Bruce Springsteen Limited Edition Book: Free Shipping

“My copy arrived in the UK after about a seven week wait – but it was so, so worth it. I sat down and read the entire thing that afternoon. Despite having listened to bootlegs, watched endless youtube clips and garnered some idea of the sort of mythology that surrounded the tour, the first-hand accounts filled a lot of gaps for me. It must be great for those of you who were there to read it and reflect, but for someone who wasn’t I can’t stress enough how wonderful this was to read. I also really loved that there was a lot of writing about the Darkness album itself, and about fans’ reactions and first listens to it, which I found so fascinating. Darkness was the first Bruce album I heard, over 30 years after it was released, with full knowledge of the trajectory of his career, so that was pretty special for me to get some idea of what it was like at the time. So, in short – absolutely would recommend”

The Light in Darkness limited edition book.
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Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 Darkness on the Edge of Town TV Spots

The first spot is the new release Darkness spot, the second one is the pre-release teaser that ran on Saturday Night Live the weekend before.

Both of these 15 second TV spots courtesy of Dick Wingate. Dick was the product manager at Columbia Records from 1976 to 1978 and was instrumental in launching Bruce Springsteen’s fourth album,
Darkness on the Edge of Town.
You can read more about his contribution to the legacy of the Darkness era here:
Behind The Scenes of Darkness on the Edge of Town with Dick Wingate

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Earlier this year a student of mine asked who Bruce Springsteen was…

Darkness on the Edge of Town
Dr. Edward Mulholland

Light never shines more brightly than when it clears away darkness. I celebrated the New Year at a party I was never supposed to attend. I was to spend the night of the 31st with friends in Albuquerque and drive home on January 1st. Through the darkness of a broken down car shined the light of friendship and hospitality. I watched the Rose Bowl at a home known for its wonderful holiday parties, and the evening ended with a moment that will live long in my musical memory.

Earlier this year a student of mine asked who Bruce Springsteen was, when I mentioned a song of his. I almost rent my garments. But on January 1st in Albuquerque, a young self-taught guitarist gave my dream answer when I asked him if he knew any Springsteen, “I know every song he ever wrote.” I laughed condescendingly, and his dad and mom, die-hard music fans of my generation, said, “He means it. Try to stump him.” The young man, Kevin Cummings, is in his early 20s and forms part of a six-member band that is making musical headlines in Albuquerque, The Noms. After hearing his guitar recreate the entire opening piano solo of “New York City Serenade,” I ceased caring that my machine was a dud, stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of New Mexico. (This post is laced with lyrics. Indulge me.)

He sang every song I could name. He sang “Thunder Road” for his parents since it was a song from their wedding reception. We shared songs I hadn’t heard since I heard them on vinyl. (Hear “Meeting Across the River” on the radio lately?) And when it was nearly January 2nd, he sang his favorite, which also happens to be mine and my little sister’s, “Racing in the Street,” from my favorite album: Darkness on the Edge of Town.

When Bruce Springsteen was honored at the Kennedy Center a few years ago, John Stewart quipped, “When you listen to a Springsteen song, you are not a loser. You are a character in an epic poem… about losers.” True enough. But the epic that begins in the badlands, in the dim outskirts, has a destination, even when it’s only longed-for and never fully realized, and that destination is redemption. Even when we are faced with just a meanness in this world, when we are faced with debts no honest man can pay, my baby and me still have to ride to the sea, to wash these sins off our hands.

It begins in darkness and at the periphery. But by God’s grace it doesn’t have to end there. Because our God of light seeks out the fallen, enters the darkness, reaches out to the edge of town. I hadn’t noticed that until Kevin’s Springsteen set up the dominos and Pope Francis tipped one over. The Pope’s Angelus address on Sunday speaks of Christ going out to the periphery and reaching out to people rough around the edges. He chooses rude fishermen as apostles and preaches “in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,” where Isaiah said the people in darkness would see a great light. And that is where the Gospel always needs to start. That is why Pope Francis wants pastors to smell like their flock. They cannot fear the darkness on the edge of town. That is their starting point. The Easter litugy begins in darkness, outside the church. The light of Christ enters. So it must be every time, everywhere.

But there is more. My own soul is a town besieged by temptation and oft breached by sin. There is much darkness in me that I often close off from Christ’s light. My own faith cannot grow where I feel comfy in my belief. It can only grow under the flickering lamp posts of the periphery, where Christ does battle with the demons I fear to face. He does it because he is my brother, and nothing feels better than blood on blood, and if a man turns his back on his family, he just ain’t no good. He took the burden of sin upon Himself. That’s my burden. That’s my sin. And He calls me to live in the light, and not to fear it. He calls me to believe the surprising, amazing, staggeringly puzzling truth that I, who feel so undeserving, wasn’t made for darkness and loserville, hiding on the back streets, but called to live in a mansion on the hill.

And the greatest paradox of all is that I grow in light when I reach out to the darkness of others. I grow in strength when I admit my weakness and allow Christ to work in me, when what could have been despair becomes a prayer and a plea. Light never shines more brightly than when it clears away darkness.

I believe in the love that you gave me, I believe in the hope that can save me, I believe in the faith and I pray, that someday it may raise me above these Badlands…

* * *
Reprinted from the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College. Dr. Mulholland can be reached at

Celebrate the 2014 Bruce Springsteen Tour
Discover the light in the Limited Edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out!
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Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town 1978 TV Spot

The Darkness on the Edge of Town TV spot was developed to support the Darkness tour and album in the late summer and fall of 1978. The crazy part is that although we shot 4-5 songs live in Phoenix in early July, Bruce wouldn’t approve any of the footage except Rosalita. So even though the song was released 5 yrs earlier it was the only live video that was available for the spot. Earlier, in May, we did teaser ads on Saturday Night Live the weekend before the album release that only had the album cover and did use Prove It All Night. They were 15 seconds.

Dick Wingate
Dick served as CBS’ product manager for the 1978 “Darkness on the Edge of Town” album release
January 2014

Limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness, less than 120 copies left.
Focusing on Springsteen’s Darkness on The Edge of Town 1978 album and tour with amazing photos and stories.
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Overrated, Underrated, or Properly Rated: Bruce Springsteen

Born to Run (1975) There’s a particular brand of vanity that exists in certain kinds of young men between the ages of 19 and 27 where it’s vitally important to present a façade that is equal parts masculine, feminine, tough, and sensitive. For instance (and this example is purely hypothetical and not at all autobiographical), this certain kind of young man may drive around alone late on rainy nights — he actually chooses to drive when it rains because it is appropriately evocative for his inner emotional geography — while listening to Clarence Clemons’s sax solo on “Jungleland.” And when he feels himself starting to cry, he will look in the rearview mirror in order to stare at his own tears. He knows he will never tell anyone that he cries alone to the sounds of the Big Man’s titanic blowing, but he guesses that strangers will sense it, and this will make him appear soulful. (Forgive him. He is a little naive and very silly.) It doesn’t matter that the lyrics of “Jungleland” have virtually nothing to do with his life — he’s pretty sure that the only people for whom “kids flash guitars just like switchblades” represents reality are Danny Zuko and Kenickie. But this song is still his avatar, and he’s confident it always will be.

Because this person is a nerd, he will remember that a 25-year-old Bruce Springsteen painstakingly directed Clemons in the studio during the recording of “Jungleland,” telling him when to go up, when to go down, and when to hold. And he will wonder whether Bruce did this while staring at himself in the mirror. PROPERLY RATED.

Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) This was the first Springsteen record coproduced by his new manager and ex–rock critic Jon Landau, and it sounds like a record designed by a rock critic. The songs are shorter (rock critics hate jamminess), more cynical (rock critics hate sentimentality), and generally weighed down by undercurrents of depression and severe daddy issues (no comment). So, I guess I’m outing myself as a sucker for critic-bait when I say this is my favorite Springsteen album. It’s his best “guitar solo” record (see “Adam Raised a Cain” or any live version of “Prove It All Night”). It’s also the first, best example of Springsteen juxtaposing rousing rock music with miniaturist, miserablist, Middle American storytelling — which is to say, it kicks your ass and crushes your heart. PROPERLY RATED.

The River (1980) This is a double album that feels like two separate albums. The first record takes place during the day — the people in these songs go to work and then drink off the drudgery at the corner tavern. The second record occurs in the middle of the night. (Not to be confused with The Night, the romanticized nocturnal fantasyland of the early records. This night is black, cold, and silent, like that final jump cut on the Sopranos finale.) I listen to the first disc at least three times as much, mostly because I love how it splits the difference between Born to Run and Darkness. This disc contains some of Springsteen’s most exuberant songs (“Two Hearts,” “Out in the Street”) as well as his most direct gut punches (“Independence Day,” the title track). Then you have the second disc, which is so ominous and death-obsessed it manages to out-Darkness Darkness. (This is the side that Sylvester Stallone plays endlessly in Cop Land, because the big lug feels like a stolen car being driven on a pitch-black night.)

Initially greeted by critics as a masterwork and responsible for Springsteen’s first hit, “Hungry Heart,” The River was subsequently overshadowed by the records that surround it in his discography. Casual listeners will always pick up Born to Run or Nebraska first. But The River is the most representative of his entire body of work. UNDERRATED.

Nebraska (1982) I love Nebraska. I love that it contains my favorite Springsteen “hit.”2 I love that it has at least three deep cuts (the title track, “Johnny 99,” and “Used Cars”) that belong in the 98th percentile of Bruce Springsteen deep cuts. I love that it easily has the best cover art of any Springsteen album.3 I love that Bruce recorded it at home and on a four-track recorder, which makes Nebraska his Bee Thousand. I love that Kanye West likened Yeezus to Nebraska, because “Hold My Liquor” is essentially “Highway Patrolman” as sung from Frankie’s point of view. That said, we’re not here to figure out whether Nebraska is great, but whether it’s properly rated. This complicates the issue, because Nebraska is the go-to record for people who don’t like Springsteen because it’s not like Springsteen’s other albums.

Which is fine, except these same people then take the next step and declare Nebraska to be Springsteen’s “best” album, based on the (strange) criterion that an artist’s least characteristic work should somehow be considered superior to his most characteristic. I can’t allow this. (In my view, Born, Darkness, and The River are all better records.) Therefore, I must declare Nebraska to be ever so slightly OVERRATED.

Steven Hyden-January 2014

Limited edition Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness, less than 120 copies left.
Focusing on Springsteen’s Darkness on The Edge of Town 1978 album and tour, including highlights of the
New Year’s Eve Firecracker show and more!
Save on Shipping- January-March 2014
CLICK HERE TO SAVE NOW- The Light in Darkness
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35 Years Ago: Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness ‘Firecracker Show’

Dave Lifton
December 31, 2013

Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 tour in support of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ took him from clubs and theaters to arenas over the course of its seven months. But it came close to ending in disaster. On Dec. 31, 1978 — the second-to-last-night of the tour — Springsteen got hit in the face with a lit firecracker.

The show took place at the Richfield Coliseum outside of Cleveland, which has always been one of Springsteen’s best markets. The two-night stand was the third time on the ‘Darkness’ tour that he had played Cleveland, including a show at the Agora on August 9 which has entered Springsteen lore as one of his greatest ever. And at his first show at the Coliseum 21 days later, things went so well that, after the show, he, Steve Van Zandt and Clarence Clemons went back to the Agora to sit in on a few songs with their friend Southside Johnny.

But on this night, what was supposed to ring in 1979 on a good note turned ugly shortly after midnight. Following the traditional ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and a cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight,’ someone in the crowd threw a firecracker onstage. It glanced off Springsteen’s face and then exploded. Fortunately, he was only slightly cut, with a bandage under his right eye marking where he got hit. After Van Zandt, who was perhaps auditioning for his future role on ‘The Sopranos,’ had some choice words for the hurler, Springsteen took to the mic. The audio, combined from both soundboard and audience sources, is embedded below.

“Now, I asked everybody, as I’ve seen people hurt at shows with firecrackers before, you know,” he said. “I’m gonna ask you again because we’re gonna be here tomorrow night…and you guys have always been great in this town. I love coming here and we love playing here — that’s why we came on New Year’s Eve. And the only thing I ask is that people don’t do stuff to hurt other people and to hurt themselves and to hurt me and whoever else is up here, because we came here to play some rock n’ roll for you, and you guys paid your money so you…could listen without being afraid of getting hurt or blown up or whatever. So if anybody sees anybody throwing stuff…just tell somebody so we can get ‘em out. If you want to throw something, we’ll give you your money back and you can throw it outside and do whatever you want.”

Springsteen and the E Street Band continued with ironically, the next song on the setlist, ‘Point Blank.’

Limited edition Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness, less than 120 copies left.
Focusing on Springsteen’s Darkness on The Edge of Town 1978 album and tour, including highlights of the
New Year’s Eve Firecracker show and more!
Save on Shipping- January-March 2014
CLICK HERE TO SAVE NOW- The Light in Darkness
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There’s So Much That You Want… 17 Cool “Darkness” Collectibles

Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town broke new ground for The Boss in 1978. A counterpoint to the operatic elegance of Born to Run, the album was an angry, raw record that burst forth after a three-year hiatus. Because of its darker tones, some might call Darkness a difficult album, but despite this, it’s a cherished gem for many fans.

As fans, we all wish that we could own a certain precious item from Bruce Springsteen’s career. It could be a vintage concert poster from the Steel Mill era, a ticket stub from one of the legendary 1978 concerts, a rare Japanese promotional record, a mid-80’s promotional jacket distributed to selected industry people, even an original handwritten manuscript for Born to Run… And some of us are lucky enough to own such items. Below are seventeen cool collectibles from the Darkness on the Edge of Town era that will make any fan of Springsteen’s most powerful album be envious.

Peter Schöfböck and Eddy Wehbe

“Badlands” Sheet Music (U.S.)

1. “Badlands” Sheet Music (U.S.)
Originally considered as one of several potential sleeve artwork designs for the Darkness album, this classic Eric Meola photograph eventually made it onto the cover of the sheet music for the “Badlands” single, issued by Warner Brothers Publications in August 1978. According to Meola, the photo was shot during the summer of 1977, just a few days after Elvis Presley’s death, when he and Springsteen travelled from Salt Lake City to Reno together. It shows Bruce driving down a dirt road in a 1965 Ford Galaxie convertible, with heavy storm clouds looming in the sky above; an image that arguably would have mirrored the album’s content like no other. While copies are rather hard to find these days and consequently tend to fetch steep prices, this sheet is definitely an item worth tracking down for its sheer graphic impact.

2. “The Promised Land” / “Streets Of Fire” 7-Inch Single (U.K.)
Issued exclusively in the U.K., which was the only country in the world to release not just two, but three singles off the Darkness album. Unlike most other European markets, CBS London caught up on the concept of picture sleeves rather late (in October 1980, to be precise), so this 7-inch disc still came in one of their decidedly boring plain company logo sleeves. However, packaging aside, it still ranks among one of the rarest Bruce Springsteen 45s today, simply because a large portion of the British population was either unaware of or totally indifferent to its very existence, and hence failed to buy a copy.

“The Promised Land” / “Streets Of Fire” 7-Inch Single (U.K.)

“The Promised Land” / “Streets Of Fire” 7-Inch Single (U.K.)

“The Promised Land” / “Streets Of Fire” 7-Inch Single (U.K.)

3. “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” 8-Track Tape Cartridge (North America)
The only worldwide release of the album which – “due to programming requirements” – contains “Candy’s Room” twice, not to mention a totally different song sequence. This is the kind of information that “Ultimate Backstreets Trivia Quiz” questions are made of!

“Darkness On The Edge Of Town” 8-Track Tape Cartridge (North America)

4. 1978 Springsteen Promo Neon Sign (U.S.)
In the late 1970s, CBS Records utilized fancy neon sign displays to promote their major artists at U.S. retail stores. This cool Springsteen sign, produced as a marketing tool for the Darkness album, has now become an impossible-to-find rarity.

1978 Springsteen Promo Neon Sign (U.S.)

1978 Springsteen Promo Neon Sign (U.S.)

In recent years, only one has surfaced at an online auction of vintage rock ‘n roll memorabilia. “The neon lights were used by CBS a number of times for star acts in that era,” said Dick Wingate, the man in charge of CBS marketing for the release of the Darkness album. “They came from the sales department for support at the local retail level.”

1978 Springsteen Promo Neon Sign (U.S.)

1978 Springsteen Promo Neon Sign (U.S.)

5. “Prove It All Night” / “Factory” 7-Inch Single (Japan)
CBS/Sony Japan’s art department has always been famous for creating unique and pretty striking artwork for domestic Springsteen 7-inch releases, and in this particular case, they certainly used their “creative license” to the max. Why not take Frank Stefanko’s original front cover photo for the album, cut Bruce’s image out of it, and paste him in front of a New York City night street scenario for a more dramatic effect? That is exactly what happened; with the result being one of the oddest and most unusual picture sleeve designs ever known to the Springsteen-collecting community.

“Prove It All Night” / “Factory” 7-Inch Single (Japan)

“Prove It All Night” / “Factory” 7-Inch Single (Japan)

“Prove It All Night” / “Factory” 7-Inch Single (Japan)

6. “Darkness on the Edge of Town Is Platinum” Columbia Records Promo Poster (U.S.)
To commemorate the event of Darkness reaching certified platinum status less than four weeks following its release, Columbia Records had this awesome promo poster printed up, which featured a great posed shot of Springsteen that again was taken by Eric Meola. The same artwork was also used for an elaborate, two-page center-spread ad that ran in Billboard magazine around the same time. “The ‘Platinum’ shot was done during a session at my studio in NYC for potential use on Darkness,” said Eric Meola. “But my good friend Frank Stefanko’s wonderfully moody rose wallpapered bedroom shot won out — and deservedly so.”

