Volume 94, Issue 8
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Welcome to Buried Treasure. We've intended this column to be a bi-weekly forum devoted to exposing readers to classic albums, books and films that might otherwise go tragically and undeservedly unnoticed.
Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Bruce Springsteen has had what is arguably one of the most artistically successful careers in the history of rock music. Over the course of nearly 30 years, the New Jersey born, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has been fighting for the spirit and soul of music and has earned a reputation for killer live shows. His marathon concerts last upwards of three hours, a fact virtually unheard of in this era of the 90-minute show which is particularly amazing given the fact he is now in his fifties.
If you grew up in the '80s and '90s, then chances are you know Springsteen for his super-slick, bombastic Born In The USA album, or think of him as the mild, mellow troubadour who performs politically charged, adult-contemporary music. Indeed, if you are looking for a Springsteen album that truly captures the energy and fervor of one of his performances, you'll have to go way back to 1973 and take a listen to his debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J..
From the opening rambunctiousness of "Blinded By The Light" to the closing swagger of "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City," Greetings ... doesn't let up on the steam-rolling force for a minute. Even the quieter moments, like the piano-based "The Angel," have a sense of urgency and excitement that truly demonstrate what it means for a young man to be caught up in the essence of real rock and roll.
With sundry tales of "Wizard imps and sweat sock imps" and "Sages of the subway," Bob Dylan is the major lyrical influence here. Dylan's impact is also felt in the way Springsteen sings on most of the record; he often sounds desperately rushed and out of breath particularly on "For You." The lyrics run into each like one long stream of words, almost as if he's got too much to say.
Different styles and genres compete for dominance throughout the album frequently within the same song. "Growing Up" sees Springsteen cast as a country-folk singer, while "Spirit Of The Night," which boasts some dexterous horn playing, is his take on classic rhythm and blues.
The record's finest song is "Lost in the Flood," an epic number that starts off as a mournful dirge, before blossoming into a full-bodied, organ led stomper. Along the way, Springsteen relates several tales of societal breakdown and loss of control. It is a brilliant piece and remains one of Springsteen's best works.
The thing that kept this 20-something Jersey Boy from collapsing under the weight of his ambitions is his frenetic, relentless pursuit of rock's true essence. On Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, , Springsteen never sounds anything less then utterly convinced that should he discover this secret, this Holy Grail, that lives will be saved or, at the very least, made more bearable. As he and the E-Street Band bash their way through one song after another of reckless, soulful rock 'n roll, the joy and dedication that drives him is evident.
Aaron St. John
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