Saturday, January 5, 2013

Speaking Of Debut Albums …



… Well I was. Yesterday.
But, anyway, speaking of debut albums, it turns out that Columbia records released Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. forty years ago today.
An excellent debut album, to be sure, but it’s not one of those debut albums that changed my perspective on rock music. Not because it wasn’t an incredibly original record when it came out in 1973 – it was – but because I didn’t really listen to Greetings From Asbury Park till long after it was released. In fact, if we’re in full confessional mode here, I wasn’t really into Bruce Springsteen when I first heard him. My first exposure to Bruce came in the form of Born To Run (1975), which one of my sisters bought shortly after it came out, and, after listening to it a few times, I was not really moved.
In retrospect, Born To Run is phenomenal, but it’s highly produced, technically precise, and, to be blunt, it wasn’t what I was looking for in the mid-’70s. Darkness On The Edge of Town (1978), on the other hand, was exactly what I was looking for the summer after sophomore year in high school: It was hard-edged, angry, gloomy, wistful, and real. It was less poetic than his earlier records, but, I thought, better in terms of songwriting. And in terms of ass-kicking.
I loved everything about that album, and after it came out, I went back and listened to Bruce’s first three – Greetings From Asbury Park, Born To Run, and his sophomore album, The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle (1973), which featured one of his earliest sing-along anthems, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” – and that’s when I really began to get the hype. When you listen to those albums in sequence, you come to realize there’s really nothing Bruce can’t do, musically, from folk to blues to soul to flat-out rock ’n roll.
And that was just the first five years of his now forty-year recording career. Remarkably, the guy’s never really let up.
Anyway, after all these years, this song – “Growin’ Up,” from Greetings From Asbury Park – is still one of my all time favorites:
I stood stone-like at midnight suspended in my masquerade

I combed my hair till it was just right and commanded the night brigade

I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch

I strolled all alone through a fallout zone and came out with my soul untouched

I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd but when they said “Sit down” I stood up.

Ooh-ooh growin’ up …
Hey, man. Who hasn’t been there.

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