“Tonight I’ll be on that hill cause I can’t stop, I’ll be on that hill with everything I got” sings Springsteen in the title track ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’. I’ve been a fan of Bruce Springsteen as long as I can remember, so yesterday. Naw, the admiration started when I found ‘The Essential Bruce Springsteen’ collection that my sister (the devil) owned. ‘Lonesome Day’ was the first song I loved before I found ‘Jungleland’ and so on. This is one of my favourite Springsteen albums for many reasons. There’s a theme of angst that runs through it, wanting to break away and find independence. The sound of the album is much clearer than the previous record, and there’s some of Bruce’s best guitar solo’s on this record too.
‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ is Bruce Springsteen’s fourth album, released in 1978. It was released 3 years after the massive ‘Born To Run’ which sent Springsteen onto every radio and into every living room in America. There’s no ‘hit’ like ‘Born To Run’ on the record, but many of his most enduring songs appear on this album. He created characters and told stories in songs such as ‘Badlands’, the album opener that picks up where ‘Born To Run‘ left off. He’s itching to get out and break free, its driving him crazy and he doesn’t want to sit back and wait for something to come. Check out these lyrics:
“You wake up in the night,
With a fear so real,
You spend your life waiting,
For a moment that just don’t come,
Well, don’t waste your time waiting”
‘Adam Raised A Cain’ comes flying in straight off a guitar solo with Bruce shredding his way through one of the album’s rockiest songs. It’s a song in reference to the Bible and Adam’s son Cain. I just think it sounds good. Then we’ve ‘Something In The Night’ which is an enduring song, slowly building from Bruce’s famous grunt to a piano rock driven song. It’s very good and typically, excellently written. Next up is another rock song in the shape of ‘Candy’s Eyes’ which can be read as his character going to meet a prostitute. Other men give her “fancy clothes and diamond rings“, but all she wants is him, and all he wants is her. The whole story paints the picture of it being a prostitute because he describe the meeting place and what not. ‘Racing In The Street’ has become one of those songs you can guarantee Bruce will play live, and another about breaking free and seeking more. The song is about racing cars, because it’s what makes him feel most alive.
The second half of this album has some of my favourite Springsteen songs. You’ve got ‘The Promised Land’, a song about the everyday man seeking the ‘moment’. You’ve got the hopeful guitar and the sax with piano in the background. Then the harmonica out of nowhere, and some backing vocals howling away. An absolute Springsteen classic. ‘Factory’ is solid but it’s the final three tracks that really solidify this record as one of his best. ‘Streets Of Fire’ is a little hard to understand but I stop by this one for the guitar solo. Just fucking class. Booming drums interrupt the quiet verse’s to really give the chorus some balls. ‘Prove It All Night’ was released as a single and is quick and has a kind of ‘love song’ vibe to the chorus. The song slips into a guitar solo again but this time a shorter one which doesn’t steal the show but add’s that serious rock sound. The final track, ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ is a song I will listen to forever. This song should be held up there with not only Springsteen’s best work, but up there with the best of what rock has offered to date. It’s the song writing, the desperation and then the fucking release of the chorus where he gets away. The darkness is one within himself but also the state of everyday life itself at the time. It’s the secrets you have and a side of you people don’t know.
This is my first Bruce Springsteen review but it won’t be my last. Anyone and everyone knows of Springsteen, maybe just his hits, but the real stories he’s famed for lie in songs such as the ones on this album. He has a way of making music accessible and simple, going out and connecting with the working class, and connecting with people almost individually. I can’t rate this album highly enough. He’s the Boss for a reason.
Photo Credit: Genius.com