“Darkness on the Edge of Town Is Platinum” Columbia Records Promo Poster (U.S.)

7. “Badlands” / “Streets Of Fire” 7-Inch Single (Italy)
Another case of a Springsteen single being widely ignored by the record-buying public, the Italian “Badlands” 45 – featuring a superb and totally unique color picture sleeve – has become immensely rare because it sold poorly when it was released. In fact, CBS Italy had so many unsold copies left as of October 1980 that they decided to give them away as “freebies” with the domestic magazine Music, adding special stickers to both the sleeves and A-side labels.


“Badlands” / “Streets Of Fire” 7-Inch Single (Italy)

8. “Last American Hero From Asbury Park, N.J.” Promo LP Sampler (Japan)
A Japanese exclusive, this promotional sampler was a part of the promotion for Darkness, yet, for some reason, only contained tracks from his first three albums. The black-and-white picture sleeve is the actual inner-sleeve photograph for the Darkness LP, taken by Frank Stefanko during the album’s photo shoot sessions. Limited to probably less than 100 copies, Last American Hero is one of the rarest Springsteen items ever, and arguably the rarest in this format.
Frank Stefanko’s photo is titled “Among the Cabbage Roses”
The sampler contains an insert with Japanese song lyric translations and the disc has special white “Sample” labels.

“Last American Hero From Asbury Park, N.J.” Promo LP Sampler (Japan)

9. December 1978 Winterland San Francisco Concert Poster (US)
Original art designed by Randy Tuten. Winterland 1978. ’nuff said.

December 1978 Winterland Concert Poster (US)

December 1978 Winterland Concert Poster (US)

10. Dylan/Springsteen (shared) CBS Promo Ad (West Germany)
A full-page ad promoting both Darkness and Bob Dylan’s “Street Legal” LP that ran in German music magazines in the summer of 1978. What makes it so special is the Springsteen-related text, which is nothing short of hilarious; from the boasting headline (“One Of Them Already Is A Myth. The Other Will Become One. You Bet!”) to the almost surreal description of the album itself, stating that it sounds “like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan had fathered a son together,” and raving about the “congruent octaves” in Bruce’s singing voice, which at times is “satirizing David Bowie’s theatrics,” while on other occasions “seems to drag behind the aggressive saxophone gallop on Jesus sandals” (we kid you not). Granted, CBS’ German marketing department was never known for holding back on the kind of over-the-top Springsteen hype that would even make former Springsteen manager Mike Appel blush, but they certainly outdid themselves here.

Dylan/Springsteen (shared) CBS Promo Ad (West Germany)

Dylan/Springsteen (shared) CBS Promo Ad (West Germany)

11. Darkness on the Edge of Town Promo Picture Disc LP (U.S.)
If there ever was something like a “classic” Bruce Springsteen vinyl collectible (apart from the legendary “script cover” promo version of the Born To Run LP), this is probably it. The full album in the form of a high-quality, excellent-sounding picture disc, released to radio stations and music journalists only, and never made available commercially.

Darkness on the Edge of Town Promo Picture Disc LP (U.S.)

Darkness on the Edge of Town Promo Picture Disc LP (U.S.)

According to Dick Wingate, who served as CBS’ product manager for the “Darkness” album release, no more than 1,000 of these were pressed, although you can easily find still-sealed ones on eBay every other week. Unfortunately for collectors, counterfeits have been in circulation for quite some time, which can only be distinguished from genuine copies by actually dropping the needle on them (the counterfeited version has much poorer sound), while a more recent (2008) fake Darkness picture disc LP is a lot easier to detect by both its notably different graphic design and the absence of the original white die-cut display sleeve and lyric sheet.

Darkness on the Edge of Town Promo Picture Disc LP (U.S.)

Darkness on the Edge of Town Promo Picture Disc LP (U.S.)

Darkness on the Edge of Town Promo Picture Disc LP (U.S.)

Darkness on the Edge of Town Promo Picture Disc LP (U.S.)

12. “Prove It All Night” (Live Version) 12-Inch Acetate (U.S.)
In the summer of 1978, Columbia Records had planned to release a promotion-only 12-inch single of two live cuts, “Prove It All Night” and the instrumental “Paradise By The Sea”, (as it was still called back then) from Springsteen’s July 1 show at the Community Auditorium in Berkeley, Calif., for radio station airplay; with Darkness sound engineer Jimmy Iovine being on hand to professionally record and mix the material. Unfortunately, the project never got any further than this super-rare, one-sided acetate pressing, although both tracks eventually were distributed to radio DJ’s in tape form. The recording contains a powerfully raw and dynamic performance of “Prove It All Night” complete with its famous extended piano/triangle/guitar intro. The fact that it was not included on the “Live/1975-85″ box set – or at least issued as a single B-side – remains something of a mystery to this day. Our picture shows one of the sleeve stickers produced for the acetate.

“Prove It All Night” (Live Version) 12-Inch Acetate (U.S.)

13. September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre Marquee (U.S.)

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre Marquee (U.S.)

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre

Literally “highlighting” Bruce’s legendary three-night stand at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey from September 19 to 21, 1978 (the first show of which was broadcast and subsequently bootlegged as “Pièce De Résistance”), the awesome marquee designed by artist/fan Arlen Schumer now is almost as famous as the concerts themselves.

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre Marquee (U.S.)

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre

One half of the actual two-part marquee used to be on display at Billy Smith and Stephen Bumball’s “Asbury Park Rock’n Roll Museum” (which closed in 1988) and was later acquired by a private Springsteen collector, who eventually sold it to the owner of Denver music shop “Twist And Shout” (the other half apparently now resides in a private collection in New Jersey). Several cool photos taken outside the Capitol at the time the shows took place (as well as Arlen’s original artwork) can be viewed online at his official website,

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre Marquee (U.S.)

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre Marquee (U.S.)

September 1978 Passaic Capitol Theatre

14. Darkness on the Edge of Town CBS/Sony Promo Ad (Japan)
Featured in popular Japanese pop/rock magazines such as Music Life, this handsome little ad depicted a particularly cool 1978-era Lynn Goldsmith “personality” shot of Bruce not widely published elsewhere, though CBS/Sony Japan did use the original color version of this same photo for their mega-scarce Darkness promo poster.

Darkness on the Edge of Town CBS/Sony Promo Ad (Japan)

Darkness on the Edge of Town CBS/Sony Promo Ad (Japan)

15. “Badlands” Original Mock-Up Album Sleeve Art (U.S.)
The photographs were taken by Eric Meola in 1977 and were considered for the Darkness on the Edge of Town album’s front and back cover art. The Bruce photograph was shot at Meola’s studio in NYC for potential use on the album cover art, but the eye-patched Clarence Clemons photo, which oddly ended up here, was shot for Clarence personally.

“Badlands” Original Mock-Up Album Sleeve Art (U.S.)

[Part #1: The prototype and its title]
These vintage cover paste-ups come from the Columbia Records art department and are a very early concept design dating from October 1977. At this stage, the album’s proposed title was “Badlands”, but Springsteen would later change it to Darkness on the Edge of Town reportedly because Bill Chinnock released an album titled Badlands in early 1978.

The early album track list included “Independence Day” (later released on “The River”) and “Don’t Look Back,” which was replaced at the last minute for the title track and remained unreleased until 1998 when it was included on the Tracks box set. “Candy’s Room” was still under the work-in-progress title “Candy’s Boy.” “Adam Raised A Cain,” “Something In The Night,” “Factory,” and even “Darkness On The edge Of Town” were not on the album track list at that stage.

“Badlands” Original Mock-Up Album Sleeve Art (U.S.)

[Part #2: Other alternate covers]
There have been other alternate covers as well, including the Meola photo used for the above-mentioned “Badlands” music sheet, and others that are similar to what was eventually released. A print proof with the title “Racing in the Street” and standard Frank Stefanko cover shot has also surfaced.

“Badlands” is also the title of a 1973 Terrence Malick’s film that later inspired Springsteen’s Nebraska, but that’s not all there is to the story. After the release of Born to Run, Jon Landau introduced Springsteen to classic movies. To find a title for the new album, the two jokingly went through Andrew Sarris’s book “The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968.” Springsteen picked “American Madness,” a 1932 Frank Capra film, while Landau selected “History Is Made at Night,” a 1937 Frank Borzage film. As far as it’s known, no artwork utilizing either of these two titles was ever produced.

“Badlands” Original Mock-Up Album Sleeve Art (U.S.)

16. Darkness on the Edge of Town Reel-To-Reel Tape (U.S.)
One of only four Springsteen albums officially released in this format, this vintage 7-inch, 4-track reel playing at 3 ¾ inches per second and housed in a nifty cardboard picture box is still very popular with collectors even in our hi-tech times of digital media.

Darkness on the Edge of Town Reel-To-Reel Tape (U.S.)

Darkness on the Edge of Town Reel-To-Reel Tape (U.S.)

Darkness on the Edge of Town Reel-To-Reel Tape (U.S.)

17. “Badlands” / “Candy’s Room” 7-Inch Single (Holland/France)
It’s “Bruce Springsteen, guitar semi-god” on the picture sleeve for this outrageously elusive 45 single, which was a Dutch export pressing made for exclusive distribution in France and marks the only worldwide appearance of “Candy’s Room” on a single of any format. Don’t expect to get back much change from your $1,000 or thereabouts if you manage to locate a copy.

“Badlands” / “Candy’s Room” 7-Inch Single (Holland/France)

“Badlands” / “Candy’s Room” 7-Inch Single (Holland/France)

“Badlands” / “Candy’s Room” 7-Inch Single (Holland/France)

“Badlands” / “Candy’s Room” 7-Inch Single (Holland/France)

Peter Schöfböck and Eddy Wehbe
December 12, 2013

I became a Bruce fan in early 1987, after listening to the Roxy 1975 live version of “Thunder Road” from the “Live/1975-85” box set (a copy I borrowed from my sister-in-law out of pure curiosity what all the hype surrounding it was about). Didn’t care much about Springsteen before that. I started to get seriously into collecting in the early 1990s; mainly inspired by Chris Hunt’s “Bruce Files” in the “Blinded By The Light” book. Originally I bought stuff through small ads in “Goldmine” and “Record Collector” magazines as well as at local record fairs. Many items also were purchased from “Badlands” in the U.K. I created the Lost In The Flood collectors’ website together with my partner-in-crime Alf Weber in October 2001. In early 2013, after 20+ years of collecting, I decided to quit that little “hobby” and sell my collection.
Fave song on “Darkness”: “Something In The Night”
Fave Springsteen show of all time: Winterland 12/15/78, though I personally do believe that Bruce’s first solo acoustic tour for The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995-97) was just as important a tour in his career as the 1978 one.
Peter Schöfböck

Darkness on the Edge of Town was released long before my parents had even met, which explains why I’ve been a Springsteen fan for only twelve years, and a collector of his releases for less than eight. It all starts with a good-looking picture sleeve or two before the obsession takes over and you feel the need of owning every variant of every release Springsteen has put out. Much credit goes to Peter Schöfböck’s Lost In The Flood website which has played a major role in this story. Because Darkness is the dearest to my heart, some of the most treasured items in my collection come from that era: the above-mentioned “Last American Hero” promo LP and the “Badlands” mock-up album sleeve to name a few. Now, when will I have the Passaic Capitol Theater marquee hanging on my bedroom’s wall?
Eddy Wehbe – Springsteen Lyrics web site:

Special thanks to: Steen Andersson, Alessandro Cattaneo, Dan French, Eric Meola, Yosuke Ono, Mike Simpson, Jyrki Virta, and Dick Wingate

The Light In Darkness book documents the 1978 Darkness on the Edge of Town tour through a collection of amazing photographs, essays and collectibles submitted by fans who, each in their own way, have strong emotional connections to and recollections of this album and or tour.
Celebrate the 2013 Holiday Season with Bruce Springsteen.

Discover the Limited Edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness. The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out! Buy now and save on shipping. The book is not sold in stores.

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35 ans déjà que Bruce Springsteen enflammait le Forum de Montréal à l’occasion du “DARKNESS TOUR “


Montreal Forum Springsteen Concert Poster: November 8, 1978

Il y a 35 ans le 8 Novembre 1978, je me présente, avec ma copine, au Forum de Montréal pour assister au concert de Bruce Springsteen. J’avais raté sa précédente visite à Montréal à la Place des Arts le 19 Décembre 1975, mais on m’en avait dit le plus grand bien .

J’étais prêt car j’écoutais constamment depuis quelques mois les albums ” Born to Run ” et ” Darkness on the Edge of Town” . De plus, étant photographe amateur j’avais l’intention de prendre des photos avec mon Nikkormat et surtout utiliser ma lentille Nikor de 300 mm.

Mes billets : première rangée ,deus sièges à l’extrémité de la rangée. Endroit idéal pour prendre des photos, si on me le permettait, mais très difficile pour les tympans d’oreille puisque nous avions un immense haut-parleur à peine quelques pieds devant nous. Des sièges extraordinaires!

Ma seule crainte était celle de ne pas avoir apporté assez de pellicules photographiques : deux seuls films de 36 poses! Être à court de pellicule constitue le cauchemar de tout photographe je pense …Ce cauchemar, je l’ai vécu tout au long de cette soirée magique! La foule est nombreuse et fébrile. Tout juste avant que les lumières s’éteignent et que Bruce et le E Street Band ne s’installent, je sens que la soirée sera fantastique et qu’un grand moment est sur le point de se produire.

Les lumières s’éteignent et voilà on y est …


Bruce Springsteen, Montreal 1978
© Jean Garon

Ça démarre très très fort avec “Badlands” . Je suis renversé et ce n’est que la première chanson. Je dois me calmer car sinon je vais avoir épuisé mes deux rouleaux de films en deux chansons seulement. Je suis en train de devenir sourd, mais ce n’est pas important .Ma copine essaie de me parler mais je suis subjugué par la performance de Bruce et de ses musiciens.

Alors défilent les chansons “Streets of Fire”, “Spirit in the Night” , “The Ties That Bind”, puis la très attendue “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. Là on atteint un très haut niveau. Suivent ” Independence Day”, “The Promised Land”, “Prove It All Night”, “Racing in the Street”, “Thunder Road”. Moi qui n’était pas friand du saxophone, je le suis devenu ce soir-là ! Je me suis même demandé si je rêvais car ce spectacle dépassait mes espérances. Quelle intensité depuis le tout début !La foule est en délire et renversée .Je dois revenir à la raison car il ne me reste que quelques photos à prendre.


Bruce Springsteen, Montreal 1978
© Jean Garon

“Jungleland”, “Fire”, “Candy’s Room ” que j’attendais avec impatience . Je cesse de photographier car je veux apprécier moi aussi le spectacle. “Because the Night ” suit et j’en oublie très rapidement la version de Patti Smith. Puis ,un de mes grands moments de la soirée survient “Point Blank”. Cette version LIVE est extraordinaire. La version studio ne paraîtra que deux ans plus tard sur l’album The River, mais je la trouve moins intéressante . Bruce Springsteen, c’est en concert que ça se passe et pas uniquement en studio ! Quelle intensité ! Bruce est le plus grand “performer” et c’est incontestable !

Suivent “Mona/She’s the One”, “Backstreets”, “Rosalita “. Le public est sidéré et en redemande, et Bruce livre la marchandise avec satisfaction. Le concert est terminé mais la foule réclame Bruce et son groupe le E Street Band. Je suis épuisé mais eux le sont beaucoup plus que moi. Quelle joie d’être présent au Forum ! Il ne me reste plus que 4 ou 5 photos à prendre et le rappel s’en vient. Quel rappel !! “Born to Run ” pour débuter. Ce n’était une surprise pour personne mais ça fait un effet bœuf ! Puis ‘Detorit Medley ” alors là je suis complètement KO, ayant toujours été un grand fan de Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels. Bruce est debout sur un haut-parleur et déchire sa chemise. Je suis totalement assommé. Quelle énergie après plus de 3 heures de spectacle ! Pour moi le moment le plus fort vient de se produire. Tout le monde est exténué. D’où leur vient toute cette énergie ?


Bruce Springsteen, Montreal 1978
© Jean Garon

Une dernière chanson “Quarter to Three “. On ne peut en demander plus. Le concert dure depuis presque 3 1/2 heures, mais toute bonne chose a une fin comme on dit … Personne ne peut se frotter à Bruce Springsteen sur scène ! PERSONNE !
Je suis sorti du concert presque sourd pour les trois jours à venir, mais combien heureux ! J’étais en état de grâce. Ma copine , qui préférait depuis toujours le Jazz et l’Opéra au Rock, était totalement emballée.
Je ne pouvais être plus heureux.
Merci Bruce et merci le E Street Band pour cette soirée mémorable.

Jean Garon

P.S. Je ne suis ni un journaliste professionnel ni un photographe professionnel, alors je requiers de votre part un peu d’indulgence pour cet article et pour les photos l’accompagnant.


