Saturday, January 5, 2013
Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.: Now *This* Is 40
Back when I was a dumb little kid, history didn't exist. If I discovered something, it was mine. I first saw the James Bond film "Goldfinger" in 1971, therefore it was the first James Bond film. "Dr. No" and "From Russia With Love" didn't exist. My first exposure to David Bowie was "Ziggy Stardust," so nothing prior mattered. In my world, there was nothing prior.
In 1974, the World Series was still played during the day...DURING THE WEEK. I have vivid memories of sitting in my grandfather's living room, beaming over the bright greens and yellows on Joe Rudi's cap and listening to Curt Gowdy call play by play. For some reason, though I know the dates will confuse this, I also remember a commercial that ran over and over during those games. It was for Columbia House, maybe, and it highlighted three records; Steve Miller's "Fly Like An Eagle" Robin Trower's "Bridge Of Sighs," and Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run." Is that possible? It could have been 1975, but the Oakland A's sat that year out. I bet it was 1976. Ah yes, I remember it...well... kind of.
The Bruce portion of that commercial had a soundbite from "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," that segment of the bridge where the Boss bellows, "I'm on my ooowwwwnn!" The visual was the "Born To Run" album cover swirling on some plastic record display, something similar to one of those racks of sunglasses that pop up on the ground floors of malls. (Am I hallucinating?) I was sold with that 10 second soundbite, if it was that long. That was my first exposure to Bruce. "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." and "The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle" didn't exist.
It's been 40 years to the day that "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." was delivered to the rock and roll world. History of course, not only exists, it was changed on that day.
I can't imagine what a young Ringo wannabe like myself, who had been sucking on Beatles since I first learned to suck and who made the bumpy transition to the glam of T. Rex and Mott The Hoople while most of my young friends were still listening to The Carpenters, would have made of a record like "Greetings" had it come my way at the time. Even as a pre-teen, my musical tastes were far more advanced than your average kid with a slingshot in his back pocket. I listened to Dylan, but I didn't really know what he was saying. I listened to Yes & King Crimson, until I lost patience.
Years later, as I wore out the grooves of "Darkness On The Edge Of Town," I refused to believe that "Blinded By The Light" wasn't a Manfred Mann original. Bruce Springsteen did not exist in my world before "Born To Run" until it all hit me at once in 1978, on a fantastic night in my bedroom, listening to and recording WNEW-FM's simulcast of the E-Street Band from the Capitol Theatre in New Jersey. History was made that night, as well.
It's hard to believe 40 years have come and gone since "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." introduced Bruce Springsteen to music fanatics across the globe. I don't regret having come late to the party. Having still been wet behind the ears, a record with such depth would have been wasted on youthful ignorance. Hell, it's 40 years later and I'm still discovering phrases and musical passages on that record that would never have moved me so many years ago.