Bruce Springsteen: Songs

Bruce Springsteen: Songs

by Bruce Springsteen

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380796113
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/07/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.00(d)

About the Author

“The Boss” hit the music industry with the release of his first album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., in 1973. The Wild, the Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle quickly followed this release. The albums received critical claim with comparisons to Bob Dylan, but did not sell well with the fans. Bruce Springsteen’s career had begun.

Springsteen was born in Freehold, New Jersey, on September 23, 1949. He grew up in a “normal middle class family” and first started playing around with the guitar in High School. After graduating from High School he moved to New York to try and break into the Folk Music scene. After getting nowhere on this front he returned to, be it reluctantly, to Asbury Park, N.J. and hooked up with a number of bands. With brief stints with such bands as Rogues and Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, Springsteen found himself a place with the E-Street Band, and with them he remained until 1989. Though, this wouldn’t be the last time they would play together.

The 1973 albums marked the beginning of Springsteen’s career and since then, “The Boss” has sold tens of millions of albums and won over legions of loyal fans worldwide in his 30 plus years as a “rock and roll legend”. His break came after a tour with the band Chicago. Springsteen captivated the audiences in these live shows, and seeing an opportunity, the singer-songwriter came up with what is called his breakthrough effort Born to Run in 1974. The title song “Thunder Road”’s continuous playing on the radio brought the album to the top five. The album received an abundant of praise leading Springsteen to be dubbed the “Savior of Rock & Roll”. Magazine’s and Newspaper’s were swarming to get him to appear in their publications.

After spending some time resolving management issues, the 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town was released. Marking the first of Springsteen’s darker albums. Following this the album The River, in 1980 quickly went platinum in the United States and established Springsteen as an international star. Next was the release of his second darker album 1982’s Nebraska. This album, an artistic despairing acoustic style recording, was recorded live in his New Jersey home and wasn’t followed by a tour.

Switching gears again, “The Boss’s” most famous release Born in the U.S.A came out in 1984. This pop style arena rock album sold 20 million copies and was followed by a massive two year long world wide tour. The new working class image of Born in the U.S.A. made Springsteen an international superstar. “The Boss” was born!

1987’s Tunnel of Love was released during a time when Springsteen was facing marital problems. He began singing of lost love, emotional turmoil, and other adult concerns. He set off after this for one more tour with the E-Street Band and then in 1989 they parted ways. Three years later he released two albums Human Touch and Lucky Town. The first, Human Touch, was more radio orientated while Lucky Town, the latter, is seen as a step forward for the Springsteen. He did a stint on MTV’s Unplugged program and then resumed touring in 1993.

Springsteen released the song “Streets of Philadelphia” for the movie “Philadelphia” which won him a Grammy award and an Oscar for “Best Song”. With his career in full-comeback, he released a “Greatest Hits” album which seen him re-unit with the E-Street Band for some new tracks. Next came 1995’s The Ghost of Tom Joad which was a return for Springsteen to the folk music style of his early career. This was followed by a release from Columbia records of a box set including 56 previously unreleased tracks and 10 B-sides called Tracks, in 1998.

After 30 years he is still going strong, “The Boss” is currently touring internationally and we can only wait and see what will be next.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

In 1971, after years of playing music in high school gyms, beach clubs, and bars up and down the New Jersey Shore, I found myself at a crossroads. The local music scene was overflowing with Top 40 cover bands. There wasn't a lot of interest in hearing original music, which is what I mainly played. At twenty-one, I already had a good deal of local success, playing to as many as three thousand people at my own shows. My band Steel Mill and I had done it all without a recording contract. But my first trip to California with the band had opened me up to new musical ideas. Upon returning home, I changed musical direction and began to perform under my own name. But now it'd gotten hard to find steady work playing my own songs with a band. I decided I was going to write some music to survive on with just myself and the guitar.

One day a former manager and friend, Carl "Tinker" West, drove by my house in Highlands, New Jersey. I was sitting on the front steps. He shouted through the car window that he was going up to New York City. He had met a music publisher named Mike Appel and why didn't I take the ride with him and play him a few songs? I grabbed my guitar and hopped into Tinker's car and a couple of hours later met Mike. After he heard some music, he said he was interested in working with me, wanted to publish my songs, and together we'd see where it might lead.

I'd been going through some hard times in New Jersey for a while, and I planned, once again, to leave the state. Plus, I had heard plenty of promises before. So I left that day telling Mike I was interested, but without making a commitment. That Christmas, Tinker and I drove crosscountry to California. I visited my folks and spent several months trying to make a living as a musician in the Bay Area. It didn't work out. There were too many good musicians, and I'd left my rep as "bar band king" in Jersey. So it was back home for me. I did a few gigs at the Shore with the band for seed money and made a call to Mike Appel in New York City. I met Mike's partner, Jim Cretecos, and they signed me to an exclusive recording, publishing, and management deal.

Though I'd never known anyone who had made a professional record, I knew two things: one, I wanted to sign to a record company as a solo artist-the music I'd been writing on my own was more individual than the material I'd been working up with my bands. The independence of being a solo performer was important to me. And two, I was going to need a good group of songs if I ever did get the chance to record.

I went home and started to work on the songs for Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ They were

written in a style that had developed out of my earlier acoustic writing. From the late '60s on, I always had a notebook full of acoustic songs. I'd do the occasional coffeehouse, but mostly that material went unused. The songs required too much attention for a crowded bar on a Saturday night.

I did most of my writing in the back of a closed beauty salon on the floor beneath my apartment in Asbury Park. There I had an Aeolian spinet piano my aunt had given me, and amidst the old hairdryers and washing sinks, I wrote the songs that comprised Greetings.

Greetings was the only album where I wrote the lyrics first, setting them to music later. I'd write the verses, then pick up the guitar or sit at the piano and follow the inner rhythm of the words. I traveled to New York City on the bus, trying whatever I'd written latest out on Mike and Jimmy. They were enthusiastic, so I kept on plugging.

Most of the songs were twisted autobiographies. "Growin' Up," "Does This Bus Stop," "Blinded by the Light," "Spirit in the Night," "For You," "Lost in the Flood," "Saint in the City" found their seed in people, places, hang-outs, and incidents I'd seen and things I'd lived. I wrote impressionistically and changed names to protect the guilty. I worked to find something that was identifiably mine.

After a few disappointing auditions, Mike talked his way into Columbia Records, and I was signed by the legendary A&R man John Hammond and Clive Davis, president of the label. We cut Greetings in three weeks. But Clive handed it back and said there was nothing that could be played on the radio. I'm glad he did; I went home and wrote "Blinded by the Light" and "Spirit in the Night." With the previously missing Clarence Clemons on saxophone, these songs were recorded, and the record was finished.

I never wrote in that style again. Once the record was released, I heard all the "new Dylan" comparisons, so I steered away from it. But the lyrics and spirit of Greetings came from a very unselfconscious place. Your early songs come out of a moment when you're writing with no sure prospect of ever being heard. Up until then, it's just you and your music. That only happens once...

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