Montreal Forum Springsteen Ticket: November 8, 1978


Bruce Springsteen, Montreal 1978
© Jean Garon

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My First Bruce Springsteen Concert

My first Springsteen show was September 12, 1978 in Syracuse, NY, at the Onondaga County War Memorial. I remember times were tough. I was working for $4/hour, with a college degree. I had a chance to buy front row tickets, and didn’t, I regretted it the next day, and ever since. The next day I was still thinking about Springsteen’s frenetic energy, and the way Jungleland and my other favorites at the time,
seemed even better than on the “Born To Run” record album.
Being a new and excited Bruce Springsteen fan was a big deal. I kind of had this feeling I was gonna meet this guy that felt about a lot of things the same way I did.
I was still playing a lot of tracks like 10 times a day. The Darkness album was something I held a little closer than the other records; it seemed more personal.
My friends kind of huddled together in little groups of pre-concert parties, myself included. When I got to the show, things started moving real fast. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the concert and was wishing I could get replays. I was excited. I wish my mind had been practicing to be like a recording machine so that I could remember the whole show in all it’s details.
One of my friends got front row. Bruce was climbing up on a speaker that looked like a high climb to get to the top. He gave a glance like he might need some help.
My friend got up on stage and helped Bruce get to the top of the speaker. How cool was that?!
Rob Wagner

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Meet the Old Boss: Bruce Springsteen Revisits Darkness

Peter Birkenhead

On May 26th, 1978, Resorts International opened the first legal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town was released one week later.

No, Bruce and the E Street Band hadn’t planned to punctuate the dawning of a new era with their record. They probably never noticed the coincidence. But in the new documentary The Promise: the Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, you can see that the album was an attempt to articulate a confrontation with what Springsteen called “the dark heart of a dream,” the rot that was already capturing, and about to eat away at, the promise of America.

Filmmaker Thom Zimny has unearthed and assembled long-forgotten footage of rehearsals and recording sessions shot in the studio from 1976-1978, and cut it together with commentary from Springsteen and his band mates to create an experience that is intimate in perspective and bracingly expansive in scope.

In the film, Springsteen talks about “the promise of rock and roll” and the sense it can provide of “the never-ending now.” He’s talking about the heightened, sometimes transcendent immediacy a good three minute song can deliver, but he could also be talking about the experience of making, or listening to, or watching him make, Darkness on the Edge of Town, a record in the most literal sense, of a personal actualization and a pivotal American moment.

“More than rich, more than famous, more than happy, I wanted to be great,” Springsteen says, and his record bears him out. The Promise provides a fly-on-the-wall look at the creative process of a possessed, controlling, almost excessively talented artist at the most decisive point in his career. A three-year song-writing bender unfolds before our eyes. We see Bruce pull a seemingly endless supply of ideas, rough drafts and fragments from his ratty old notebooks. We cringe as he shouts at the band to “shut the fuck up!”, laugh as Steve Van Zandt and Roy Bittan place bets on how many takes the Boss will insist on at the next day’s session, and in one particularly revealing scene, watch slack-jawed as Springsteen barks the word “Stick!” over and over, and an obviously spent Max Weinberg repeatedly lifts and drops a drumstick, trying to hit his snare in a way that will satisfy his deranged taskmaster’s demand for the perfect, “stickless” drum sound. “Drum sounds were always bigger in my head,” the now smiling and much healthier-looking Springsteen says in commentary.

But it’s the songs, more than anything, that make the film so arresting. A quiet, powerful sense of their emotional authenticity, thematic unity, and wider resonance slowly accrues over the course of the documentary, just as it does on the record. It was on the following album, The River, that Springsteen would articulate the question, “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” but he begins to ask it on Darkness. Born to Run’s grand, “wall of sound” canvas was perfect for a kid with big dreams, but Darkness was made by a grown up asking new questions, and it has a much more stripped-down, grounded sound that is somehow hugely cinematic. No other records were speaking its language or asking its questions in 1978. Saturday Night Fever was all over the radio. And Grease. And a bunch of good records from Elvis Costello and Warren Zevon and Talking Heads. But London Calling was still a year away, and until it arrived, Springsteen was pretty much on his own, creatively. The United States was in the midst of a recession, an energy crisis, and what President Jimmy Carter would call a “crisis of confidence” in what came to be known as his “malaise” speech, although he never uttered the word.

And just around the corner lurked Ronald Reagan, voodoo economics, lots more casinos in Atlantic City, a far more devastating recession, collective national delusion and thirty years of the kind of darkening of the American consciousness Springsteen was inveighing against on his record. In his speech, Carter said:

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One … leads to fragmentation and self-interest … a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others … one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility … All the promises of our future point to another path … of common purpose. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves.

The “true freedom” Carter was talking about, the freedom afforded by a capacity for honest self-refection and an awakened consciousness, was the subject of Darkness on the Edge of Town, released a year before the President’s speech. In 1978, American culture was just beginning a tentative examination, through the prisms of Vietnam and Watergate, of the country’s myriad mid-century sins. The question in the air was whether we’d have the courage to keep looking.

Springsteen was only 27 when he made Darkness. He was still a scrawny, hyper-kinetic manchild, playing four sweaty hours a night. But he had already begun to write about the freedoms, limitations and responsibilities of adulthood on Born to Run, already declared to the world that “I’m no hero, that’s understood.” And Born to Run brought him the kind of success that can stop a career dead in its tracks. Soon after critic Jon Landau (his future manager) famously anointed him “The Future of Rock and Roll,” Springsteen was caught up in a protracted legal battle over publishing rights with his manager, Mike Appel, which kept him from recording or releasing any music for the next three years. And he was wrestling with his own demons, many of them products of his stormy relationship with his father, a volatile, tragic but inscrutable figure in his life. So it made sense that this young, scruffy boardwalk rat might be called “Boss” before his time, and, once he was allowed back in the studio, make a record that was a fierce, clear-but-bleary-eyed look at the hard truths of modern American adulthood.

He spent those years touring and rehearsing with the E Street Band, (one of the many pleasures of re-listening to Darkness is discovering the ferocious musical command they developed during this period) and writing song after song about “how to carry our sins,”– the sins of our fathers, the burden of guilt, the temptations of living the kind of unconscious life “where no one asks any questions, or looks too long in your face,” and the desperate necessity of “heading straight into the storm,” defying the darkness and honoring, as he says in the film, “Life. The breath in your lungs:”

For the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside / That it aint no sin to be glad you’re alive. / I wanna find one face that aint looking through me / I wanna find one place, I wanna spit in the face of these / Badlands.

The album is beautifully haunted, full of rage against the broken promises of America life, but it’s also full of hope, as each song’s narrator invariably reclaims those promises for himself:

I’ve done my best to live the right way / I get up every morning and go to work each day / But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold / Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode… / The dogs on main street howl, / ’cause they understand, / If I could take one / moment into my hands / Mister, I ain’t a boy, no, I’m a man, / And I believe in a promised land.

In the film, Springsteen talks about wanting to write songs that were “angry, rebellious, but adult.” About the sense of loneliness he wanted to evoke, the sense of something more, “something in the night,” within himself and in the world, that seemed to require something essential from him. As we watch his commitment towards that force deepen, a sense of what’s happening in the world just outside the studio seeps in to the film, and it becomes clear that Darkness on the Edge of Town is a record of American reckoning, an accounting of the steep, dreadful costs of unconsciousness and the fulsome, liberating rewards of opening our eyes.

Springsteen never stopped writing during his forced hiatus. By the time the album was released he had written and recorded five times more songs than he ended up using on the record. (Twenty-one of those tracks were released by Columbia as a two-CD set, as “The Promise.”)

Most of the film is made up of footage shot in the 70′s by Barry Reebo, a friend of the band’s who used to follow them around the New Jersey club scene. Reebo apparently had a particular talent for making himself invisible while hanging around the studio during the Darkness sessions. Throughout the film, Springsteen and the band members seem entirely unself-conscious, clearly oblivious to Rebo’s presence, and completely immersed in the work at hand.

The record comes alive in a whole new way in the film, as the personalities of the band members, musical and otherwise, reveal themselves. Max Weinberg’s drumming is a massive, martial heartbeat, booming against the ribs of the songs in fear and defiance.

The interplay between Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt lives up to the legend of their friendship, in scenes like one in which they crack each other up as Bruce bangs out an elusive riff (which would later become “Sherry Darling,” from The River) on a piano while Miami Steve yelps adlibbed lyrics and drums accompaniment on a rolled up carpet.

And keyboardist Danny Federici, who died five years ago, speaks with short breath and visible love for his friends and their work. He contributed the film’s, and the album’s, most indelible musical moment: the plaintive solo at the end of “Racing in the Street,” a customarily swirling, keening wail made of equal parts lonesome calliope, funeral dirge and call to the faithful. It’s an incongruously light moment in a dark song, one that lifts it to a whole new place and magnifies the compassion with which Springsteen renders its narrator.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is full of that kind of light. Streetlamp light, early morning porch light, the dim, hot, cigarette light of vigil, lonely rage and yearning.

Rock & roll too often condescends to, ignores or sentimentalizes the everyday life of the people who move in and out of that light, who populate the highways, bars, and factories of these songs. But on Darkness on the Edge of Town they have their eyes wide open, bravely looking a hard life right in the face. And now as we listen to this haunted record again they haunt us. As we look back through the dark haze of thirty five years, and see them daring America to live up to its promise, it’s hard to escape the feeling that they’re somehow daring us to do the same.

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Bruce Springsteen: Five-star Flashback ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’

Bruce Springsteen: Five-star flashback ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’

The “Listen Again” series went over well enough here in the Los Angeles area that your favorite rockin’ record reviewer decided to follow the lead of some L.A. TV execs and do a spin-off. In this series we once more examine previously-released albums but the platters we shall peruse in this particular series will be Rolling Stone magazine five-star albums. In this edition we discuss Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town.

For those of you not up on your rock history, Bruce (Frederick Joseph) Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949. Springsteen, nicknamed “The Boss,” is an American singer-songwriter. He often works with the E Street Band and is best known for his heartland rock signature sound and his Americana monologues about growing up in his birthplace of New Jersey.

His work to date has included commercially successful rock recordings as well as folk-oriented albums. One of his most critically-acclaimed studio albums was his fourth album Darkness on the Edge of Town. In October of 1977 Springsteen (lead vocals, lead guitar and harmonica) stepped into the recording studio. He was backed by The E Street Band then comprised of :Roy Bittan (piano and vocals), Clarence Clemons (saxophone and vocals), Danny Federici (organ and glockenspiel), Garry Tallent (bass), Steve Van Zandt (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Max Weinberg (drums).

When the dust settled Springsteen had again employed his now famous “four corners” approach starting both sides of the platter with tunes focused on overcoming circumstances and closing each side with sad songs of hopeless situations. Side one opens on “Badlands”. This, like all the other cuts, is a Springsteen original. This one focuses on a man who is down and out and looking for a better life.

The second selection is the slightly biblical bit and keynote cut “Adam Raised a Cain”. It’s followed by the lengthier “Something in the Night” and the perhaps all too brief “Candy’s Room”. The side ends on the longest track on the entire project “Racing in the Street” which is a dead end job dirge that some consider Springsteen’s best song. Here he also pays tribute to the Martha & the Vandellas tune “Dancing in the Street” with the line “Summer’s here and the time is right for racing in the street,” much like the Rolling Stones’ appropriation of the line in their song “Street Fightin’ Man”.

The flip side opens on “The Promised Land”. This being one of the “corner cuts” it focuses on trying to make things better and also serves as a tuneful tip of the hat to Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land”. Also included on this side are the oft’times neglected “Factory” and fan favorite “Streets of Fire”.

The next number is “Prove It All Night”. This is perhaps the penultimate song here. In the tradition of rock and roll Springsteen equates the surrendering of a gal’s virtue to love and vows to “prove it all night”. (It would be chosen to be the first single off the LP as well.)

The closing cut is the titular track “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. It serves as the final corner to Springsteen’s standard album layout at this point. It’s another sad dirge-like song about a situation that seems hopeless. Another Springsteen move here involves his use of the first-person perspective and the recurring themes of darkness, driving and cars, things that can influence one in a negative fashion and birth or love.

Released in March of 1978 on the Columbia label, the finished work had a running time of almost 43 minutes. The two singles off the album–”Prove It All Night” and “Badlands”—would make it to number 33 and 43 respectively. The LP itself climbed to number 5 on the Billboard Pop Album chart. (It would remain on the charts for 97 weeks and eventually go triple-platinum.)

It would be re-released in 1985 and make it up to 167 on the Billboard 200 chart. Darkness remained through the new millennium as it would be slotted in at number 151 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.

2010 witnessed the release of a reissue box set which had been planned for prior release in 2008 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original record’s release. Apparently it had been delayed a couple years due to Springsteen’s numerous other projects. It reached number 16 on the Billboard 200.

While the critics praised it a bit less than Born to Run, they all remained positive. Darkness on the Edge of Town rejected the different production embellishments used on Born to Run in favor of a more hard-nosed sound fueled by Springsteen’s raw vocals and furious guitar. The band can truly be heard here as they first prove their worth as one of the genre’s greatest supporting groups.

More importantly though is that the words and music here demonstrate a comparative maturity in Springsteen’s writing. This release has a bite that almost makes the Spector-like Born to Run sound a little soft as Springsteen begins to assert himself as a guitarist in the same spirit as Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. The song lyrics also demonstrate more compassion than his previous fantasies of living the sweet life.

He notes both the ache of hope against hope and the pain of lost innocence. There has for decades now been a messianic element to Springsteen criticism that is probably present mainly because to his fans he embodies the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of rock ‘n’ roll as handed down from Elvis Presley. Once an unquestionable major force in this development, Springsteen best reveals this in now classic recordings such as Darkness on the Edge of Town/Col. JC-35318.

William Phoenix LA Music Examiner

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Killer Classic – Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town”

Bruce Springsteen’s album, Darkness on the Edge of Town marked the end of a three-year gap between albums brought on by contractual obligations and legal battling with former manager Mike Appel. Although the album did not produce high charting singles it nevertheless remained on the charts for 97 weeks. A steady seller in Springsteen’s catalogue, it has been certified triple-platinum by the RIAA.

Although slightly less enthusiastic than for Springsteen’s previous album Born to Run, reviews for Darkness on the Edge of Town were unanimously positive. Critics notably praised the maturity of the album’s themes and lyrics. It remains one of Springsteen’s most highly regarded records by both fans and critics and several of its songs are staples at Springsteen concerts.
In September 2010 a documentary film chronicling the making of Darkness was first shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. Quoting Springsteen as saying “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy – I wanted to be great”, reviewer Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger commented: “For many fans, that long journey pulled onto the Turnpike here.” Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it at 150 on their list of the greatest albums of all time.
The cover shot and inner sleeve photo were taken by photographer Frank Stefanko inside Stefanko’s Haddonfield, New Jersey, home. Springsteen says, “When I saw the picture I said, ‘That’s the guy in the songs.’ I wanted the part of me that’s still that guy to be on the cover. Frank stripped away all your celebrity and left you with your essence. That’s what that record was about.”

A reissue box set was released in November 2010. This had initially been planned for 2008, to mark the 30th anniversary of the original album’s release, but was delayed, presumably due to Springsteen’s numerous other 2008 projects. By January 2009, Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, was saying the project was still in the works: “When we can find six weeks to sit down and finish it I’m sure we will.”
A documentary entitled “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town” was produced for the box set. The documentary premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in the fall of 2010 and aired on HBO on October 7, 2010.

During the Darkness sessions, Springsteen wrote or recorded many songs that he ended up not using on the album. This was to keep the album’s thematic feel intact, even at the expense of not having hits on it. According to Jimmy Iovine, Springsteen wrote at least 70 songs during the sessions and 52 of those songs were recorded with some not fully completed. As of 2011, 33 of those songs have been officially released.
Some of the unused material became hits for other artists, such as “Because the Night” for Patti Smith, “Fire” for Robert Gordon and The Pointer Sisters, “Rendezvous” for Greg Kihn, “This Little Girl” for Gary U.S. Bonds, and several tracks for Southside Johnny (including much of the Asbury Jukes’ Hearts of Stone album). Other songs such as “Independence Day”, “Point Blank”, “The Ties That Bind”, and “Sherry Darling” would turn up on Springsteen’s next album, The River, while still others became bootleg classics until surfacing on Springsteen’s compilations Tracks, 18 Tracks and The Promise. The Promise features 22 tracks from the Darkness sessions, many with modern vocal takes and added instruments and was released in November 2010 compilation (and also included in a box set). Some of these Darkness outtakes were performed by Springsteen in concert during his 1978 tour and later.

