Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1974)


 
1. Blinded By the Light 2. Growin' Up 3. Mary Queen of Arkansas 4. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street 5. Lost in the Flood 6. Angel 7. For You 8. Spirit in the Night 9. It's Hard to be a Saint in the City

 

Bruce Springsteen did not waste any time learning how to write and record incredible music. Coming out of nowhere (i.e. Asbury Park, New Jersey), Springsteen emerged onto the scene in the early 1970s similar to the way Bob Dylan did a decade ago. In retrospect, the two artists don't seem to share many similarities, but that wasn't the case early on in Springsteen's career. That's not to say they were identical by any means. Dylan was a countryish, folksie guy from the backwoods of Minnesota whose songs centered around introspection, deep personal observations and, later on, staunch politics. Springsteen's early records were about the streets of blue collar anytown, where kids never had much of future to look forward to, and mainly lived for Saturday nights in their small town with their rebuilt hot rods.

This first effort is mainly a lyrics album. The lyrics are quite amazing, and you can tell the twenty-two year old Springsteen had a ball with some of the gems on this album. To be honest, there are several songs here that I'm not sure what he's trying to say (although if I googled the songs, I'm sure I could find out), but it's a joy to hear the wordplay on songs such as Mary Queen of Arkansas and Blinded by the Light. His themes reflect his own upbringing, and although the characters would grow older, like the man himself, they never drifted too far away from the sentiments he sings about here. This was part of his appeal. He and the E Street Band were the blue-collar everymen that looked like they bought their clothes for the evening's concert at a garage sale down the street.

Although the E Street Band would change its members frequently throughout Bruce's career, they remain the most popular, well respected backup band in the history of rock and roll music. These guys were tight and it shows even on this first album. They weren't quite rock musicians yet, at least in terms of their sellout arena show performances a few years later, yet their playing seemed to incorporate many styles throughout their songs. It's hard to call gems like Lost in the Flood or Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?, truly rock songs, but, as stated before, the emotion due to the playing and the story telling is incredibly captivating.

The album art cover is a bit weird. Supposedly, Springsteen was trying to stop the record company from advertising that he was "from New York", so hence the title. A cheery postcard is nothing like what is represented in the songs here. This really isn't a bitter album either, however. Sure, he would get disillusioned a bit later on, and some would state he would stay that way throughout his career. This album seems to draw a lot from youth, innocence and the belief that a sixteen year old guy and his girl in the front seat of a beatup Chevy just might be able to find happily-ever-after in each other's arms. A great freshman effort.


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