Release date: 2 June 1978
Studio: Record Plant Studios in New York
Producers: Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, Steven Van Zandt
Bruce Springsteen is one of those names that we immediately associate with anything and everything American. The American stereotype and everything nice. But when it comes to his music people haven’t been able to see past “Born In The USA”. That is where we can find the lyrical genius of this man. One of his early albums, “Darkness On The Edge of Town” is a testament to his lyrical brilliance.
The rock god that he is; can be considered the ‘working class poet’. The reason being that his discography essentially chronicles the travails of the working class American trying to get by. He is found to tackle the topics of loneliness, sadness of routine and the pointlessness of life. He focusses on the littlest of things in this album as he starts off the album with a beautifully pieced song called “Badlands”. Here, he romanticises the aspect of just loving for the sake of loving and how fickle romantic endeavours are without selflessness. He satires passion by suggesting that people are fickle as can be. Moving on to “Adam Raised a Cain”; where he indulges in the troubled relationship between father and son. This largely alludes to the story of Adam and Cain, the son (Cain) who ends up killing his father (Adam). It is regarded as autobiographical, alluding to Bruce’s relationship with his own father.
The rough and powerful voice of “Adam Raised a Cain” is followed by a resonating melody “Something In The Night”. The ballad of broken love, this song is indicative how broken the lives of people are! The fact that one moment changes everything and the effect of a decision has on the people around us and the end of all things good. The pointless of life and relationships and the mechanical nature of life is portrayed beautifully. He suggests that we are simply chasing a feeling “something in the night”.
The singer is a master at changing rhythms and tones, what works brilliantly in terms of diversity in an album; Candy’s Room hits low. The song feels like an unnecessary addition to the album. An exaggerated version of an expression of desperation. The simplicity of his writing can be seen in the songs like “Racing In The Street”, “Factory” and “promised Land”. These songs find itself in a long list of Springsteen songs that is all about reading between the lines, a message bigger and more powerful than what meets the eye! The masterful strokes of the simplistic beats and tones is what makes most of his works such an easy hearing.
The observational writing that is Springsteen’s tradition is found a vocal companion in songs like “Promised Land” and “Racing In The Street”. He goes to the nitty-gritty of wording that makes for a good read as well. It is indeed enjoyable to just read his lyrics as well. The poetic brilliance of Springsteen is largely expressed in this album.
The album “Darkness On The Edge of Town” is more of a chronicle. In the sense that touches the nerve of the common working class man. The fact that the simple pleasures of life are a hard and resistant goal is expressed in this album. The album in itself is peppered with songs that are breezy details of the simplicity of life. The idea that we tend to complicate most things and seldom find pleasures in the smaller bounties of life. Springsteen has produced a gem in that he talks about the simple pleasures of country life such as driving, walking and telling tall tales. The essence of the carefree 70s is roaring through this album, embracing the trivial, troubled and tortured lives of the generation. The boredom of routine, the passion in finding love and holding someone close, the trouble of keeping love alive; all of these themes expressed in words of a commoner. Bruce Springsteen is still relevant because he talked about the daily hassles, the primal source of life. The pointless of it all is romanticised and still echoes through the pantheon of broken dreams. In these corridors of troubled souls life still thrives just as it should. What we see at the end of the road may well be pitch dark yet the stories live on.
Bruce Springsteen may not be for everyone. In that he is not your traditional rock n’ roll songwriter. He is the champion of the losers and all he ever says is that loss in itself is reflective and pure. If you wish to start listening to the real Springsteen, this album is a good start.
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