Track listing
All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.
Side one
1. “Badlands” – 4:01
2. “Adam Raised a Cain” – 4:32
3. “Something in the Night” – 5:11
4. “Candy’s Room” – 2:51
5. “Racing in the Street” – 6:53
Side two
1. “The Promised Land” – 4:33
2. “Factory” – 2:17
3. “Streets of Fire” – 4:09
4. “Prove It All Night” – 3:56
5. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” – 4:30

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“Double Shot” Darkness Tour Notre Dame University, IN

Double Shot
Darkness Tour
Notre Dame University, IN
September 9, 1978

One of my friends in college had purchased a block of tickets for the show during the summer. When we arrived on campus, he began trying to sell them. I wasn’t all that familiar with Springsteen at the time despite Born to Run. I remembered the Time Magazine article about him being the new Dylan who I was not a big fan of at the time. My friend basically made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered to give me the ticket and if I didn’t think the show was great I wouldn’t owe him anything. It was a Saturday night. Notre Dame was the defending National Champs and had lost to Missouri that afternoon in a shocking upset. Only about 3000 people showed up for the concert (the ACC held about 11,000.) A group of eight of us went to the concert. The show opened and I was blown away. The amount of energy Springsteen put forward was incredible. Jumping up on the piano. Playing off the Big Man and Miami Steve, the energy was amazing. I passed over the price of the ticket during his cover of We Got to Get Out of This Place. He singled out two guys in the front row that had been following him all summer. He launched into a song “that this is the only place in the known Universe we have ever played it” It was Double Shot of My Baby’s Love. The song broke down during the intro. He just laughed and they started over. The crowd was singing the choruses at the end. He then launched into Louie, Louie, after hearing a request from the audience. “Don’t tempt me!” before deciding to play the song. Candy’s Room was a song that really stood out for me at the time as did Adam Raised a Cain. I was taken back by his stories and the acting that went with them. He told a song about a gypsy woman who appeared before them and transformed them into their various personas. For Bruce, nothing happened. “I was still a bum!” I think he introduced For You with that song. After three plus hours of playing and an intermission, the concert ended with endless encores. The lights went up and we waited but reluctantly headed for the exits. We were almost out of the ACC when we heard a roar and headed running back to our seats. With the house lights on, the band came out and played Twist and Shout with the crowd handling the harmonies. A food fight broke out with the roadies. It was the most incredible concert experience I had or would ever have. On that Monday, I headed to the bookstore to buy the four albums that we’re out at the time. I was a complete convert. Two weeks later,Yes came to the ACC and I remember how bored we were with the entire concert. Springsteen returned in 1981 to Notre Dame and sold out the venue. Before, he played Double Shot he told the audience this is the only place in the known universe we play this song. From different areas of the arena came cries of Double Shot!

Frank Moffitt

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Signs Taken From the ‘Boss’ The Red Sox manager was inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s classic about the edge of town

The manager on how the song “Darkness of the Edge Town” taught him on how to play the game of life.

I first heard Bruce Springsteen‘s “Darkness on the Edge of Town” in the summer of 1978, when I was 15. I grew up in Monmouth Beach, N.J., with my brother and four sisters, so one of them always had the album and song playing. Today, “Darkness” reminds me of where I came from and helps me think through big decisions.

Until I was in my mid-20s, I was a pleaser. Whether it was to win my dad’s acceptance or the attention of high school and college coaches, I was preoccupied with approval. But in my 20s, I realized that being a pleaser would only keep me from taking necessary risks and going my own way.

Springsteen’s lyrics in the second verse of “Darkness” helped: “Everybody’s got a secret, sonny / Something that they just can’t face…Till someday they just cut it loose / Cut it loose or let it drag ‘em down.” As a pitcher in school and the majors, I identified with the third verse, too: “Tonight I’ll be on that hill ’cause I can’t stop / I’ll be on that hill with everything I got.”

Those who get to play pro sports confront more personal challenges sooner than most people. Pro athletes have accelerated careers and hit a midlife crisis in their 30s. So the song’s third verse hits home. But it’s more than just words. The E Street Band’s music reflects the athlete’s struggle against time. There’s a loping pace to the song that bottoms out and picks up with wall-shattering energy.

Having grown up in a blue-collar family, I wasn’t born into a good life. But I’m thankful I’ve had to work hard, which makes what I do more rewarding. I’ve also been fortunate in my career to be presented with great professional opportunities. Those moments have forced me to figure out whether to stay with the status quo or change. Without a doubt, “Darkness” has come to mind in those situations.

Back in the early 2000s, I met Springsteen briefly in Cleveland, when I worked in the Indians’ front office. I had backstage access to his concert at what was then Jacobs Field, so it was just a quick shake of the hand. “Darkness” is more than a song for me, so even a fast handclasp was pretty electrifying.

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Bruce Springsteen Performs Full Album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town” London, June 15 2013

Despite excellent renditions of individual songs, notably Lost In The Flood, the most stunning aspect of the show is, of course, the complete performance of Springsteen’s masterpiece, Darkness on The Edge of Town. “We can, er, keep taking requests,” we hear Springsteen say to the audience, “or we can play Darkness on the Edge of Town from start to finish.” ”A simple proposition,” writes Michael Stutts on the Backstreets website, ”but one that defined this show.”
Reviewers and commentators were clearly overwhelmed by the performance of Darkness. Hann writes:
“The centrepiece of tonight’s show is a complete performance of the 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, an album Springsteen describes as being ‘at the heart of what we do,’ which deals with themes barely suited to this mass act of communion: doubt and identity, and lives being torn apart. It’s undoubtedly one of rock’s most profound and ambiguous albums, and its performance is a triumph. As the coda of Racing In The Street ebbs and flows across the 71,000 people in the stadium, the silence is absolute, as if everyone has their own shattered dream to remember. Only Candy’s Room, so dependent on precision for its build and release of tension, suffers a little with stadium sound, but it’s a tiny gripe.”
Like Hann, Hearn found Racing In The Street particularly affecting, writing:
“The standout was a heartbreaking ‘Racing in the Street.’ Everybody stood around me was in tears. Each time Bruce extended the instrumental outro he seemed to be getting more and more emotional himself. Moments like that don’t come very often and it is something I will never forget.”
Manzoor comments:
“It was the first time a British audience has been treated to Springsteen performing an entire album and from the fiery intensity of Adam Raised a Cain to Max Weinberg’s menacing drums on Something in the Night to Nils Lofgren spinning
on one foot while playing the guitar solo during Prove it all Night with his teeth it was breathtaking.
The audience were about as jubilant as it was possible to be considering they were hearing 10 songs streaked with anger, despair and desperation.”
Enjoli Liston, reviewing the show for The Independent, states:
“From ‘Badlands’ to the album’s final track and namesake, the performance is a thing of real and rare brilliance, leaving the crowd silently awed and euphoric in equal measure throughout it.”
At greater length, Daniel Paton, gives the following view on the music OMH website:
“Tonight, London is lucky enough to get Darkness On The Edge Of Town, perhaps Springsteen’s greatest long form achievement, an album on which he drew deep from the well of human experience and sadness. It’s not exactly the obvious choice for a stadium show…but Springsteen’s return to his back catalogue is never about mere nostalgia. It is more a celebration of the timelessness and undiminished authority of these songs – and these songs of darkness and defiance are among his very best.
Tonight, the band perform these songs with a sense of dignity and responsibility. Badlands remains an audience participation favourite, in spite of its rather different context in this show, but Adam Raised A Cain raises the intensity levels to fever point, with Bruce taking an explosive guitar solo and singing in impressively gutsy style. Something In The Night is beautiful and greatly enhanced by the presence of the E Street Horns…whilst Candy’s Room retains all of its lusty drive. A moment of genuine poignance [sic] comes with Racing In The Streets [sic], its glorious extended coda (on which Roy Bittan stretches out brilliantly on piano) perfectly encapsulating the E Street sound…
…Factory is melancholy and controlled, whilst Streets Of Fire has an urgency and power. Then there is the inevitable double whammy of two of his best songs – a typically storming Prove It All Night (sadly played without the ’78 intro), on which Nils Lofgren is allowed his one moment of show-stopping virtuosity, an excoriating solo complete with teeth and 360 degree spins. The album’s brilliant title track concludes things with convincing soul and fire.”
These accounts might be hyperbolic, with a certain amount of artistic license (a couple commenting on Hann’s review point out that people could clearly be heard chatting during the coda of Racing In The Street, for example), but, overall, they convey the thorough-going excellence of the performance.

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Bruce Springsteen Darkness 1978

Bruce Springsteen New York, Darkness 1978

Springsteen Darkness Picture Disc Album

Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town

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Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town Tour, Capital Centre, Landover, MD 1978

I grew up in a Maryland suburb called Kettering, about two miles from the Capital Centre in Landover. It had opened in 1973, a few years after my young parents bought a house in which we lived until the early 1980s: 109 Weymouth Street. Some controversy had surrounded the arena’s construction, but I don’t know what.

My father was (and is) a sports fanatic, and he was thrilled to have such a state-of-the-art sports arena so close to home. The Washington Bullets played there, and it was, for many years, Dad’s heaven. When I was 13, Dad took me to the Cap Centre to see my first-ever concert: John Denver.

In subsequent years, he and my mother would pack the four kids into a VW bus and haul us around America so we could see places they never had. In preparation, my mom had a new-fangled device installed in the bus: an 8-track tape player. All those hours driving, my father cruised with his favorite music full-blast. To this day, I can sing whole albums by the likes of Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, and Fleetwood Mac. God save me from The Starland Vocal Band.

By the late 1970s, disco had just about robbed music of its soul, but my girlfriends and I didn’t know that. We spent hours together in one bedroom or another, making up line dances that (we thought) rivaled the Hustle.

Spring 1978 I was 15 and in love with a boy named Marty Campbell, who brought me into his musical world, which revolved around Jimi Hendrix and playing guitar. Soon, he had me listening to Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell, CSN&Y, and anyone else he deemed worthy. By the end of summer, our relationship was done and my heart broken.

At about the same time, my sister, Michele, had a boyfriend, who liked to work on cars. And somehow, he heard about a guy named Bruce Springsteen, whose sound he loved. He owned an 8-track player in his little yellow TR7, and the two of them would sit in that car, and listen. My sister, an equally compliant girlfriend where music was concerned, agreed with her boyfriend: Bruce was something special. I didn’t get it….even so, when the boy showed up with tickets to see Bruce at the Capital Centre, the two of them took me along.

I wish I had a more particular kind of memory, one that would reveal details about that night’s show—but those are lost to me. The sense of it, though, remains. Bruce Springsteen was some kind of crazy man who owned not just the physical space, but the crowd with it. The sheer energy of the man stunned me—he played that guitar as if it were his own heart.

There was nothing cool about him, as far as I could see. He was about my parents’ age—all of 29 or 30, and they were old. But that music went right through me: All that heartache and longing, all the wished-for escapes, all the anguish, all over the place.

The guy talked so much; he had so many stories to tell. There was nothing polished about him, and he sure as hell wasn’t John Denver or Jimi Hendrix.

I doubt that I had ever heard a saxophone before, much less seen one. Except for basketball games, I had probably never seen such a huge man in person before—but I knew that whatever that man was doing, I wanted to live inside it.

All through that dark arena, with its ever-floating smoky haze of cigarettes and pot, thousands of people were feeling the same way. We were one body, moving with and through Bruce. The only other thing that had ever felt so good had been kissing Marty in the woods the summer before. Prove it all Night? I wanted a boy to feel that way for me, prove it all night for my love.

At home, things were on rough footing, and I was one sad, lonely girl. That arena, that night, someone sang a pain I could not express, and didn’t know others shared.

In my memory, that night went on forever. It couldn’t have gone on long enough.

Michele and I were in big trouble when we finally got home, hours past our curfew. Our mother rejected our excuse: The singer wouldn’t quit. Who knows what punishment we received? By then, we’d have done anything for Bruce.

Thirty-five years later, we still would. We saw Bruce a few more times at the Cap Centre. Once at RFK, the old football stadium in DC. The Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center) downtown, FedEx Field in Largo, Nats Stadium last fall. Michele says I missed the best show ever, a few years ago when Bruce played the Mariner Arena in Baltimore, his first show in that city. Dad was sick with cancer and I was away for work. Adulthood is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Along the way, Dad became a fan, too, and he comes to every show with us. Nothing feels better, now that I am 50, than standing in an arena with my Dad, cruising toward what we know is going to be the end of the show, when the lights come up and we are all 16, just born to run.

We know every word to every song, and we sing as hard as we can. That night in 1978 in Landover, Bruce thought he was talking about the Darkness on the Edge of Town. Really? There was magic in that air.

Janice Lynch Schuster
Riva, Maryland

Limited edition Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness, less than 150 copies left.
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Springsteen Darkness Tour, Largo MD 1978

Springsteen Darkness Tour, Largo MD 1978

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Behind The Scenes of Darkness on the Edge of Town with Dick Wingate

With the much-anticipated release of the commemorative box set for Darkness on the Edge of Town slated for this November, Bruce Springsteen’s classic record is getting renewed attention in the music world.Fans are surely hungry for all the historic material they can get from the 1978 recording sessions and subsequent tour.For our own preview of what’s to come, we contacted Dick Wingate, who was intimately involved in the launch and marketing of the album and tour. He offers an insider’s view of what the Darkness era meant to Bruce and the band, while painting an often-humorous behind-the-scenes account of some of the tour’s highlights.

Enjoy, and be certain to check out the book The Light in Darkness, which one fan said, “… would make a great companion piece to the commemorative Darkness box set…”

I first met Bruce right after Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. was released. Columbia Records brought him to WBRU-FM in Providence, R.I., where I was music director, and later program director, and we were one of the first stations in the country to play Bruce.

He was very shy and clearly not used these sorts of situations. This was shortly after the first album had come out and he looked just like he did on the cover of The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle cover, rail thin, wearing a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. It was mostly a quick meet and greet and we didn’t go on the air.

I’ve always wished I’d seen him play before I had met him. Later that night he played a gig at Brown University with the original lineup of the E Street Band and I was hooked for life.

Bruce’s performance at Brown was so incredibly dynamic compared to every other new act I’d seen at the time, and he really fed off his interactions with the band. He also made eye contact with many of the several hundred students in the crowd while performing, which made it feel so personal and powerful.

I fondly remember Suki Lahav coming out to play violin on “New York City Serenade” and it just floored me that this was the same group that had been playing bar band songs and David Sancious’ jazzy licks.

Two years later I became Bruce’s product manager at Columbia Records, a job which entailed coordinating all the marketing, packaging and advertising efforts and eventually, in 1978, writing the original marketing plan, which I still have, for Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Click on image to enlarge.Original marketing plan for Darkness on The Edge of Town album, with Picture Disc (top right) and In-store poster display (bottom right).

Bruce and Steve outside New York recording studio The Record Plant, October 1977. Notice Bruce is holding a cassette tape of the Darkness demos.Ross Gadye©

The album was held up because of the legal dispute between Bruce and his former manager, creating a three-year wait between Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Everyone at Columbia believed that no matter how many years between albums, Bruce Springsteen was one of the most important artists on the label. Evidence of this was shown when the label continued to support the pre-Darkness tours after sales of Born to Run had settled down, even when no new album was scheduled.

In the months leading up to its release I met with Bruce and Jon Landau several times to discuss the marketing approach. Jon was involved with nearly every detail and he instantly made me feel part of a special team. By this point of course nothing happened without Bruce’s ultimate approval. Bruce said to me that if it were up to him he would just have the album appear in the stores one day without any notice. He was adamant about not hyping it. He consciously moved away from the Born to Run album hysteria. No “future of rock and roll” type headlines. No hype, no beard, no earring, no sneakers. This was Bruce’s first album about adult themes.

I was not at any of the recording sessions. However, I was asked to come to the Record Plant to hear the album in its entirety upon its completion by Jon Landau. The only other people in the room besides Jon and myself were Jimmy Iovine and Mickey Eichner from Columbia A&R. At that point I don’t think any other people at Columbia had heard the album and I was thrilled to be invited.
It was obviously darker and that framed our approach to the advertising. So we agreed that the copy in all print, radio and TV advertising would be simply: “Bruce Springsteen. The new album: Darkness on the Edge of Town. In stores June 2nd.”

Bruce’s TV spot ran on Saturday Night Live the Saturday before and after release of the album. The TV spot was very simple, as this was the way Bruce wanted it. The Darkness tour was the key to generating the excitement with the press, the media and fans and that is why we did broadcasts on leading FM stations, which allowed millions of fans to hear Bruce live for the first time. AM radio was not supporting the album very much. We did a lot of local and national print advertising as well, and he did cover stories in Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, Musician, Creem and all the major publications of the day.

While we would have hoped for more top 40 radio airplay, everyone was extremely pleased with the results. We were very proud to have Bruce’s first double platinum album.

The original album cover, an extraordinary sepia-tone photo by Born to Run photographer Eric Meola, showed Bruce driving straight toward the viewer in the badlands under threatening skies in a convertible; but this was scrapped in favor of a simple portrait taken by Frank Stefanko in Bruce’s house.

Unfortunately the original image did not reproduce as well as we would have liked, and slight color differences in the proofs would alternately make Bruce either look sunburned or jaundiced! So Bruce requested to actually go to the printing press when the first covers were being printed to approve it. No artist had ever gone to the printer before, and this indicates the level of attention Bruce gave to absolutely everything.

Doug Yule©

The photo taken of Bruce and I at the printer, which appeared in Dave Marsh’s book Born to Run, was taken by Doug Yule, a former member of The Velvet Underground who was working at the printer at that time and just happened to have a camera!

As part of the marketing plan we purchased a billboard on LA’s Sunset Strip, and wouldn’t you know it, Bruce and the band actually defaced their own billboard one night with spray paint. I have to agree it wasn’t the best looking billboard.

Before and after photos of the infamous Los Angeles Sunset Strip billboard. Bottom billboard: Robert Landau ©

This was in July 1978 when Bruce did an unforgettable performance at The Roxy, where he debuted “Point Blank” and “Independence Day” on the same night. It was one of only a handful of clubs he did that tour and was broadcast live on KMET in Los Angeles.

