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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:

Side one

    "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

Side two

    "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.

   

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

    by deepsouthdoug on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 09:55:39 AM PST

  •  I was working in a record shop when GFAP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepsouthdoug, jabney

    came out. The resident guy in the shop who guided us to the stuff he said was great... and he was always right liked it... but it took a while and several albums for me to catch on... it was not until I was in L.A. and the Boss was playing in giant venues that I finally saw the band twice... (same gig different nights)... around Christmas in the early 80s... and they even did Santa Claus is comin' to town... great concerts...

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 10:25:02 AM PST

  •  I'm not into music, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    liz dexic, deepsouthdoug

    even including Springsteen.  But I truly enjoyed your diary.  You did a fantastic job of making me feel like I was with you throughout this process.  Great job.

    •  Thanks hayden (0+ / 0-)

      I tried to prevent from going overboard.  But I also wanted to show that sometimes it was a lot harder for someone to break through.

      The whole youth culture was ready to discover him, but in the early 70s he just never showed up in any of the media we were following.

      Bruce first flowered not so much by the mass media, but by word of mouth.  

      The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

      by deepsouthdoug on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 11:13:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The irony is that if you ask the average Joe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman, sngmama, RamblinDave

    about "Blinded by the Light" and "For You" you will get a Manfred Mann reference.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 10:45:00 AM PST

    •  If the average joe is 30 or 40 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman

      He probably doesn't know either song.  

      The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

      by deepsouthdoug on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 10:50:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll be 46 later this month. I know them (0+ / 0-)

        I know many people in their 30s and 40s who know them.  Some even know that Bruce wrote them.

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

        by zenbassoon on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 10:58:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But aren't all the people you know (0+ / 0-)

          above average Zen? ;-)

          Anyway, if you look at the number of YouTube hits for the tunes I posted, it suggests that the average YouTuber might not even know great Springsteen songs.  

          'For You' is a song that for me is about the beginning of my relationship with my wife. So that song is right up there as far as Springsteen songs go.

          The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

          by deepsouthdoug on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 11:07:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But to be honest, I've only heard the (0+ / 0-)

            Manfred Mann versions on the radio.  I haven't taken the time to search the YouTube for the Boss versions.

            "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

            by zenbassoon on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 11:10:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Even in Philly the Manfred Mann version (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deepsouthdoug, RamblinDave

      of Blinded by the Light gotr more airplay than Bruce's, at least back in the mid 70's while I was in college there.

      I told a friend years ago that I considered The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle to be the best rock album ever. In my opinion it even tops Born to Run, though that is one of the greatest rock songs ever.

      And in his prime, nobody was better than Bruce in concert. Nobody else had the energy to keep up with him. Just amazing. I saw him at the Spectrum a few times in the early 80's. They are the best concerts I've ever attended.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 02:13:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My crazy, pseudo-feminist moron ex (0+ / 0-)

      ...always made me change the station when Manfred Mann's version of "Blinded by the Light" came on.  Due to a certain misheard word in the lyrics (you know which one if you've ever heard the song), she considered it misogynistic. Of course, she also considered "Born in the USA" nationalistic. She was still a crazy pseudo-feminist when we broke up (and yes, that is why we broke up), but I did manage to talk some sense into her about those particular songs at least.

      Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

      by RamblinDave on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:07:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for that trip down memory lane. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepsouthdoug, kbman

    glory days for sure.

    "The Republican party primarily exists to represent the interests of business elites in the political sphere and redistribute power and resources to the wealthy. Its enduring values beyond that end have always been up for grabs." Gary Younge

    by politik on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 10:49:46 AM PST

  •  A fellow DJ at our FM station turned me on to it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepsouthdoug, kbman

    We all started playing it heavy. Ashbury Park was very popular down in Panama City Beach, Florida. Maybe it's a beach thing.

    We all stand submissively before the global ATM machine network like trained chickens pecking the correct colored buttons to release our grains of corn. Joe Bageant

    by Zwoof on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 10:54:43 AM PST

  •  So many memories... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepsouthdoug, kbman, RamblinDave

    I was very familiar with Asbury Park from the start. It got a fair bit of play on local radio.
     First saw Springsteen live in 1974 at American U. I was in HS,don't even recall why I was in DC at the time. (college interviews?family stuff? beats me) But I remember the utter joy of that performance clearly. Blinded by the light,indeed. Didn't play that then though. They did Rosalita and Elvis and Quarter to Three and ,and,and. Made me a fan though it was mostly a hidden,guilty pleasure. See,like Sheena, I was on the road to being a serious punk rocker.
    Great diary. Beautifully written.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 12:27:34 PM PST

    •   Actually when I saw him at the Guthrie in 75 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, kbman

      He didn't play 'Blinded by the Light' either, but by then end of the show I just knew he was the guy who I heard on the radio.

      I went to that concert thinking I had never heard a song by him. It was a great way to be totally blow away.

      The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

      by deepsouthdoug on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 01:01:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I always liked "Lost in the Flood" (4+ / 0-)

    Not sure if it's really about anything but I like the imagery.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 12:59:14 PM PST

  •  I love both those albums (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepsouthdoug, RamblinDave

    funny to look back and think that they were originally "flops"

    if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 01:23:08 PM PST

  •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepsouthdoug

    I was going to school in the Twin Cities when GFAP was released, and I'm guessing it might have gotten a couple of plays on whatever was the cool station at the time. Same with The Wild, the Innocent... when it was released that fall. When I sent back to South Jersey for the summer, though, Springsteen was getting loads of airplay on WMMR.

    I finally had a chance to see the band play in the fall of '74 when I was at Rutgers, and they played at a small theater on Livingston Ave in New Brunswick. Yes, that was rock and roll as a religious experience. They were playing everything from the first two albums and trying out some songs that went on Born to Run, and by the end of the show everyone in the theater was practically jumping up and down on their seats from the excitement of it all.

    By that point I had bought the first two albums, but the live experience in a small venue made me a Springsteen addict, along with an entire generation of New Jerseyans.

    •  I heard Blinded by the Light on KQRS (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RamblinDave

      When he played at the Guthrie, he asked if anyone was from Jersey?  The first two rows erupted in cheers.

      The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

      by deepsouthdoug on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 05:19:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm probably outvoted 100-1 on this (0+ / 0-)

    ...but I consider GFAP one of his weaker efforts. There are some great songs on there, but in my opinion he did superior versions of those songs elsewhere. Give a listen to the raw, acoustic versions of "Growin' Up," "Mary Queen of Arkansas" and "Hard to be a Saint in the City" on the Tracks collection, and the magnificent version of "Lost in the Flood" on the Live in NYC album.

    Still, one has to start somewhere, and I will say GFAP has held up better than most of what came out around the same time.

    Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

    by RamblinDave on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:11:22 PM PST

    •  I don't know about weaker (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RamblinDave

      More like first time beginner effort. My opinion is every album after that through at least Born in the USA - 10+ years is better.

      As a matter of perspective, GFAP is then being compared to some of the greatest albums in rock and roll history.

      One thing that a listener of GFAP would not get in 1974 is what a dynamic live performer Springsteen was.  

      He was signed as the next Dylan, and I think Columbia Records was pushing him to be folk. I remember Springsteen saying he had to fight to get the band in those early albums.  

      The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? William Butler Yeats

      by deepsouthdoug on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:39:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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