The Date: June 1979
The Setting: My bedroom listening to the stereo (93.3 WMMR, Philadelphia)
The Song: The Promised Land
Prior to this red letter date in my life, I had a deep appreciation for Rock and Roll music. Elvis, Jerry Lee, Little Richard, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Five Satins, Dion and the Belmonts, Frankie Valli, The Toys, The Kingsmen, etc. Then, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones drifted in. There were a few more modern bands that I loved such as ELO, Jethro Tull, Steve Miller Band and Boston.
The one thing missing from my life at the time that these bands could not provide was the emotional connection I was about to receive when hearing The Promised Land for the first time ever. Bruce’s harmonica to open the song was so prominant in the song it was like no other harmonica part on any rock and roll or blues song. It sounded so different to me, it was like a totally different instrument.
The next morning, I walked a mile to the record store and purchased Darkness on the Edge of Town. I sat on the curb outside the store and opened the sleeve and pulled out the lyric sheet. You could say that this was my 1979 version of Text Messaging, because I walked with my head down, reading the song lyrics the entire way home. Got home and put on the album. What happened during the following 45 minutes became the beginning of a transformation in my personality and the way I began to see the world as a thirteen year-old.
People screwing with you? Badlands addressed it.
Parents don’t understand you? Adam Raised A Cain addressed it.
The feeling of isolation? Something In The Night addressed.
Sexual Tension? Candy’s Room addressed.
The desire to escape the confines of your three bedroom house? Racing In The Street addressed it.
Feeling a coming-of-age about to happen? The Promised Land addressed it.
See your Father’s reality? Factory addressed it.
Loneliness? Rage? Streets of Fire addressed it.
In need of adventure? Passion? Prove It All Night addressed it.
The desire to prove yourself; to show them? Girlfriend dumped you?? Darkness On The Edge of Town addressed it.
This album provided for me, and for many teens in the late seventies, what no television show, no book, no film, no other person could provide that allowed us, for 45 minutes each day, to escape from parents, older siblings, Catholic School, football and baseball coaches, and anyone who told you what to do and what to say and how to do it….23 hours and 15 minutes a day.
It remains, to this day, the single most effective form of therapy I have ever received. The single most influential piece of art I have ever listened to or looked at. If it hadn’t creeped into my bedroom on that hot summer afternoon, I hate to think how things might’ve ended up. Thank God it did.
“Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
you wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
for a moment that just don’t come
Well, don’t waste your time waiting.”