A few days later we went to Phoenix to shoot Bruce’s first ever music video, live performances of “Badlands,” “Prove it All Night”, “Born to Run” and “Rosalita.” Only “Rosie” was seen fit for release by Bruce, and I was able to have it debut on ABC as the closing video in a two-hour special on the history of rock and roll. The girls who jumped on stage in Phoenix during “Rosie” and knocked him down were not scripted or encouraged, it was real, and the video helped expose the

Dave Marsh and Dick Wingate on the set of the Phoenix video shoot, July 1978

Springsteen aura to the many who had never seen him play. But we didn’t get a video to help promote the Darkness album itself. I think Bruce felt the other performances were good but not great, and in looking at them again now, 30-plus years later, “Badlands” and “Prove it All Night” didn’t feature the other band members all that much in the editing. Still, I hope they are released as part of the Darkness box set.

I accompanied Bruce and the band on many key dates on the Darkness tour and have many great memories. I was at opening night in Buffalo, Philly, Boston, Nassau Coliseum (where Bruce asked me to intro the band on stage!), Los Angeles (The Forum and Roxy), Phoenix, Miami, New York’s Madison Square Garden, New Haven, New Jersey’s Capitol Theater, Cleveland’s Agora, Princeton (where I brought Elvis Costello with me), and New York’s Palladium.

Dick, Bruce and Mike Pillot, backstage at Madison Garden, New York, August 1978

In Miami, we took the band to Joe’s Stone Crab, one of the most famous seafood restaurants in the city. We had to wait like everyone else because they didn’t take reservations. After a long time we sat down at the table, looked at the enormous menu of seafood and Bruce simply asked, “Do you think I could get a hamburger?” It just seemed funny after the extended wait and everyone had a good laugh.

Shortly before the tour, Bruce’s agent Barry Bell and I brought Robin Williams and his wife to Bruce’s house one afternoon, while Robin was in New York recording his first album at the Copacabana. Robin had not met Bruce and was really looking forward to it. Barry hired a limo for the four of us, and when we arrived Bruce was on a three-wheel ATV far away in the yard. He caught his leg between the bike and a tree and when he came back to the house he was limping. As the day went on, Robin and Bruce naturally got along great — after all they were the best performers in their respective fields — and I remember we had a meal cooked for us. Bruce kept his leg raised as much as possible to reduce the swelling, but he must have been in more pain than any of us realized or he admitted. The next day Jon Landau told me that as soon as we left he went to the local hospital for treatment and if I remember correctly he had to stay off his feet for a few days.

One of my favorite memories was a trip to Yankee Stadium with Bruce and Little Steven prior to the release of the new album. Bruce had been out of the public eye for a long time and had recently shaved his beard. We took the subway to Yankee Stadium and not a single person recognized him, or Steven for that matter. During the game a guy behind us walked over and asked, “Is that Bruce Springsteen?” And that was it for the whole day. It was quite astounding, and I realized that the images from Born to Run — the sneakers, the beard, the earring, the cap — were gone now and the image of Bruce we were forming for the Darkness campaign would be tougher, cleaner and more adult. Incidentally, even though Bruce and Steven ate just about every kind of junk food you could get at the stadium, they still wanted to stop for pizza on the way out.

Having seen Bruce play for nearly 40 years, I am convinced that the 1978 tour was the tightest, most aggressive and emotional tour that Bruce and the E Street Band ever did. It was the young adult becoming a man, just as the album was. It was the bar band taking arena-size stages for the first time and conquering America. We attended a party at Bill Graham’s house after the Winterland show, my last on that tour — a concert so good I had tears in my eyes.

Dick Wingate
February 23, 2010

Dick Wingate was the product manager at Columbia Records from 1976 to 1978 and was instrumental in launching Bruce Springsteen’s fourth album, Darkness on The Edge of Town. He was a pioneer indigital music while head of content at Liquid Audio, and is currently a digital entertainment consultant with TAG Strategic.

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Bruce Springsteen – Rockin Houston on the Darkness Tour

Springsteen played Houston twice on the Darkness tour: the first show was July 15, 1978, in the Sam Houston Coliseum, and the second show was December 8, 1978, at The Summit. The first show was less than one week before the Rolling Stones were to play the Coliseum on their Some Girls tour so it was one heck of a week for Houston concert fans.

It took some time to get used to his cleaned up image since it had been three years since Springsteen last played Houston next door at the Music Hall. There was some concern that as he changed his look maybe he had also changed his style of performance. But when he came onstage with the words “Gimme some lights. Houston long time, no see”, all doubt was gone. The show rocked — it was a classic multi hour show.

When he returned to Houston less than 6 months later playing to a much large crowd at the Summit, it felt as if the world was getting in on the secret. As a side note, a large billboard was erected over one of Houston’s freeways. Allegedly, Bruce and a few others scaled it in the middle of the night and added their own art work.

Bruce Kessler

Bruce Springsteen 1978 - SAM HOUSTON COLISEUM, HOUSTON, TX


Set list

Bruce Springsteen ticket 1978 - SAM HOUSTON COLISEUM, HOUSTON, TX

  2. NIGHT
  5. FOR YOU
  13. FIRE
  17. GROWIN’ UP

Bruce Springsteen - July 15, 1978 - SAM HOUSTON COLISEUM, HOUSTON, TX

December 8, 1978 – THE SUMMIT, HOUSTON, TX
December 8, 1978 – THE SUMMIT, HOUSTON, TX
December 8, 1978 – THE SUMMIT, HOUSTON, TX
Set list

December 8, 1978 – THE SUMMIT, HOUSTON, TX

  15. FIRE
  19. MONA
  22. I GET MAD

December 8, 1978 – THE SUMMIT, HOUSTON, TXDecember 8, 1978 – THE SUMMIT, HOUSTON, TX

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain. A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping: During the Wrecking Ball Tour 2013:The Light in Darkness

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Counterbalance No. 112: Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’

Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger
PopMatters: The Magazine of Global Culture

Klinger: For nearly 40 years, Bruce Springsteen has given countless rock critics a reason to get out of bed in the morning. His sincere sound is fully rooted in rock traditions, and his lyrics are usually reaching for Big Statements (except when they’re not, in which case they’re considered knowing riffs on party rockery). In fact, Springsteen is such a darling of the criterati that it’s more than a little surprising to me that it’s taken The Great List this long to get back around to one of his albums. The mathematical vagaries could have delivered us to the mega-hit Born in the U.S.A. or the grim, acoustic Nebraska (the Springsteen album that’s OK for indie types to like), but somehow we landed on 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, Springsteen’s hard-earned follow-up to Born to Run.

I’m inclined to say that this choice seems about right. Darkness on the Edge of Town to me sounds like Springsteen in quintessence, what we talk about when we talk about Bruce Springsteen. The twinkly piano of Roy Bittan playing off the golden-toned organ sounds of Danny Federici, the lyrics chronicling the travails of blue-collar life, and the comfort we take in knowing that there’s a Clarence Clemons saxophone solo just around every corner. And epic conceptual pieces like “Jungleland” were given the old heave-ho. For years, when anyone did a Springsteen parody, loving homage, or blatant rip-off, this is the sound they drew from. So having said all that, Mendelsohn, your past experience with Bruce left you cold, but that was a long time ago and I’m sure you’ve grown considerably since then. Are you on the trolley this time around?

Mendelsohn: I can’t find my ticket. Well, that’s not entirely true. I just didn’t buy one. I spent all of my money on candy and whiskey. So . . . I’m just going to drunkenly chase the trolley down the street, jump on the back, and hope no one notices while I hang off the platform and wash down the rest of these Pixie Sticks with whatever is left in this bottle.

My appreciation for the Boss has increased since our last go around over two years ago. And while I have enjoyed my time with Darkness on the Edge of Town, I found myself going back and forth between real exuberance for this record and something registering slightly above complete apathy. What it really came down to was what song was playing at the time. I think I only really like certain things the Boss does while I can’t stand other aspects of Springsteen’s songwriting nature. I have a hard time taking Springsteen as a whole. I’m much more apt to really enjoy the raw energy of “Adam Raised a Cain” as opposed to the soaring melodrama of “Something in the Night”. In between those two aspects of Springsteen I find something like “Badlands”, and I’m trying to figure out if it’s the Springsteen I like or the Springsteen I could do without. Why do I have such a problem seeing the Bruce from the Springsteens?

Klinger: OK, let’s start out by saying “Badlands” is the Springsteen you like. Trust me.

But I think I see what you’re saying. Darkness on the Edge of Town marked the point where Springsteen started moving away from romanticizing his experience (and the experiences of the people he grew up with) and began more actively chronicling it. Born to Run was all mythology and the notions of a young man who was breaking free. And there are still some vestigial elements of that here on this album—“Something in the Night”, which you mentioned, “Streets of Fire”, maybe the title track.

Those numbers that are lyrically unvarnished are, I agree, the strongest, though, and that may be a function of the process by which this album came into being. After the success of Born to Run, Springsteen ended up embroiled in a protracted legal battle with his manager, Mike Appel. As a result, he was effectively barred from recording, and that artistic (and financial) frustration had to have taken a toll on him just as he was surely hoping to take a victory lap. There’s nothing romantic about endless contractual disputes, and that dismal drabbery had to be informing his approach.

Mendelsohn: Darkness on the Edge of Town is indeed a much bleaker album than Born to Run. I think that’s what I like about this record. Born to Run was too glossy in its over-romanticization of suburban escapism. The escapism is still present in Darkness on the Edge of Town, but it has taken on a much darker tone as the harsh truths of reality start to creep in around the seams. I find it sad in a way that real life beat the untarnished, optimistic escapism out of most of his songs. But those songs that move away from the mythology into the darker side of real life feel much more true to my ears. “Candy’s Room” is one of those songs that cuts closer to the truth, as Bruce details a young man’s naive love of the damaged Candy.

For me though, the true masterpiece on this album is “Factory”. There is something Dylan-esque about Springsteen’s take on the working life, and like all good Dylan songs, there is a twist at the end of “Factory”, that hits me every time I hear it. I like that dose of realism, I like the fact that Springsteen has muddied his escapism with the sadness and desperation of reality. Like real life there are the high and lows, the desperation and redemption. I know that’s what Springsteen was ultimately trying to achieve, and I like it much more than I thought I would.

Klinger: Well, good. For a long time I had been worried that younger generations were having trouble seeing past Springsteen’s baggage (the terrible ‘80s videos, the fact that people seem to want to call him “the Boss”). But Darkness on the Edge of Town might actually be a pretty good point of entry for the uninitiated. For one thing, Bruce made a conscious decision to favor guitar solos on this album—he felt they were less in your face than sax solos, and it also helps dispel some people’s preconceptions.

I must disagree with you, though, and state for the record that the album’s defining moment is in fact “Racing in the Street”. I’ve been listening to this album for going on 30 years, and it’s only recently hit me how powerfully constructed that song is. It’s a straightforward enough drag racing ballad at first, but then at 2:37 (right after the Martha and the Vandellas drop), there’s a joyous little interlude. Then thirty seconds later, it’s gone and we’re in a tale of a sad young couple—two people who bought into the beautiful sucker myth of “Thunder Road”. Suddenly the same Martha and the Vandellas reference at 4:43 takes us into a mournful build-up as these people solemnly make their way toward some form of redemption. And it’s all the sadder because you kind of know they aren’t going to make it. Springsteen and the E Street Band create those little moments throughout the album (the constant escalation of tensions in the first part of “Candy’s Room” is a great example), but I was taken aback by the subtlety on “Racing in the Street”. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m a little choked up right now.

Mendelsohn: Dry your eyes, Klinger. Seeing a grown man weep at the beauty of rock ‘n’ roll makes me feel weird.

It’s not that I don’t agree with your interpretation of “Racing in the Street”—I do, I agree wholeheartedly. “Racing in the Street” is the song that anchors this album. As the last song on side one, it will leave you thinking as you pull yourself from the chair to flip the record, questioning whether or not you want to continue living in Bruce Springsteen’s world (even if there is much less saxophone). But then all of that sadness seems like a distant memory as Springsteen tears into the optimistic “The Promised Land” (and its sweet, sweet guitar solo—followed by the obligatory sax solo—followed by a surprising harmonica solo).

I will maintain, however, that the song “Factory” remains the true emotional centerpiece on this album. After the uplifting “The Promised Land”, “Factory” starts off with what sounds like an ode to steady employment, but ends with the realization that the monotony of such jobs can be soul crushing while breeding disdain, desolation, and violence. And if you want to talk about a great little moment created by Springsteen and the E Street Band, I would direct your attention to the last verse of “Factory” when Springsteen sings, “And you just better believe, boy, somebody’s gonna get hurt tonight”. On the word “hurt” Max Weinberg hits the crash cymbals to add just enough extra emphasis to send shivers down my spine. Every time I hear it, Klinger, every time.

Klinger: Well with all the shivering and welling up, this has turned into a curiously emotional Counterbalance. But that’s not surprising, I reckon. The 1978 Springsteen was a raw nerve, coping with the frustrations that arise when romantic dreams become day-to-day realities. That’s what comes through on Darkness on the Edge of Town—that realization that even when you do get what you want, you still got to live it every day.

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
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John Gorman on … Springsteen at the Agora, August 9, 1978

On Aug. 9, 1978, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band played the Agora in a performance broadcast live on WMMS. It has since become the most famous Springsteen bootleg of all time. The show was part of a free small-club tour Columbia Records hoped would revive The Boss’ fame, after it began to fade following Born to Run. The man who made WMMS into an FM rock giant, John Gorman, brought Springsteen to town for that show and was in the audience.

The Agora was the best rock club in America. I’ve been to rock clubs in a lot of cities during the same period of time and nothing compared to what we had at East 24th Street.

Cleveland was in chaos at the time. City services were falling apart, the crime rate, everything. … 1978 was the best of times and the worst of times. But the one thing that was happening — the most positive thing in Cleveland — was rock ‘n’ roll. If you were young, you knew you were living in the hotbed of rock ‘n’ roll.

Springsteen played much longer than he was supposed to. You can always tell a person who was really at that show because they get so passionate they’ll talk your ear off. I’ve seen many, many, many concerts over the decades, and nothing compares to the electricity I saw that night. It was one of those things where the audience and the band were in a mind meld. Watching that show, it was just like one high after another. It just kept building and building, and building and building. … Max Weinberg, the drummer, said it was the best concert they’d ever done in their life.

The only thing that went wrong that night is Springsteen did a second encore, which was “Twist and Shout,” that did not get broadcast originally. Luckily, they ran tape on it. If you listen to the bootlegs, you’ll hear that it’s slightly different fidelity than the rest of it.

In those days, radio ratings were different. … We were only rated for 16 weeks out of the year and this Springsteen concert happened outside of ratings. I remember it being a hot, sticky, rainy, kind of terrible August evening. So, people weren’t outdoors. They were inside. Those radios had to be cranking everywhere.
We were already calling ourselves the rock ‘n’ roll capital of the world. But that night with that Agora concert, we proved it. The only thing I could say after that concert was: “What are we going to do next? How do we top this thing?”

— as told to Jim Vickers

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
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The Light in Darkness

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Darkness on the Edge of Town Trivia Quiz- How Did You Score?

A quiz on Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 classic fourth album, Darkness on the Edge of Town. Questions are gleaned from the album itself, the 2010 documentary on its composition, and several other sources.

Click here to take the quiz now: Darkness Quiz

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping:
The Light in Darkness

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Drinkable Tunes: Darkness on the Edge of Town

I connected with Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 follow-up to Born to Run, before I ever heard a note.

The album cover grabbed me while I was thumbing through a sea of records I inherited from my father. I wasn’t a Bruce Springsteen fan at the time — I had heard a few choice hits like “Born to Run” — but I hadn’t connected with him, his music or his vision of the American Dream.

But Darkness grabbed me before I heard a single note. Springsteen’s eyes, dog-tired-but-intense, stare defiant from the cover. That feeling, of fatigue and resilience, of exhaustion and heart, set the tone for my first listen.

I sat down on my floor with headphones on, drink in hand, and spun the record. It was love at first listen — it felt older and wiser than Run. It sets up Bruce’s later body of work; his first ode to an unromanticized working class with big dreams.

Darkness tells stories about troubled people who never quite make it — they all want to get out of their current situation because they think life has more to offer, but they’re struggling to get where they want to be. Instead of whining, they spit in misfortune’s face and hit the road to finally find a little more of whatever they’re looking for.

The opening track, “Badlands,” is my favorite. It’s the perfect example of a twenty-something who knows life isn’t perfect or fair, but who still has the youthful heart and drive to change. It’s hard not to roll down the windows and sing it at the top of your lungs.

My friends pick on me — they say I filter everything out for the positive. I’m sure there are plenty of people who hear Darkness as a record of sad stories, but I can’t help but be inspired. I love the grit of the characters. I love their defiance.

