First of all, I apologize for not having blogged in quite a while. I have been busy doing publicity for the recently released What Becomes and trying to complete a first draft for my 4th novel. Not to mention some research manuscripts, a wedding and those annoying activities of daily living. I’ve also been working on a draft of an ambitious blog which will explain why everything in America is going to hell in a hand-basket, and better yet, I’ll provide you with the solution. However, that’s going to have to wait till after my son Taylor’s wedding to Lea. Have patience. However, I saw something on the internet last week that made me feel really good and that I wanted to share.
Actor and front man for the Australian rock band Creo, Jorjee Haman, wrote a love letter to Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Any of you that follow my blog knows that I end each one with an appropriate You Tube Springsteen video. In my heart, I know each of you give them a play. Even if they don’t bring back heart-filling and re-vitalizing memories, I know they’re enjoyed. In dark moments, I wonder if the music videos might sometimes be skipped, but I really don’t believe it. Either way, Jorjee Haman’s love letter brought a smile to my face. It was nice to find out that I’m not alone.
Following the massive commercial success of “Born to Run”, Springsteen’s career was almost derailed by a 3 year gap in productivity brought on by legal battles with his former manager Mike Apple. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” was released in June of 1978 with a decidedly different tone. The rebellious boy of “Born to Run” had matured into a defiant working class man ready to face the darkness that exists in this world. It was less commercial than his previous albums but struck a cord with fans like myself and Diane who were no longer Jersey college kids and we were also looking into the harsh lights of growing up. The album offered a balance between sad reflections on circumstances which seemed to be dream crushing (Racing in the Street and Darkness on the Edge of Town) and other songs which were rallying anthems demanding better than circumstances seemed to be allowing (Badlands and The Promised Land). Despite lacking any #1 singles, “Darkness on the Edge of Town” went triple platinum, stayed on the album charts for 97 weeks and is ranked #151 on the Rolling Stones list of the top 500 albums of all time.
Songs on Side 1 were Badlands, Adam Raised a Cain, Something in the Night, Candy’s Room, and Racing in the Streets. Side 2 contained The Promised Land, Factory, Street of Fire, Prove it all Night and Darkness on the Edge of Town. After several years of inability to record, Springsteen had a chest of songs that didn’t make it onto the final album. Some of them ended up on “The River” and many others were simply given away to friends: Because the Night to Patti Smith, Fire to the Pointer Sisters, Rendezvous to Greg Kihn, This Little Girl to Gary US Bonds and several to close friend Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes for their “Hearts of Stone” album.
In one of the great nights of a lifetime, Diane and I saw Springsteen and the E Street Band on the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour with about 3,000 other people at the Guillard Auditorium in early 1979. No longer college knuckleheads, we were now working for a living, but he was still speaking directly to us. What was Jorjee Haman’s experience with “Darkness on the Edge of Town”?
“Darkness on the Edge of Town,
We met when I was only four years old, and even though I was too young to understand what you were trying to say, I knew it meant something, Your passion, intent and genuineness shone through. The outpouring of emotion was felt even in my infant chest, so much so it brought me to my knees, begging my mother to buy me a guitar, just so I could try to mimic the way you spoke to me.
It’s funny, as years go by and we grow older, most relationships would consequently flutter apart, but not ours. You’ve always stuck by me, conveniently popping up and guiding me through pivotal moments of my life. Together we screamed “Adam Raised a Cain” in our teenage-angst-fits of rage, whilst you also re-assured me in “Promised Land” that it was ok to dream, even if it does seem childish. Or how about the time I ironically sat in my bedroom (all night) listening to “Prove It All Night” on repeat trying to learn the guitar solo, note by note, by ear? Almost as a token of respect, there was no cheating, no online tablature, just you, and me, back and forth till I had it perfected and we could play it as a duet.
Nothing speaks to me more than your words in Badlands; “Talk about a dream. Try to make it real.” These two simple lines have been my mantra- my guiding light whenever my torch has run out of battery.
You continue to be the endless source of inspiration I need to keep pushing me on, and for that I am forever grateful. One day I will be old, grey wrinkled and frail, you’ll be speaking to me in my final days, still teaching up until my flame burns out. Your flame on the other hand will never die, forever invincible, sharing your spirit amongst those lucky enough to discover you just like I did.
Dave Marsh in the Rolling Stone magazine published July 27th, 1978 described “Darkness on the Edge of Town” as a landmark record in rock and roll. Marsh wrote, “What they’ve always said was that someday Bruce Springsteen would make rock and roll that would shake men’s souls and make them question the direction of their lives. That would do, in short, all the marvelous things rock has always promised to do.”
In his love letter Jorjee Haman mentions The Promised Land which I will will include as a video. “Mister, I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man. And I believe in a promised land.” I believed that then and I believe it now. However, since this is my blog I will add another video, Candy’s Room which is one of my favorites from “Darkness.” “What they don’t see, is that what… she…. wants….is me.” Both videos are selected from Springsteen’s late 1970’s tour. They are a little grainy and not the greatest audio quality, but they best reveal the intensity of his performance and his urgency in fighting the darkness.