a potent force live but Bruce was aware that his imagining of that song
was well beyond their immediate capabilities.
"Live the limitations of a seven piece band were never going to provide me with the range of sounds that I needed to realize the song's potential. It was the first piece of music I wrote and conceived as a studio production."
Most of the songs were written on the piano to preclude lazy playing, to ensure open ended arrangements, the encourage the possibilities of sound.
It was during the initial recordings that Springsteen began his friendship with writer Jon Landau who was to become a massive influence on him.
"When I ran into trouble recording the rest of the album he stepped in and helped me to get the job done. We moved to the Record Plant in New York City and hired Jimmy Iovine to engineer. We stripped down the songs and streamlined the arrangements. We developed a more direct sound with cleaner lines."
Springsteen knew that the album would make or break him and took an age to craft it: 14 months in total, 6 months on the title track alone. It was well worth the wait. The album is an epic Wall of Sound. As overblown as it is ambitious; it unfolds like a film. I always think Hud, The Last Picture Show and finally West Side Story. Whilst the soundtrack is stellar, the wide screen narrative is familiar B movie fare; we follow hopeful, hopeless heroes whose dreams are inevitably dashed.
Clarence's sublime sax solo quietens things.
If you have never heard the solo please take the time.
It's worth a lifetime of 'jazz'.
There are three rounds.
Each increases in intensity.
The energy of the playing is scintillating.
The phrasing of the 3rd round W I L L B R E A K Y O U R H E A R T.
Unless you've a heart of stone.
Calm, then a pause...
Becalmed we refocus on the fate of the two protagonists, maybe the characters that we first met in 'Thunder Road'.
His previous album 'The Wild the Innocent and the East Street Shuffle' was populated by local eccentrics. The follow up 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' would place its broken, bitter characters in leaner, tougher times; in communities under siege, where people had to account for the damage done by dashed ambition. These folk had to meet their defeats head on rather than eyeing the horizon for escape and redemption.
As we are diminished by the years, so do we surrender to compromise.
It was 1975.
I was 15.
This music came from a different world.
A world that wasn't mine; but I was transported there nonetheless.
I was besotted, bowled over by Bruce and his romantic vision.
He might not have been The Future of Rock and Roll, but he was the future of my rock and roll.
I knew then, as I know now, that this was a landmark recording.
I knew then, as I know now, that this music was mine.
My Album for Life.