Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town
I was recently a guest on the Best Album Ever podcast, hosted by my friend Ben Helms on The Overthink Podcast Network, and we spoke at length about my favorite Springsteen album. We actually spoke for so long that the episode clocks in at 90 minutes, with about a half hour left on the cutting room floor! Who knew I had so much to say.
Our conversation touched on many aspects of the album, the artist and music, and referenced the 2010 documentary film The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, directed by Thom Zimny. The film is part of the special box set Bruce Springsteen The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story released in 2010, and uses interviews with all the band members, Producer Jon Landau and Engineer Jimmy Iovine, to chronicle the creation of the album, and provide insight into Springsteen the artist at that time in his career – well worth a screening.
In the podcast, I mentioned the first Springsteen concert I saw was on July 9th, 1978 at the San Diego Sports Arena. It was a revelation, and only the first of many Springsteen live shows I attended through the years. I looked up details about that show on Wikipedia, which notes that of the 12,000 available seats, only 6,339 were sold, barely half. The night before had seen similar attendance in Phoenix (7,783/12,000) and four nights earlier on July 5th the show at The Forum in Inglewood had sold out its 12,723 seats. Go figure San Diego!
I also referred to the band Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, who were contemporaries of Springsteen during the Jersey shore days and a kick-ass band in their own right. They had a great Soul/R&B/Rock sound fueled by their lead singer John Lyon, their horn section and Steven Van Zandt, who played guitar and produced their early records. Like Springsteen’s song Because the Night which became a hit for Patti Smith, The Jukes covered Springsteen’s The Fever on their first album I Don’t Wanna Go Home, and though it didn’t have the commercial success of Smith’s record, it’s a great version of the song. They covered a couple of other Springsteen written or co-written songs on this and their second album This Time It’s for Real, which is a great example of the Stax R&B influenced Jersey Shore Sound and even has The Drifters, The Coasters, and The Satins singing backup on three songs.
As I said on the podcast, I can’t choose an actual Best album ever – there are too many candidates and I don’t even like trying to make art competitive. But I do have favorites, and Darkness is certainly at the the top of my list most days, due in great part to the fact it was released during an important time of my life. There are many records from the mid- to late-1970’s which I hold dear. If you’ve never heard this one before, do take a listen, and this podcast episode is a great introduction. I hope you like what you hear!