We peek in on these characters in the middle of their “American Dream” story; they haven’t achieved it, but they’re doing the best they can. You can see that as sad, but I see it as inspiring. It’s nice to hear stories about people who are trying their best to better themselves rather than giving up — Bruce’s characters rarely give up.

patrick mears

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 200 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping:
The Light in Darkness

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The Light in Darkness – Bruce Springsteen Book Review

In 1978 Bruce Springsteen embarked on a grand tour that would prove legendary; a tour that would create a mark for all other tours to reach. The 29 year-old Springsteen had just released his fourth album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, a bleak and darkly realistic version of his breakthrough previous album Born to Run. Unlike its predecessor, Darkness on the Edge of Town did not capture youthful spirits and set them alight. It took youthful hopes and dreams and turned them into ashes. There is to this day speculation as to why his next album was such a departure from the album that cast him into the limelight; whether it was his legal dispute with former manager Mike Appel or if it was something more personal and private no one knows for sure. What is certain, however, is that Darkness on the Edge of Town was not only a wild departure but a dangerous one. After the unheard of success of Born to Run (putting him on the cover of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, the first non-world leader to do so) he disappeared for 2 years and several where-are-they-now articles were published. But during the latter stages of those 2 years he was moulding a masterpiece.

In 1978 he finally released his long awaited (and at the time, almost forgotten) album. And the fans were… confused. Where was the young man of Born to Run who wanted to take life at the collar and make it his own? Where was the boy who knew that two lanes could take him anywhere? The boy who would run with his lover until they dropped, who knew there was a place where he’d walk in the sun? He was gone, dead, buried. Fans and critics alike couldn’t understand why this kid would so dramatically change his image when it had so dramatically propelled him to success. But change it he did. And thank God.

Lawrence Kirsch’s 208 page epic documents the now legendary Darkness Tour from May ’78 to January ’79. Each date and venue has their own heading in bold blue letters to give an easy-to-follow and clear lay out. The entire book is neatly compiled and formatted almost like an encyclopaedia of the 1978 tour. Under each heading are usually 3, perhaps 4, fan-written accounts of their personal experiences at each individual venue. Springsteen is famous among fans for doing something new every performance, making every show unique. From reading these accounts it is clear that this really started on the Darkness Tour. Many of the accounts talk of how sceptical rock fans shambled into small theatres to see what the fuss was about and then how they left the theatre shaking and buzzing with adrenaline. There are certainly more than one mentions of Springsteen entering the crowd and blasting them with a guitar solo, shredding energy from the strings and propelling it through the room and through the fans.

Although I greatly enjoyed reading these fan accounts, and was excited myself by their insight, it is only a book for real Springsteen fans. More specifically than that though, fans of Darkness on the Edge of Town. Casual fans of either Springsteen or the album perhaps will not enjoy reading about what other people have to say. Understandably, it can be quite tedious to read about an experience you wish you saw but couldn’t have. It is easy to get jealous of these fans and I found myself irritated at some points of the book because some accounts are so incredible to read about that I was filled with envy. That is not necessarily a bad thing because I always went back to the book and continued reading, as many people will. Being 18 years old, I obviously could never have seen the ’78 tour and am eternally disappointed. After reading the book however, and then seeing Springsteen at Hyde Park in July 2012, I was able to see that he is the most consistent performer in rock history. A bold statement but one lined with truth. At 62 he paraded around the stage with the same vigour and enthusiasm as the fans describe in Kirsch’s book.

It is a fascinating book to read, especially as a younger fan. While reading it for the first time I felt like I was reading a history text book in conjunction with an enjoyable novel. It contains the facts and the true events but also some mythical elements that some of the more imaginative fans bring to it. Stories which are maybe exaggerated by memory are told of Springsteen singing or playing guitar directly to them, or how a simple twist of fate placed life-changing tickets into their hands. Whether these small details are fact or fiction is irrelevant as it proves for an interesting read with several passages making me genuinely smile.

As well as accounts of the shows themselves, some of the most enjoyable passages in the book are the ones about how the particular fans first got into Springsteen’s music or the journey they went on to acquire tickets. I was forever reminded that they “didn’t have the internet in those days” and how tickets were much harder to come by. But, what I found most novel of all, how much cheaper the tickets were. My ticket to see Springsteen earlier this year cost me close to 70 pounds (roughly 114 dollars) yet there are stories of fans paying a mere 8 dollars. Obviously, Springsteen wasn’t as huge as he is now but it’s so difficult to imagine now that I couldn’t help but grin at the novelty of it all.

Other than the accounts themselves, the book is beautifully presented. I own several Springsteen books and have researched several others yet I have never seen one that contained so many quality photographs. Some of the photographs in the book are rare while others have become iconic over the years but all of them are incredible to look at. The high quality photos are printed on photographic pages which give the book a glossy and highly professional appearance. After reading the book, you could easily go back through it one hundred times over just to look at the pictures. Pictures of Springsteen rocking, having fun, teasing the audience, saddling up to Clarence and many more.

Without a doubt, I enjoyed the photos most of all in this book. The book is A3 in size and so contain several photos on almost every page. I cannot praise the photos in this book highly enough and would recommend the book solely based on them. The book, of course, is so much more than just pictures and words though. Like any book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, this tells a story. It’s a story that most readers of the book will already have heard in one form or another but seems so much fresher and touching when it’s a first-hand account.

This is perhaps the perfect time to purchase this book, not just because of Christmas but because Springsteen seems to have come in a complete circle. On his most recent tour (the Wrecking Ball Tour) he has reintroduced the extended introduction for Prove It All Night which debuted on his ’78 tour. The themes that run through Darkness on the Edge of Town can also be found on Wrecking Ball and the economic and social troubles from ’78 are now present once more. Springsteen even wore some of the same clothes then and now, notably a black tie, waistcoat and blue shirt. Springsteen is fully aware of his fans, what they want and what they expect and reading this book only drives home the fact that he has always been aware.

All in all, this book is simply a must have for any Springsteen fan anywhere. I’m 18 and live in England yet I feel fully connected to the 63 year old Jersey-dweller. This book not only enforces that connection to Springsteen but strengthens invisible bonds between you and the fans who help write the book. Lawrence Kirsch should be commended for compiling all of these fan accounts, some found on blogs, others elsewhere. The accounts are detailed and sometimes amusing and inspiring but always interesting. The photos are beyond amazing to look at, as are the pages themselves. The book is jam-packed with information, stories, rarities, pictures and Springsteen. All of this is found inside the beautiful, glossy black cover found with this special limited edition book. You like Springsteen? You’ll like the book. It’s that simple.

The book The Light in Darkness is only available on line and printed in a limited edition. Less than 200 copies remain.

Aaron Gillie

Bruce Springsteen in crowd at Madison Square Garden, August 1978

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Springsteen’s Greatest Albums’ excerpt: Darkness on the Edge of Town

For the next two months we’ll be posting an excerpt from Peter Chianca’s eBook Glory Days: Springsteen’s Greatest Albums, which analyzes eight of Springsteen’s most groundbreaking albums and then argues which one should be considered “the greatest.” This week, a selection from the chapter on Darkness on the Edge of Town:

On side 1, “Racing in the Street” was and remains a towering achievement for Springsteen. It’s a story song that takes its time to introduce its sad characters, moving from the narrator’s car – the famous “’69 Chevy with a 396” – to his friend Sonny, and eventually to the “little girl” whose dreams will die a slow, hard death. It’s unyielding in its utter realism and its depiction of the choices most of us face, one worse than the next – and it fastidiously avoids a happy ending.

Instead, it moves into an extended instrumental conclusion that’s held together by the gloriously intertwined keyboard work of Danny Federici and Roy Bittan. It’s a masterful, slow-building coda that takes the character’s hard and complicated emotions and somehow wordlessly builds on them. You can imagine the narrator and his girl, the one who “hates for just being born,” slow-dancing to it at dusk, for just those few minutes managing to stave off the pain.

That song’s counterpart on side 2, the album-closing title track, is more allegorical but equally uncompromising. Its narrator has lost his money and his marriage, and has a dark secret that he may cut loose, or that may drag him down – either way, the price of wants and dreams of any kind seems too great to bear.

Musically, like a lot of the other songs on Darkness, it builds and ebbs, then builds again, the thump of Garry Tallent’s bass giving way to Weinberg’s masterful, deliberately punctuated percussion and Bittan’s powerful piano. Through it all, Springsteen yells and grunts – “huh!” – and his distant groan is the last voice you hear as the album fades.

But maybe even more telling are the songs that follow “Racing” and lead into “Darkness.” First, “The Promised Land” picks up where “Badlands” leaves off, its hero promising that he’s “gonna take charge,” and sounding like he means it when he talks of taking a knife to the pain in his heart. And “Prove It All Night,” the album’s penultimate track, comes closest to breaking Springsteen’s promise to leave the album bereft of love songs. That edict benefited Darkness as a whole, but at the same time it serves to make “Prove It” even more resonant in its faith in the redemptive power of love and human relationships. It argues that such redemption is possible if you want it enough to take it – and that it can be worth the price if you do.

You can download Glory Days: Springsteen’s Greatest Albums at Amazon or Amazon UK. And if you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry: You can download free Kindle software.

Celebrate the Holiday Season with Bruce Springsteen.
Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 225 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more! And for a limited time, we are offering a Bonus color 8″ x 10″ photo from the Wrecking Ball tour with every book purchase.
A perfect gift for the holidays!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping:
The Light in Darkness

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Colin Rafferty

Elizabeth and I took our first road trip a few months into our relationship. As the miles went by on the interstate, I changed CDs, one hand on the wheel while the other one slid the discs into and out of the 24-disc wallet I’d used for a decade.

Elizabeth fidgeted in her seat, a move that I’d come to recognize as signifying agitation and discomfort.

“What is it?” I asked.

“You keep changing the music,” she said. “On trips, I just leave the same CD in the whole time.”

“The whole time?”

“The whole time.”


As we went on, from dating to engagement to marriage, I learned this about Elizabeth: she would listen to the same CD, sometimes the same song, over and over and over. For me, a former record store employee with a music collection that overtook an apartment wall, music was about discovery, the chance to hear something before anyone else, the chance to love a band or singer-songwriter at ground level, to say you heard them first.

But Elizabeth taught me there was beauty in repetition. Listening three times in a row unlocked nuances in albums I thought I already knew. A fourth listen made the experience transcendent; a fifth sent it back down to its most human core.

Elizabeth loved Bruce Springsteen more than any other artist. She’d go through phases with single albums; for a long time, she played Born to Run. (Once, as the CD started over, I reached for the eject button. Over piano and harmonica, Elizabeth grabbed for my hand. “You don’t fuck with ‘Thunder Road,’” she said.) On a trip to Arizona, she discovered our rental car had satellite radio, and we listened almost exclusively to E Street Radio. For birthdays and anniversaries, I bought her CD copies of the albums she’d grown up listening to, and we’d listen to them together, arguing about whether the live version’s energy surpassed the studio version’s precision. We decorated our first Christmas tree while the video of Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75 played, Springsteen in his stocking cap our version of Saint Nick.


Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town

For our second wedding anniversary, I bought her 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, Springsteen’s first album after his breakthrough with Born to Run.

Elizabeth loved the album, and it took up permanent residence in our car. We sung along wherever we went, sometimes skipping ahead to our favorite tracks: “Badlands,” the album’s opener, with its “whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa” lead-in to the chorus; “Racing in the Street,” a sad lament of lost hopes and dreams denied. “Candy’s Room” was my favorite song, because the rush I felt when Max Weinberg’s drums kicked in as Springsteen sang, “We kiss / my heart’s pumping to my brain” reminded me of the first time Elizabeth and I had kissed, a moment all nerves and passion, the kind of chance for glory that so many of the songs strove for and never found.

Going by number of plays, the final and title track, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” was Elizabeth’s favorite. Springsteen had followed his “four corners” approach, in which each side started out bright and hopeful, and then closed with that hope unraveled. In the dark, as we drove home, hope twice unraveled, Elizabeth would softly sing. “Now some folks are born into a good life / Other folks, they just get it anyway, anyhow,” she whispered over Springsteen. She claimed she had no talent for song, but as the miles of the interstate slipped by on our return to our home, I loved the sound of her voice more than anything else in this world.


I got the phone call about her brother at a departmental end-of-semester party on a Wednesday afternoon. Unconscious, the voice on the other end said. We don’t know what will happen. By the time we’d gotten packed and shuttled the dog to the kennel, we knew that we were driving down to say goodbye to him, that at the end of that road from Virginia to Alabama was a bed surrounded by machines to be switched off one by one.

We loaded our suitcases into the trunk and laid the garment bag with a black suit and black dress on top of it. I sat in the driver’s seat, and as I turned the key, I pressed the button to switch from CD to radio. I knew that whatever we listened to for the drive would forever be the Music We Listened To On the Way There, and I wanted not to ruin the album for Elizabeth.

From the passenger seat, her voice tiny, she whispered, “Thank you.”

We drove, our soundtrack the top-40 stations of the Southeast, I-95 to I-85 to I-20, hoping to stay ahead of a winter storm coming in from the west. We listened to music that would vanish in six months. I had never been more grateful for the disposability of pop music. We pulled into the hospital parking lot at three in the morning, and in the moment between shutting off the car’s engine and opening the door to her waiting father, there was a brief moment of silence, the first I’d heard in hours.


We sold that car a few months ago. We hadn’t really driven it since it developed some problems that no mechanic seemed able to diagnose, and we’d bought a new car. I cleaned out the old car, pulling out the detritus of a hundred trips. Dozens of maps, brochures from historical sites and national parks, stale Cheetos. I found four pens between the passenger seat and door, lost as Elizabeth worked on trips while I drove.

Under the center console, I found Darkness on the Edge of Town, the CD case sticky with spilled soda. Springsteen still stared out from the cover, white T-shirt and black leather jacket, window behind him. We hadn’t listened to it since the day before the phone call, seventeen months earlier.

We haven’t listened to it since, either.

Colin Rafferty lives in Virginia, where he teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Mary Washington. Recent essays have appeared in Witness, Utne Reader, and elsewhere. He’s currently at work on a series of essays about the Presidents.

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Bruce Springsteen’s Concerts: 1975-2012 A Journey of Shooting the Boss

Bruce Springsteen, Palace Theater, Albany, NY, 1978

Bruce Springsteen, Palace Theater, Albany, NY, 1978

Bruce Springsteen’s show at the Music Hall in Boston on December 3, 1975, is what I remember the most. I still think it might have been the best concert I ever witnessed from over 1000 shows I’ve attended and photographed. I was an admirer since Greetings from Asbury Park was released. I did see him as “the new Dylan” with all the words and content. I connected to it the same way I did to Dylan. My college buddies didn’t care for it, even made fun of it and ridiculed me for liking it. One day there was a contest by DJ Ellen at Midnight on WQBK in Albany to win a copy of the just released LP. All you had to do was call up. Nobody did for over an hour. I was working in my darkroom in my apartment and finally, after many pleas from Ellen over the air, I just called up and claimed the album. Boy, am I glad I did.

Bruce Springsteen, RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY, 1978

Bruce Springsteen, RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY, 1978

My friends dissed it entirely – “trite, too wordy, stupid, immature” is what they thought. Walter, Don, Larry, and Dennis are the same guys that couldn’t stand Jackson’s “Late For The Sky” or Neil’s “Harvest” and preferred the first Led Zeppelin, Mott The Hopple, Slade and NY Dolls. This was eventually funny because one night a few years later they called me from their new digs in Swampscott, Massachusetts and offered me a ticket to Bruce at the Music Hall the next night. They had scored tickets and Dennis had to work and couldn’t attend. I dropped everything and headed to Boston.

I remember Bruce ending that show being carried off the stage on a stretcher by medics after collapsing on stage [damn, it seemed real], only to throw back the sheet at the curtains, leap up and go full speed ahead into another string of songs. When the show finally ended the doors opened to the streets of Boston, but many fans held their ground and kept making noise. As the hall was emptying out and with the house lights on, Bruce came bounding back again and shouted, “Don’t believe everything they tell you” and launched into second extended encore. Fans ran back into the theater accompanied by others who had not even been to the show but saw the pandemonium on the street and the open doors and ran in. He manically plunged into his Detroit Medley and played another 30 minutes.

Bruce Springsteen, RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY, 1978

Bruce Springsteen, RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY, 1978

When the show was announced for Albany in 1978 I had started shooting music concerts for local publications, but learned that no photographs were allowed and cameras were not permitted to any Bruce show for this tour. I don’t recall much about the show, except stuffing a Leica M4 in my jeans and my companion hiding a 135mm lens in hers. I think the tour had started the night before in Buffalo and was heading to Philadelphia and Boston after Albany. The show was mildly disappointing to me, since I was unfamiliar with the new Darkness album material that had not been released yet. I still wanted to see the 1975 Bruce! I snuck taking my photos and got one really good one of Clarence and Bruce, shoulder to shoulder, jamming. The next day I called the Village Voice to offer the photograph, but they said their photographer would shoot the show in NYC. Knowing that no photographers were being given credentials and people were being searched for cameras I just sent the photo to the Voice anyway. The next Thursday when I got the paper up in Albany my picture was published. It was my first nationally published photograph and the beginning of my business RockShots® which has continued on to now, photographing music concerts for the last 35 years.

Martin Benjamin Village Voice Photo Pass

Martin Benjamin Village Voice Photo Pass

Later in the fall, The Darkness tour came back through, playing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the RPI Fieldhouse on November 12, 1978. The night of the show I felt bummed I wasn’t going so I just grabbed my camera and drove over to Troy, NY and bought a $5 ticket from a frat guy selling lots of them outside the arena. With my Nikon FM camera and 200mm lens under my jacket, I just walked in. I never went to my seat. I just kept heading up to the stage from all angles where the same guy would scream at me from the edge of the stage to stop, move back and go away [Jon Landau?]. I managed to photograph the show from much closer, figuring if I got thrown out it was worth the $5. I shot the whole show. I remember it more vividly than the May show in Albany. Bruce was flying around the stage, leaping in the air over and over, and the show had much more energy. Maybe it was a bigger stage than Albany, or it was just much later in the tour and the performances had skyrocketed. I knew the material by then and it did blow me away.

