Darkness on the Edge of Town (Bruce Springsteen)

In albums on December 20, 2010 at 2:11 pm

1973 Album Cover, shot by Frank Stefanko.

What is it about The Boss? Seriously. I’m not bashing him, but the truth of the matter is I’ve never really found myself moved in any way by his music. And I don’t mean to say that I expect some deep spiritual awakening from The Boss’ full, whaling rock anthems. I guess  his music just doesn’t resonate with me.

Number 150 on the list is Bruce Springsteen’s fourth studio album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, which was released in Spring of 1973. I did a bit of digging to get a bit of context. I didn’t find much except that this album marked the end of a battle with Springsteen’s former manager, which lasted about three years.

In its original release, Darkness was a two-sided LP.

Side One

  1. Badlands
  2. Adam Raised a Cain
  3. Something in the Night
  4. Candy’s Room
  5. Racing in the Streets

Side Two

  1. The Promised Land
  2. Factory
  3. Streets of Fire
  4. Prove It All Night
  5. Darkness on the Edge of Town

I listened to the entire album,  both sides included, several times. Then, I listened to it in two parts (side one and side two). I noticed that there are two major stories on this album. One, of working hard and getting nowhere, and the other, of feeling free and feeling like there’s a clear road ahead of you. I’m guessing this has to do with the legal battles with their previous manager.

I’ve actually been resisting writing this blog entry (and its the first one!!!) because I don’t really know what to say about the album. What I noticed is that its raw. My gut reaction was “this sounds like Meatloaf”…but less refined and with less pow. The album feels a bit sluggish too, and I’m not sure whether that’s because of Springsteen’s distinctly full, chest-sound or the tempo, or maybe just a combination of both.

So, what did I like about the album? The intro to ‘Badlands’, for one. Its got a great classic sound with a piano and guitar intro that starts the next 40 minutes with a bit of a fanfare. Kind of cool. With the next track, ‘Adam Raised a Cain’, I became really resistant to the music. I don’t like the sound, I don’t like the feeling, and I don’t think its exciting or interesting. Harsh? I don’t know. Its just my gut reaction. But I guess it’s supposed to have that sound, so maybe that’s what the band wanted.

Oh, also. Bruce likes to sing about cars. Six of the ten tracks contain a reference to owning a car, racing a car, or being in a car.

Here’s what I think is interesting. After saying all of this, I get why its an important album in music history. This album was on the charts for 97 weeks but had no number one singles, or even high-charting singles, for that matter. And still, its got a really great classic rock sound. So maybe the class rock-piano riffs, combined with a simple harmonica and the legendary voice of Bruce Springsteen is great just because the music (although not especially “pretty” or “great” sounding, in my opinon) is something that people can relate to? Stories of hard work and not feeling the reward, and stories of late nights and your parents car, et cetera et cetera.

Whether I like Bruce or not, the fact of the matter is, this is a top album in music history (according to Rolling Stone, and VH1 as well). And although I don’t necessarily like this album (and I don’t want to listen to it again), I can hear in the music why its a big record. Its raw, its got a very “stripped” feeling to it, and so I think people can relate to it.

Thoughts? I’m open for discussion about this album…and I’d love to hear why people love it. Please share.

Oh and also, Bruce Springsteen just released a reissue box set including some DVDs and unreleased material from this album. Its called The Promise and was released on November 16, 2010.

  1. The adventure has begun!… Great start Bradz :)

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