The Promise of Bruce Springsteen

OK, enough maudlin self-pity. Time to Bruce up this blog!

1) Check out all the cool press coverage of the Toronto Film festival debut of Thom Zimny’s documentary film about the making of Darkness on the Edge of Town–highlighted by Bruce’s appearance and interview w/ actor Ed Norton on the intersection of his music and film. (nb: Zimny can be liberally translated from Polish to mean “cool”)

2) Amazing Bruce quote from interview w/ Ed Norton captured on Twitter by film critic of Dallas Morning News @chrisvognar: “Darkness was an angry record. I took the ten toughest songs I had. I didn’t want to cut that feeling.”

That certainly came through to me in 1978. I became a Bruce fan when Darkness showed me (and my adolescent hard rock ears) that Bruce wasn’t soft. Even the softer sounding songs hit you emotionally like a sledgehammer.

3) I’m fascinated by Jon Landau’s take on the 21 previously unreleased songs that are collected on a CD entitled “The Promise” within the box set re-release of Darkness on The Edge of Town.

As you may or may not know, The 3 year gap between BTR and Darkness was caused by a court order enjoining Bruce from working with Landau as his producer and a vicious court battle over the ownership rights to Bruce’s music–a battle fought with his original manager Mike Appel. When Bruce emerged, bruised but victorious, from that encounter, his worldview and writing style had become less romantic and more realistic.

Landau asserts that these 21 songs, written around this time period “really is the great lost Springsteen album. It’s the album that would have come out between Born to Run and Darkness.” It shows the transitions–and how things became so different.

4) What else am I looking forward to the most on the box set? From what I’ve read–here are the top 3;

A) The hard rocking version of my favorite Bruce song (check out this blog’s title) “Racing In The Streets”–squalling guitar by Bruce paired w/ Danny Federici’s stately organ.

B) On the live 1978 Houston DVD–“Prove It All Night.” A song many ignore on the album becomes a 10-plus minute barnburner live. I’ve only heard this version once in my life–sitting alone in my freshman dorm room in Philly, listening on a crappy FM radio to a simulcast of his ’78 concert in Passaic, N.J. I was a fan before that night–a fanatic Tramp immediately afterward.

C) The full band version of “The Promise.” This is the song that caused an outrage when it was left off Bruce’s 4 CD stroll through his vault of unreleased songs “Tracks.” Bruce then released a one disc version “18 Tracks” that included a version of the song with his vocal and piano. For many Bruce folks–“The Promise” is the Holy Grail of lost Bruce tracks–important for its insight into the changes between BTR and Darkness and exciting in and of itself as an artistic statement.

5) Don’t have HBO? Get it before October 7th so you can watch the premiere of the Zimny doc–The Making of Darkness. I have to admit–Bruce is being kinder to fan’s pocketbooks with this release. You can watch the doc on HBO and buy the unreleased 21 songs separately–either on CD or iTunes. I will, of course, be standing outside Soundgarden’s door when they open waiting to purchase the whole 3 CD, 3 DVD enchilada. At least folks have a choice this time.

I think all the publicity about how Bruce has been reaching a whole new generation of fans (exemplified by his Bonnaroo/Glastonbury performances) has made his braintrust a little more sensitive to the costs he lays on his fans– his original baby boomer fanbase might not flinch, but why alienate the kid who only started to listen to Bruce because Arcade Fire or The Killers started rhapsodizing about the influence Springsteen has had on their music?


3 thoughts on “The Promise of Bruce Springsteen

Add yours

  1. Thank you – I am a relatively new Bruce fan and totally emerging myself in his work. Words cannot say what a wonderful influence he is on myself and my own creative work.


  2. My first Bruce concert was in Geneva NY in 1975 and that was pure fun; young guys playing their hearts out and enjoying every minute. I was hooked then.

    I attended Bruce’s first concert on the Darkness tour, at Shea’s in Buffalo NY. The band walked on stage together with Bruce wearing all black, Clarence all white,they began by wailing randomly and loudly on their instruments for about 30 seconds and then they ripped into Darkness – the first song in a 3 1/2 hour set of raw passion and emotion and energy the likes of which I’ve never before or since experienced in a concert.


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