Bruce Springsteen, RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY, 1978

Bruce Springsteen, RPI Fieldhouse, Troy, NY, 1978

This summer I photographed Bruce in Fenway Park, and that concert was a throwback to 1978 – a nice touch for everyone attending, but especially to me, over thirty years later.
For me, the two best Bruce shows, out of about 8 or 9 I’ve seen, are ironically the first and last ones – December 3, 1975 at the Music Hall in Boston and August 15, 2012 – the second night in Fenway. Not that any of the others ones were ever disappointing, but the bookends 38 years apart were, by far, the best for me!

©Martin Benjamin

You can view a selection of Martin Benjamin’s original photography here:

Celebrate the Holiday Season with Bruce Springsteen.
Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 225 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more! And for a limited time, we are offering a Bonus color 8″ x 10″ photo from the Wrecking Ball tour with every book purchase.
A perfect gift for the holidays!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping:
The Light in Darkness

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Bruce Springsteen – Meeting in Detroit 1978

David Levenson

“Those jokers in the front row were so close I thought I’d have to introduce them with the band”.
The quote was from Bruce Springsteen in a review printed in the Detroit Free Press Oct. 5. 1975, the day after I had witnessed the single greatest live event of my life.

Thanks to my job as a ticket taker at the Michigan Palace and my father’s insistence that we see Bruce live, we ended up as one of the lucky few sitting in that front row. From the moment Bruce literally flung himself into the audience and on top of my father, I was hooked. Thirty-seven years and more than thirty shows later, I’m still hooked.


Original 1978 Bruce Springsteen Painting by David Levenson

I had been studying and practicing art since early in high school when I saw Bruce again in February of 1977. Once more in the front row, I decided to shoot some photographs that I could use as reference for a painting. My earlier works had been encouraging, and in fact I had already sold six portraits to the rock-soul group WAR who I had been a fan of since 1973. Not even the fact that one of the members of the group had bounced two checks on me could deter me from a career in art!
The reasons for doing a portrait were obvious to me. Bruce was the one artist-musician who captured everything I thought an artist should be. He was passionate, hard working, dramatic, moral, and topped it off with a tremendous sense of humor.

The ’77 show supplied me with enough good photos to compose my painting of Bruce. I started working on it later that year while attending college at Wayne State University in downtown Detroit. I wanted to have it completed by the next time the E Street Band came through town.
The “Darkness on the Edge of Town” tour had begun in May of 1978 and it wad announced that the band would play the Masonic Temple auditorium on September 1. This would be my best opportunity to show Bruce my work. After phoning around, I finally located the bands hotel, the Renaissance Centre, along Detroit’s waterfront.

On the day of the concert I went to my parents’ home to borrow their car so that I could transport the large painting to the hotel. My dad took one look at the clothes I was wearing, raggedy jeans and a paint stained shirt, and demanded that I put on something nice if I expected to meet Bruce Springsteen. My protests unheeded, I relented and ended up wearing a pair of dress paints and a freshly pressed shirt.

It was late afternoon by the time my friend Leo Yassy arrived to help me get the painting to the hotel. The crate I had constructed for transport was over 65″ long and stuck halfway out of the trunk. As we pulled into the hotel parking space another auto backing out rear-ended my dad’s car, smashing the crate in the process. Leo screamed at the driver of the other car while I stood by in shock, staring at the mangled crate imagining the damage inside to my painting. However, my fears were groundless because luckily, the painting was unharmed.

We finally hauled the 75lb. crate into the hotel lobby and word spread rapidly that there was a great Springsteen painting waiting for the “Boss” to see. One by one, members of the band and crew filed down to the lobby to get ready to depart for the nights show. They each shook my hand and told me how much they liked my painting.

Bruce and Jon Landau were the last to come down to the lobby. I was sure that by that time they had heard I was there with my painting. As Bruce finally arrived in the lobby, he could see the painting propped up against the wall as he approached.

“How come you’re so dressed up,” he asked as he shook my hand. I could only laugh to myself.
We talked for a short time and he told me how good he thought my painting was. He asked if I was coming to the show that night and I informed him that I had been unable to get tickets. Bruce immediately responded, “Don’t worry about that”.


Note From Jon Landau

Jon Landau approached me as Bruce and I were finishing our conversation and asked me if I was selling the piece and, if so, for how much. I had not been prepared for this question. Without time to think, I responded,” $500.” Landau said he would need time to think about it. He told me that he would leave me four tickets at the box office for the nights show. At that time I was to come around to the side of the stage to see if he would be interested in purchasing the work. I was walking on air.
I phoned two more friends to meet me at the Masonic Temple for the concert. When I arrived at the box office, my tickets were waiting along with a note from Jon Landau informing me that they were not interested in purchasing the painting, but Bruce and he greatly appreciated my showing it to them.
The seats and the show were fantastic. I was feeling great about the whole experience. One of the roadies who had been at the hotel saw me at the show and told me that Bruce never buys artwork of himself. That eased my disappointment.

Three months later I entered the painting titled “Religious Rock” in an art show at the Detroit Artists Market. Within days Stuart Eisenberg, an attorney and Bruce Springsteen devotee, purchased the painting. It was my first painting sold out of an art gallery.

Having lived in Chicago now since 1980 I occasionally find myself coming back to Bruce as a subject matter for my work.

Hopefully with each new canvas I have captured another facet of what Bruce Springsteen has meant to me.

Celebrate the Holiday Season with Bruce Springsteen.
Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 225 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there- the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more! And for a limited time, we are offering a Bonus color 8″ x 10″ photo from the Wrecking Ball tour with every book purchase.
A perfect gift for the holidays!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping: The Light in Darkness


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Bruce Springsteen New York, New York 1978

Darkness on the Edge of Town: A Concert Revisited

Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, New York 1978

Your admission to this story is a ticket to a time machine. If you’re a latter-day Bruce Springsteen fan who became an aficionado of the man’s music and live shows in the decades following the ‘Darkness’ tour and you think you have an idea of what one of his live shows is like, sit back: you’re about to discover the exciting truth. If you were there in ’78, you are about to be transported back to a brief moment in time.

The ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ Tour: “History is Made at Night”… That was then. This is now.

Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, New York 1978

Sound engineer Bruce Jackson during sound check.

SOUNDCHECK – Do you hear what I hear?

Much has been made on recent tours about the varying quality of sound at Springsteen concerts from venue to venue, and sometimes within the same venue in different locations. The ‘Darkness’ tour was distinguished for the now-legendary two-plus hour sound checks, where Springsteen himself would tour the arena while the E Street Band played in order to judge the sound. Much of this practice was no doubt a vestige of his initial reluctance to play hockey arena-sized venues in light of his audience intimacy and sound concerns, but in truth, the sound on that tour was great – it had to be, as the spoken song intros and stories played a major role in that tour’s message. You had to be able to understand what was being said.

OPENING ACT - Getting in the Door.

We all know the progression of ticket acquisition. Some of us remember Ticketron, sleeping out on the sidewalk the night before an on sale date, box office lines, then the advent of jammed phone lines, onsite venue scalper transactions, and, ultimately, internet sales. In 1978, you found out about a Springsteen appearance through your local FM radio station. You had no idea where the tour was the week before, or the week after your show. Tickets for the August 1978 shows at Madison Square Garden were made available via lottery by clipping a coupon in an ad that appeared in the New York Times Arts and Leisure section in late June. The coupon was mailed and you crossed your fingers that you would win the jackpot. Three weeks later two tickets arrived in the 8th row, Clarence’s side of the stage, for night two of the three show stand. Yes, things were different back then.

Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, New York 1978

THE FANS - Same cast, different demographic.

A stateside Springsteen show these days probably has a median age of about 38, with half the audience above, and half below that age. In 1978, the median age was about half that. Looking around a Springsteen concert in 1978, you saw an audience of people ranging from about 16, to about 28 years of age. There were the “veterans”, and by “veterans”, you’re talking about people who went back as far as the Upstage Club, and instant converts, in many cases people who had been dragged to the show by someone who had already seen the light. The conversation in that era used to go something like this: “Do you like Bruce Springsteen?” “No, not really.” “Have you ever seen him live?” Nowadays you’ll hear someone at a show wax poetic about the ‘River’ tour, and it’s a true oracle moment for a younger fan. I’ll never forget a conversation I heard during intermission at the Garden in ’78. It was between two guys who were comparing notes from the Upstage Club and the Student Prince in Asbury Park, back when Springsteen was essentially a guitar slinger sitting in with jam bands. To put it in perspective, ten summers ago we were all at the Meadowlands for the reunion tour shows. “Ten summers ago” in 1978 put you on the Jersey shore in 1968 in the era of the Bruce Springsteen Band, Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, and Steel Mill.

Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, New York 1978

THE FIRST SET - Just waitin’ to get blown away.

The best way to describe what you felt when the band walked out onto the boards and ripped into the opening number (whether it was ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’, ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘High School Confidential’, or ‘Badlands’) is to harken back to the old Maxell tape ads, where the guy puts a Maxell tape into his stereo and the sound that comes out of the speakers blows his hair and his scarf back, and sends his drink skidding across the table through the sheer force and power of its volume and energy. Much has been written and said over the years about the sense of desperation and emotion driving Springsteen on that tour – it’s all true, and then some. Trying to explain it can sometimes seem as daunting a prospect as the challenge put forth by John Sebastian in the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Do You Believe in Magic?” in that “It’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll.” Bruce and the E Street Band, compared to now, played fast. And they played loud. Not “The Who loud”, but loud enough to trash your ears for a day after the show, regardless of your rock show-going experience. The opening set was heavy on ‘Darkness’ album material, and the songs were augmented, enhanced, and accessorized in a way that doesn’t happen these days. The organ/piano intro to the title track, the extended harmonica/piano intro to ‘Promised Land’, the now-legendary piano/guitar intro to ‘Prove It All Night’, the extended piano coda to ‘Racing in the Street’, the ‘Not Fade Away’/'Mona’/'Gloria’ lead-in to ‘She’s the One’, along with the instrumental break in the middle of it – these flourishes made the songs even more special, and these types of reworkings are not seen much anymore. By the time ‘Jungleland’ closed the first set, some first-timers in the crowd thought the show was over, such was the quality and quantity of what was delivered in the opening set.

Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, New York 1978

THE SECOND SET - Are you ready for round two?

About ten songs long, the second set usually included “story time” in the midst of ‘Growin’ Up’, where we would learn that Springsteen was once a teenage werewolf, had contact with aliens, and as the product of a Catholic school upbringing, got to meet God himself in choosing a vocation, where he was told to “Let it Rock!” by the Big Skipper on a Clarence-organized trip to heaven. Second sets often opened with the unreleased instrumental gem ‘Paradise by the C’, and, later in the tour, with another as-yet unreleased song, ‘The Ties that Bind’. This, in and of itself, is illustrative, that Springsteen would play songs with which the audience was unfamiliar, including Springsteen-penned songs like ‘Fire’ and ‘Because the Night’, which became show staples and highlights even though they were associated with other artists. By the time ‘Rosalita’ closed the second set, and you’d screamed yourself hoarse during the band intros, you were wondering if you had anything left for the encores.

Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, New York 1978

THE ENCORES – Don’t make me have to hurt you!

The encores are really the third set, and by the time the show proper ended with ‘Rosalita’, it was hard to imagine that the energy could be taken to another level. It was, of course…the usual midsummer encore was ‘Born to Run’ (with a heartfelt “thank you to the fans for sticking with the band during the tough times”), ‘Because the Night’, and ‘Quarter to Three’ (those were the three encore songs for the three night stand at Madison Square Garden). The ‘Detroit Medley’ would work its way into the rotation for the fall, along with an occasional ‘Raise Your Hand’ or ‘Twist and Shout’. The feeling as you left the building was one of utter exhaustion. You had nothing left as a fan, and it almost seemed as if Springsteen was on a mission to outlast you, to prove that he had more energy than the collective reservoir of the assembled mass. If the first set was your apps and the second set was your main course, the encores were dessert. The arc of the show was no accident, and by its end it had peaked, leaving people high-fiving each other on the way out, “Broocing” themselves in the street, and literally sharing in a communal celebration of what they had just witnessed.

Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, New York 1978

THE RIDE HOME - Can you believe that leap he made from the speakers?

The ‘Darkness’ era had no online chat rooms, instantaneous set list dissemination, or Internet vehicles upon which to discuss Springsteen’s music or career. Your ride home was your debrief, and in that ride home, one of the major topics of discussion was the physicality of a Springsteen show. He was on top of the piano during the ‘Thunder Road’ outro before stage-sliding into Clarence. He was ten rows deep into the audience during ‘Spirit in the Night’. He was on top of the speakers, on top of the drum kit, and careening across the stage during the encore ‘Quarter to Three’ or ‘Detroit Medley’. His leaps at the end of songs could be measured by their verticality. In short, he was a force of nature, with energy emanating from his very being as if he were supercharged by lightning. Springsteen had been away for three years, and in that primitive media era, he may as well have been on the dark side of the moon. The sense of desperation, release, exhilaration, and resurrection engendered by the album’s release and its subsequent tour were once-in-a-lifetime occurrences for the man and his fans, and comprised a 7-plus month moment in time never to be repeated.

Anthony Fischetti, New York

Celebrate the Holiday Season with Bruce Springsteen.
Discover the Limited Edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light In Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 225 copies remain. A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there- the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
A perfect gift for the holidays.
Click Here to Order Now: The Light in Darkness

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The 1978 Radio Broadcasts of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness Tour

In modern popular culture, you know you’ve “made it” when you can be referred to by just your first name and it is assumed it is yours they’re talking about.  In the 70s, there was Farrah and Mick.  In the 80s, it was Michael, Ronnie, and Bruce.  Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen Britney, Paris, and Tiger.

Bruce Springsteen has played over a thousand shows over the last four decades, nearly all of which will live forever in the hearts and memories of the fans who were there, as those nights have been to known to change, or even save lives.  As fans talk about those shows, shows are referred to in a multitude of ways, such as by their date (“That July 18, 2003, show had a phenomenal encore”), their placement within a lengthy stand (“I thought the last night of the Los Angeles shows in ‘81 was better than the first”), by the venue and year (“The best version of ‘Incident’ ever was the Main Point ‘75”), or just by the city and tour (“That Detroit Darkness show had some cool chestnuts in the set list”).

However, there are a handful of shows that are so well-known and legendary that they are referred to simply by one name:  Agora, Passaic, and Winterland.  These shows have become part of a Springsteen fan’s vernacular and used as a point of reference when discussing just about every aspect of Bruce’s career.

To make sure we’re all on the same page:
1. Agora: The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, OH, August 9, 1978
2. Passaic: Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, September 19, 1978
3. Winterland: The Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA, December 15, 1978

springsteen capitol poster

In addition to all being from the same tour, the legendary Darkness on the Edge of Town tour of 1978, they were also broadcast live on the radio.  And they weren’t broadcast just in the city of origin, but throughout the surrounding areas — the Agora show was heard throughout the Mid-west; Passiac was heard up and down the Northeast, and Winterland was broadcast in Northern California up through Seattle, Washington — all areas that had supported Bruce in the first five years of his recording career, including the extended time between the Born to Run album and its 1978 follow-up, Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Bruce Springsteen ROXY tickets

There were two other radio broadcasts in 1978:  July 7 from the Roxy in Los Angeles, CA, and September 30 from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA.

However, the Roxy didn’t receive its proper due because it was never properly represented on a vinyl bootleg, but the bootleg CD is considered one of the best around; and the Southeast United States was hit by a wave of thunderstorms on the night of September 30 that caused interference in the radio reception.

FOX theatre poster

And what has became evident is that more than just a handful of the thousands of listeners at home were recording the broadcasts to be listened to over and over again.  It didn’t matter if the recording was made using expensive, state-of-the-art stereo equipment or by holding a Radio Shack cassette player up to the speakers of a transistor radio, those tapes were treated like gold by many of those home-tapers.  There have been countless stories posted to various online Springsteen forums over the years of how people played those tapes until they literally disintegrated.

But not everyone rolling tape on each of the broadcasts were doing so for completely altruistic purposes.  Within months, vinyl copies of each broadcast were available for purchase at independent record stores and mail order outlets that advertised in the classified section of Goldmine magazine and similar publications.  This development enabled even more fans to hear these amazing shows in the same outstanding quality — give or take some vinyl degradation — as they originally aired, which was quite a change from most bootlegs at the time.  We’ll pass on the ethical discussion concerning these non-sanctioned releases at this time, though.

Over time, the titles given these original vinyl pressings quickly became part of the Springsteen discussion.  The Cleveland, OH, show from August 9 was released with the title, “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”; the September 19 show in Passaic, NJ, “Piece de Resistance”; and December 15 from San Francisco “Live in the Promised Land.”  Some fans didn’t know the dates of the shows, but just the title of the vinyl bootleg.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that the first bootleg CD releases of these shows in the early 1990s carried the same title.

WMMS Poster

In addition to the great sound on those vinyl bootlegs, the packaging of those releases bordered on professional quality.  Each was released in a cardboard box, much like the one in which “Live 75-85” was initially released, with cover graphics that, while not fancy, were certainly beyond the black and white inserts included with many bootlegs of the time.  And “Live in the Promised Land” featured a small poster featuring a photo of Bruce and Clarence taken at the actual show.

