I was thinking about why I like what I like. I guess it's because I am reading the new Nick Hornby "Juliet, Naked" which is kind of all about music and our obsessions and how it affects our lives and relationships. It's a really good read by the way. So I have been thinking about how certain records have played a part in my "musical" life as well as life in general. Bruce Springsteen is certainly first and foremost in my musical thoughts for most of the past 30 years so I decided to start with him.
I was a little too young for Born To Run, in fact I was probably too young for Darkness on the Edge of Town, but as a 16 year old I found it by chance. My friends didn't care. Local radio wasn't buying into the hype at the moment. Not much stirring for a high school kid in 1978 on the Bruce front. Then I got my hands on a copy and things changed. Forever. Before this I was all about Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith (still like 'em too) but hearing this album changed the way I heard music.
I was the classic case of the "teenager". Mad at my father for whatever reason. Not getting along with my step mother. Mad at my mother for divorcing my dad (like he had nothing to do with it). I got over all of this soon enough, but at that particular time in my life I dropped the needle on Badlands and things changed. Here were feelings and thoughts expressed that I had and would continue to have. It's not always a rosy world out there and we need to get through. That and some killer rock & roll. I know these songs are over-played over the years, but they are for a reason. This album is just amazing.
Adam Raised a Cain voiced my feelings about my relationship with my father at the time. It screamed it out of the speakers and while I came to understand him over the years, much like Bruce does on Independence Day (an amazing track off of the River), this one spoke right to me at 16.
Something in the Night and Candy's Room have some screaming guitar and I love 'em both but the highlight comes at the end of side 1...Racing in the Street. What most folks hear as a song about a guy a girl and a car is all about the same redemption that we all seek. The question is will we ever find it. A simply stunning song.
Side 2 is loaded with concert staples: The Promised Land, Prove It All Night and Darkness on the Edge of Town. The first two all full of promise and hope. The latter searching for that chance that we all hope is out there. The battle rages on in each of our lives the question is will life's little victories be enough to get us through.
Even the out-takes, some of which will make The River, and some which don't see the light of day until the Tracks collection are so far above what was out then, or now, that the music continues to amaze me. I love a lot of what he did and I like most of the rest quite a bit, but for me this was the pinnacle of his career. And I keep going back again and again. Searching for that redemption...