Bruce Springsteen's 'Greetings from Asbury Park' was release 40 years today. By the standards of the record industry it was a flop. It sold about 25,000 copies in the first year.
Apparently on its release date the Partridge Family outsold The Boss (this would have been years before he was know as The Boss) in a local record store in his hometown.
That 'flop' was followed by the release of another 'flop' album (in terms of record industry metrics) in September. That was 'The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle'.
In 1973 I was a college student in Minnesota. I had spent most of 72 working for McGovern. That training gave me the idea to run for student body president in the spring of 73. I was one of seven lefties running against one righty. The righty won, which in the history of my life was a good thing because that set in motion a series of events that led to me meeting my wife.
But through all of 1973 I did not know that Bruce Springsteen existed.
The tunes on Greetings are:
"Blinded by the Light" – 5:06
"Growin' Up" – 3:05
"Mary Queen of Arkansas" – 5:21
"Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" – 2:05
"Lost in the Flood" – 5:17
"The Angel" – 3:24
"For You"– 4:40
"Spirit in the Night" – 5:00
"It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" – 3:13
A couple are special to me, "Blinded by the Light" and "For You".
Here's a great video of Springsteen and the E Street Band performing Spirit in the Night in 1975 on his Born to Run tour.
'The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle' was released and it did not catch on.
When I finally discovered it years later it became one of my all time favorite albums. It has what I think are two masterpieces:
The youth anthem Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) and Kitty's Back. The latter is to me the greatest jazz/rock song of all time. Springsteen uses his voice as a jazz instrument in that song.
As one review concludes:
The truth is, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle is one of the greatest albums in the history of rock & roll.http://www.allmusic.com/...
Perhaps my all time favorite live YouTube video of Bruce singing one of those masterpieces:
The year turned to 1974 and Springsteen was still not in my consciousness. The love of my life was though as my wife and I fell in love that spring. As young lovers we spent a lot of time in bed - like most of the day - naked. Ah, Glory Days....
That falling in love experience involved those long hours of discussions of what our hopes and dreams were - what our wants out of the relationship were.
One afternoon while we were snuggling she began talking about what was really important to her and over the radio came:
'Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat'
I'd never head anything like that. Who was it I thought as I listened to my girl.
"And it's important that you know...........I want babies," she said with a sense of vulnerability. Because in her mind the relationship couldn't go forward if I wasn't going to make babies with her.
"OK, baby," I said, "We will make babies." She sighed in relief and the radio played,"Yeah, he was blinded by the light."
Now this event happened - I can't say for sure if the chorus fell exactly on my girl's request, but it seems right because I sure was blinded by her light. Enough of going down this road. We're still together and the babies are 31 and 29.
Back to that spring day in 1974 and listening to this song that I had never heard before. It ended and as is the case with FM radio, they never said who sang it. So I still didn't know who Bruce Springsteen was.
That spring we dropped out, we made and lived in a tipi for four months, and then we spent the winter in a cabin in the north woods 30 miles from the Canadian border. We were pretty much not plugged in.
But the mail still came and I had a subscription to Rolling Stone. In the winter of 1975 there was a small ad for a new rocker that had a quote by critic Jon Landau, "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen."
Landau was a critic I respected. I made a mental note to look for this guy Springsteen. I looked for a Springsteen album all winter, spring and summer - never saw one no matter how many stores we visited.
Late that summer, the Minneapolis Tribune had an ad saying the future of Rock and Roll was coming to Minneapolis to play - at the Guthrie. If you're from the Cities you know what seeing Springsteen at the Guthrie means - it's an 1,800 seat theater in the round, designed so that whispered lines of Shakespeare could be heard in the back row.
I saw the ad and I thought about it. The ad ran the next week and I thought about it. Then Rolling Stone came out with a review of Springsteen's kickoff to his 'Born to Run' concert tour. I remember it saying this was the greatest rock and roll band in America and compared them to the Who and other rock heavyweights.
A review of 'Born to Run' written in 2011 puts that album in perspective. I agree with it and it says:
Born To Run is the best album ever written. It contains within its eight tracks the two best rock and roll songs ever written and three other songs that are damn close. The album cover is the best album art ever put on a record. This review does not reflect my bias of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, but rather my honest opinion about what I (and many others) consider to be the record that saved rock and roll music.http://www.absolutepunk.net/...
Based on that Rolling Stone in 1975 article I decided we'd go. We'd get some tickets the next time we were in the Cities the next week. By the time we got to the ticket office there were four left. We took two in the back row center left. The back row at the Guthrie put us 60 feet from the stage.
That concert was a four hour rock and roll religious experience. That night was the greatest live performance I've ever seen. It's worthy of a diary on its own - maybe on the 40th anniversary of that day I'll write one.
For now, I just want to point out to the community and the Springsteen fans that 'Greetings' was released 40 years ago today. Share any and all Bruce Springsteen thoughts and experiences you have.