Between the excellent sound quality and the solid-if-unspectacular packaging, these vinyl bootlegs became the unofficial and de facto Springsteen live albums, and remained as such until “Live 75-85” was released in late 1986.  And as live albums go, you really couldn’t do much better than those releases; the 1978 tour was Bruce at his most intense, emotionally baring all each night, and then releasing all that angst in a ten-minute version of “Quarter to Three” that neither Bruce nor the crowd wanted to end.  And the recordings of those shows, whether they were on vinyl or cassette (or, later, CD), were treasured like the Holy Grail.

While most items treated like gold are put away in a safe place, the tapes of those shows were played repeatedly, until the songs and, more humorously, the between-song banter had became burned into the collective memory of Springsteen fans worldwide, even if each fan was listening separately.  That shared, but separate, listening experience has become a bond for Bruce fans over the years; who else would know about Dominic, Eddie, and Matty, to each of whom Bruce dedicated a song during the Passaic show, or that vomiting in your girl’s purse was allowed during “Sherry Darling” in Cleveland, or that Bruce revealed himself to be a private detective during the December 15 broadcast and was searching for the girl who jilted him after they ran away together?  And, of course, there’s Kid Leo’s intro from the Agora:  “Round for round, pound for pound, there ain’t no finer band around,” a description of the band that described them in 1978 and still describes them today.

Then, of course, there are the songs, many of them in their definitive arrangement: the surging start to “Badlands,” the slow harmonica intro to “The Promised Land,” Danny’s sad but beautiful organ before the band kicked into “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” and, of course, the extended piano and guitar jam that segued into “Prove It All Night.”  The album may have been nearly perfect, but Bruce improved upon them on-stage, and it’s those live ‘78 performances from the radio broadcasts that many fans hear when they play those songs in their heads.  Even songs unreleased by Bruce at the time — “Fire,” “Because the Night,” and “The Fever” — were performed in what easily could have been their definitive arrangements.

For many fans, these songs weren’t just the definitive versions or their favorite versions of the songs, they were The Songs.  The songs just didn’t sound “right” when heard from any other source, including the album and subsequent live performances.  Hearing “The Ties That Bind” when the piano after the opening drum beats was replaced by guitar was jarring; if the fading music of “Racing in the Street” didn’t include Bruce talking about driving in the dessert and an old Robert Mitchum film before segueing into “Thunder Road,” something was missing; and if “Streets of Fire” opened with anything other than that searing guitar solo as played in Passaic, well, then, the world was just off-kilter.

One particular trait of Springsteen fans is their evangelical desire to spread the Gospel of Bruce, and the tapes of those shows were always Exhibit A when a non-believer was met.  We could safely speculate that thousands of copies of those radio broadcasts were made in dorm rooms or basements in the months and years after the original broadcast dates.  Now whether or not Passiac, Agora, or Winterland converted thousands of non-believers into Bruce Tramps is another story, but it is hard to imagine that no further copies of those tapes were made.

Or maybe it’s not another story as to whether those copied tapes converted fans.  Less than a year after the Darkness tour ended, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were added to the already-lengthy list of performers at the Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and what had been shaping up to be the bastard cousin of Woodstock turned into Bruce’s coming out party to the rock world.  The media attention generated by Bruce’s participation far out-weighed what the shows had been receiving when the Doobie Brothers and Crosby, Stills, and Nash were the headliners.  Bruce and the E Street Band played two of the five nights, with the “Bruuucing!” from the audience leaving both Chaka Khan and Bonnie Raitt wishing his mother had named him something else.  Of course, 13 months prior to the MUSE shows, Bruce sold out three nights at the same venue by himself, but things were clearly on a different level when Bruce was the media focus of the multi-artist bill.  The resulting live album and concert film from MUSE also contributed heavily to Bruce’s popularity growth prior to the release of his fifth album, but the momentum from the Darkness tour, and the radio broadcasts, put him squarely in the position to explode.

And explode he did.  Through his first four albums, Bruce’s highest position on Billboard’s singles charts with one of his own songs (the Pointer Sisters hit the Top Ten with “Fire” and Patti Smith hit the Top 20 with “Because the Night”) was 23 (with the “Born to Run” single) although both the Born to Run and Darkness LPs peaked in the Top Ten on the album charts.  However, in the fall of 1980, the lead single from “The River” album, “Hungry Heart,” hit the Top Ten on the singles charts, the first of nearly a dozen times that would happen over the ensuing decade.


From a touring standpoint, the explosion was even bigger.  Most of the 1978 tour was spent in mid-sized arenas and theatres, only playing the major arenas on the East Coast.  However, the 1980 tour was booked in major arenas nearly all across the country, often multiple nights.  In May 1978, Bruce played three nights at the Boston Music Hall, but in December 1980, he played two nights at the Boston Garden.  He played two nights in Pittsburgh at the end of the 1978 jaunt at the Stanley Theatre, and he played two more nights there in 1980, but at the Civic Center, the same place the professional hockey team called home.

In the 32+ years since the Darkness tour, several generations of Springsteen fans have discovered the world of “fan-based recordings” through one path or another.  If the fan has already seen a live Bruce show, their first show to track down is the one(s) they’ve seen, but next on the list are the 1978 radio broadcasts, with the stellar sound quality and amazing performances.  And when a fan, especially one just discovering Bruce’s music, hears the “Prove It All Night” with the long guitar intro or experiences (there’s really no other way to describe it, even through “just” a recording) the emotionally raw “Backstreets” interlude for the first time, they’re hooked.  It’s not difficult to see why these particular shows — the Agora, Passaic, and Winterland — have played such a huge role in the Springsteen fan community.

While we’ll never be able to quantify how much of a role those radio broadcasts had in the wave momentum that took Bruce from Northeast Cult Artist to Top Ten Rocker, it’s a component that certainly cannot be ignored.

Flynn Mclean

Discover the limited edition Bruce Springsteen book, The Light in Darkness.
The Light in Darkness is a collector’s edition, we are almost sold out. Less than 120 copies remain.
A great companion piece to The Promise box set, it focuses on the 1978 Darkness on The Edge of Town album and tour.
Read about the iconic concerts from fans who were there – the Agora, Winterland, Roxy, MSG, Capitol Theatre, Boston Music Hall, The Spectrum and over seventy more!
Click Here to Order Now and Save on Shipping:
The Light in Darkness

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Proving It Every Night

It was in high school in the early 1990s. A friend of mine and I had pooled our resources and bought an interesting import CD at a local record show in the Florida panhandle. It was called Smalltown Boy and it featured the kind of performance that seemed to go against everything I knew about Bruce Springsteen, which was admittedly very little. I had only recently started to listen to his studio albums, borrowing them from my friend’s older brothers who got them from the Columbia Music Club. Needless to say, this album was different than anything I had heard so far. First of all, I only recognized the names of about half of the songs listed. Secondly, there was an immediacy to these performances on the disc that brought you right into the venue, a seemingly small club that might be just around the corner. But it wasn’t; it was in a strange place called Bryn Mawr, which for all I knew was a small Welsh community. The fact that there were a few audio distortions in the recording made the sound seem even better, like tasting a bit of salt in between licks of an ice cream cone. It really emphasized how live and real it was. And then there were the stories, the asides and the songs I’d never heard before. This was our own little treasure, our forbidden fruit, and a secret Bruce Springsteen that was miles away from the flag-waving muscleman that most of my friends associated him with. The person I heard on this CD was greasy and funky, had friends with funny names, told stories about ducks and metal flake upholstery, sang for his girlfriend’s sister and had the coolest band introductions I’d ever heard in my life.

Bruce Springsteen Smalltown Boy

This left me in a daze. How could this live performance be so different than Bruce’s public persona? It was so odd, so grungy and so wonderful. How did the guy that did that forced looking “Dancing in the Dark” video do this as well? I didn’t have an answer, but another question did arise. What else was in this unknown world of Bruce Springsteen waiting to be discovered?

Record shows were few and far between in our region, but I noticed that there were a few interesting advertisements in the Record Collector magazines that I saw on the shelves in the local bookstore. They tantalizingly listed more of these recordings. That first one had whet our appetite and now were we were ready for more. The first problem was money. We were merely high school kids and these were expensive, generally twice as much as any normal CD in the mall. On top of that, there were so many listed, how would we know which ones we should take a chance on? They seemed to be from all different eras and sources. I had heard rumors of bad recordings and short discs and we really didn’t want to waste our money when they cost so much.

Bruce Springsteen Smalltown Boy back

But this only made us want them more, it added to the quest, the exclusivity of it made us drool in anticipation as we started the search for treasure among the trash, a big monetary risk for an unknown reward. To the rescue came a borrowed copy of “You Better Not Touch,” a guide to these recordings that was featured in Backstreets Magazine. We carefully sifted through those pages, making notes and eventually choosing a few of them to hopefully buy. Hopefully, I say, because the process was a little bit intimidating. These were sold by overseas merchants, and it involved going to the post office to get an international money order, sending a ridiculous amount of money to a stranger and hoping for a response.

Once the money was in the mail, there was nothing to do but wait. There was no guarantee that we’d ever receive anything back. It was like a big black hole that you threw money into, and for some inexplicable reason, expected to receive CDs from in return. It sounded like a scam, but we were hooked on the first one, so we sent off our order. Truly, the waiting was the hardest part. Each day you would wonder if the mailman had stopped by yet, hoping there was a package with exotic looking postage on it.

And one day, there was!

It was part of a larger order, with other eager students in class getting discs of their own favorite bands. My friend had chosen Live In The Promised Land and I went for Pièce de Résistance. We took them home and listened.

Bruce Springsteen Live in the Promised Land

I think we both knew very quickly that things had just moved to another level. This was no longer a funky cat telling funny stories and playing lovable rave-ups. This was a guy that was playing the greatest rock and roll that I had ever heard. It wasn’t just that he was playing the songs from his latest LP in front of an audience, but he was playing songs off of an incredible album, supercharging them to a state that seemed to send the whole audience (and this listener) into the stratosphere.

It starts with those 10 songs off Darkness on the Edge of Town. This album describes to me what it’s like to mature into an adult; it reassures that being a man isn’t about machismo; it explains that there are principles that people have, which they must stand up for. It’s about knowing that this is a cruel place to be, but that there’s a way through it, even if it’s not going to be pleasant.

When Bruce made this album, he was letting us know that he knew one of the secrets of the world. When he toured behind it in 1978, he let us know what that secret was. And what I heard was an explosion of rock and roll. It was filled with fury and passion, with parts of pure joy and goofiness. The songs from the album were performed in a way that wouldn’t be possible again. He was living these songs every night on stage and more importantly, off it, not looking back at them as he does today and channeling the hungry person he was when he wrote them.

When he sang back then, he hadn’t yet made it through the badlands, so everything took on a more desperate tone. To me, these are the most powerful versions of the Darkness on the Edge of Town songs, embellished from the album, with searing guitars and sweaty sax, with grunts, yelps, screeches and screams. All of this was the basis of the show, these already incredible songs being done in a way that spoke right to your soul, that showed someone looking for what you were looking for, struggling to find it, and knowing that the struggle is part of the answer.

Bruce Springsteen Piece De Resistance

From the first cut off the first disc, “Badlands,” the band charged with such incredible energy. Bruce is either singing or something is escaping from deep inside, I can’t really tell. The song ends with a scream, not something gratuitous, but a necessary exhortation, where nothing in the English language would do. It should be said that there is nobody that can do this like Bruce, growling out conviction and excitement with nary a word.

Then comes a great moment as the wind down of the first song melds straight into the ferocious guitar of “Streets of Fire.” You’ve just walked through a one-way door. It’s like you’ve only ever driven a golf cart before, and now you’re in a hotrod. The gas pedal has been pushed and all you feel is the acceleration in your back. It’s scary and it’s powerful, and you want to feel it again. These concerts seemed to be filled with these specials moments that make you just shake your head at how spot-on they are. This is how rock and roll should be.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is all its title suggests, but with more, with a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s bad now and it’s going to stay that way for a while, but it can change. The final “HUUHH,” is absolutely visceral and it can’t be any other way. It’s Darkness on the Edge of Town; there are no other words that need to be said, just a knowing nod is enough.

Bruce slaved over these lyrics, getting exactly the phrasing and images he wanted, so there’s nothing I can say about them except that they hit me right in the gut. They’re primordial and they say things that I always knew, but couldn’t express. The brilliance of the writing comes to the forefront, the nuance, what is said and left unsaid, what he tells you and what work is left for you, it is all expertly crafted.

It cannot be emphasized enough: The Darkness album is not the same without the Darkness Tour, and the tour couldn’t have been what it was without those amazingly written songs. And it’s not just those lyrics, but also the way they are sung. The reason a great song becomes a great performance is the way the singer communicates the message to you. The audience has to believe what they’re hearing. It can’t sound fake or made up and it can’t sound contrived or phony. It has to be authentic, and that’s the only way Bruce knows how to be. There’s no question that he is living these songs and that he’s singing from his own experience. We’re back to the music, and after asking the crowd for the latest baseball score, he then moves on to “The Promised Land,” with its harmonica, and he has hit upon something special.

And then the big one, the one everybody talks about. The one that tears your eardrums in half while you want to turn the volume up even higher. It’s “Prove It All Night,” and the way it was performed in 1978 was like nothing ever before or since. If you’ve heard it, you’ll never forget it.

There’s a big debate amongst fans about which one is the best, as it was played a little differently every night. There’s no wrong answer here, but for me, my favorite is from the Winterland show. It never stops. It never stumbles. It sways back and forth perfectly. It pierces your head. And unlike the way other shows from that tour were captured, the guitar is way up front in the mix, slicing away and not buried in with the rest of the band. There’s a point where it sounds like he puts the guitar right in your face. It sounds ludicrous but it’s true. And then another one of those moments comes. Just as the intro fades into the song, the audio is full of distortion; it’s too loud. It cannot be contained by the recording medium as the madness of the intro turns into the song we thought we knew. It’s like you slipped under water and you’re drowning for just a moment, and then your head pops back up and you gasp for air. If this were ever released officially, I would never want that moment to be cleaned up.

The first break comes and it’s: huh, Huh, HUUUUH! Let’s go! I can’t express how marvelously those five syllables come out. Clarence blares out the solo, then Bruce turns on his chainsaw for a quick burst of pure energy. How can anyone sit in their seat and listen to this? I feel nothing but raw adrenaline and this is years after the fact. What were those poor souls who were in the building feeling? How did they cope? How did they process what they were hearing and seeing? Bruce roars through the last verse and then melts more faces with the outro solo and Danny’s organ. It’s hard just to put into context; it’s so off the charts for me. All of this and we’re still in the first set of the show. The amazing “Racing in the Street” comes next, the Geronimo story and then “Thunder Road.” It’s moving enough that you understand why Bruce kisses Clarence right smack on the lips. It can’t be explained and it doesn’t need to be because it’s all right there, aural evidence that you’re experiencing something significant disguised as a rock concert.

Later I expanded with the shows from the Roxy and the Agora, each having their own different brilliant moments, those moments. With the opening drums and guitar of “Summertime Blues” at the Agora, it sounded like the band is sitting right in the room in front of you. The story of “Growin’ Up” showed the full cosmic irreverence of the band. With the Roxy, it’s the cocksure attitude of “Rave On” opening the show, the off-the-cuff “Heartbreak Hotel” and the lovable “Paradise By The C” that dares you not to shake your butt, contrasted with a heavy “Adam Raised a Cain” and the jungle-like “Mona/She’s the One.” And “Backstreets,” every time there was “Backstreets.” The emotional build up and release. You couldn’t just play that song at any arbitrary time, you had to be ready for it, you had to know you could make it through, because this wasn’t any bubblegum pop song playing in the background on the radio. This was a monumental piece of drama, ready to draw tears from your eyes and make you feign you had something caught in your throat. Fortunately you know that “Rosalita,” “The Detroit Medley” and “Quarter to Three” were likely not far behind, ready to give relief.

You’d think that it can’t get much better than this, but it does, because then came the video. I can’t actually remember how this came to be in our hands. After memorizing these broadcasts, seeing what was happening was like a blind man opening his eyes for the first time. I remember seeing the joy on Bruce’s face with Clarence hanging over shoulder, the happiness that can’t be contained as he rambles through “Sweet Little Sixteen” or busts out the opening solo. The unbounded charisma and the nose picking. You can’t teach this stuff. Bruce is all over the stage. It’s like those dynamic 15 minutes from the No Nukes movie, but for three hours. Someone throws a Duke St. (Kings) hat and Bruce catches it mid-step while on top of a huge stack of speakers and wears it around. I mean, who is this guy?

This is a taste of why Darkness on the Edge of Town album and tour resonates so much with me. I write this as someone who was late to the party, who wasn’t there, and who heard all of this secondhand and in diluted form. And it still knocks my socks off every time. The incredibly moving and relatable songs that were whittled down to a dangerous blade. The powerhouse versions. The levity of the covers. The long shows and the unreleased songs. The stories, both ridiculously campy and honest, and the manic, heart-stopping endings. I can only imagine what it would have been like in person.

There was an order of CDs that disappeared into a black hole, that we never received back in our high school days. I never worried about it though; as after we got those first two records, I knew we had already gotten more than our money’s worth.

Josh Auzins

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