Thursday, November 11, 2010

Classic Album Rewind: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king and a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything... (Bruce Springsteen - Badlands)

I'm getting very exciting anticipating the Darkness on the Edge of Town Box Set due this Tuesday. Let me just say that Darkness is my favorite album, along with Born to Run, of all time. In honor of the release I thought I would review why this is such a classic album.

If you are at all familiar about Bruce Springsteen, you know that after the breakthrough of Born to Run in 1975, Bruce went through a court battle with his manager at the time Mike Appel. During this three year ordeal Bruce wrote and recorded a lot of material, but did not release anything until 1978 and his follow up was Darkness. If Born to Run was Bruce's grand statement, Darkness was the mature response.

I grew up in the album era of music and there was a certain art to formatting the song order. For example the lead songs on each side were important and set the stage for each side. Alot of records may have had one good lead track in which case the other side didn't get played as much. The closing track on each side was nearly as important. Both Darkness and Born to Run, more than any records, had great starting and ending songs on each side.

Badlands - Classic Bruce; great lyrics, the band never sounded better, especially Max on this one, great clarence solo and guitar solo. A great song, that just inspires. The lyrics are classic; "I believe in the faith that could save me. I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it will raise me above these Badlands..."; this is always great in concert.

Adam Raised a Cain - This angst ridden ditty about the son returning home and realizing that "we're born into this life paying for somebody else's past". This is some of the most powerful vocals by Bruce ever caught on record. The guitar work is equally as impressive.

Something in the Night - The most underated Bruce song ever. I love this one. Bruce at his most emotional and vulnerable; "You're born with nothing and better off that way, Soon as you've got something they send someone to try and take it away". A great song to listen in a car; "I take her to the floor, looking for a moment when the world seems right".

Candy's Room - Awesome; this song hits you right in gut, with Gary Talents driving bass lines. The harmony singing with Bruce (by Bruce) makes the hairs stand up on your neck. The lyrics are great; you're not quiet sure if the singer is being cocky or just trying to convince himself; "She has fancy clothes and diamond rings, She has men who give her anything she wants, but they dont see, That what she wants is me".

Racing in the Street - This is the kind of song that Bruce is famous for, the story song. The song is beautiful ballad played on the piano; I love when the organ kicks in. The lyrics is a tale of street racer who meets a girl at one of this races. No happy ending here, they slowly drift away; "She sits on the porch of her Daddy's house, but all her pretty dreams are torn, She stares off alone into the night with the eyes of one who hates for just being born". Another cool thing about this song is that it is kind of the third in the street trilogy song: one being Martha & the Vandellas Dancing in the Street; two being The Rolling Stone's Fighting in the Streets. They all have the lyrics "summer is here and the time is right for _______ in the Street".

The Promised Land - Side 2 opens with Bruce on the harmonica and the fantastic Promise Land. This song is so hopeful and looking forward,"Working all day in my daddy's garage, driving all night chasing some mirage, pretty soon little girl I'm gonna take charge" and "There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor, I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm, Gonna be a twister to blow everything down that ain't got the faith to stand its ground". Another concert favorite.

Factory - This is the second song on Darkness about Bruce relationship with his father. The story is about how the factory gave men like his father reason to get up in the morning, a reason to live, but at the same time it seem to take something from them, like their soul. This song really tells why Bruce was so inspired to become a rock and roll singer and writer.

Streets of Fire - A lot of Bruce's song on this album sound like movie titles. Case in point, Streets of Fire. This is another emotionally, raw nerve song. Bruce lays it all out there "I live now, only with strangers, I talk to only strangers, I walk with angels that have no place".

Prove It All Night - This song just explodes after the slower Streets of Fire. The lyrics are about living in this very moment "You hear the voices telling you not to go, they made their choices and they'll never know what it means to steal, to cheat, to lie what it's like to live and die". Another song that really comes to life in concert.

Darkness on the Edge of Town - A great closing song. Another song about laying it all on the line, everything, one moment; "Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop, I'll be on that hill with everything I've got, Well lives on the line where dreams are found and lost". Bruce with some incredible insight; "Well everybody's got a secret Sonny, something that they just can't face, Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it, They carry it with them every step that they take, Till some day they just cut it loose, Cut it loose or let it drag 'em down".

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