Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, "Blinded By The Light" (1973)

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The summer of 1977 was spent buzzing around in my friend Billy’s parent’s blue Chevy Nova. There were girls and waves of haze and a pile of 8-tracks in a puffy vinyl box on the passenger side floor. I’d love to say that we really dug blasting Greetings From Asbury Park N.J. on Billy’s Kraco, but that would be imparting more than a little revisionist spin. The truth is that I was about a year away from my first Bruce album experience (Born To Run, to be borrowed from the brother of a girlfriend I hadn’t yet met) and was much more likely to be listening to Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, the Steve Miller Band, Supertramp, and Alice Cooper.

…and “Blinded By The Light” by Manfred Mann.

His The Roaring Silence had been released the previous year, but the cover of “Blinded” had legs, going on to be a staple of rock radio for years to come. I guess my teen mind hadn’t developed much of an eye for detail because what stuck with me about the song was the spacy keyboards, followed by the lyric fragment “…wrapped up like a douche…” Just what the hell was that supposed to mean? We didn’t know. Or care.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of people, Springsteen fans among them, say that they like the Manfred Mann version better. While I’m certain that I heard the Mann version first, Bruce’s original knocked me out. I loved the guitar parts (both the quickly-strummed intro and the snappy fills that come in later) and the stream of consciousness story (by way of the thesaurus) of Bruce & the characters of Asbury Park. The words tumble out in one long, continuous flow, one whose meaning was not always obvious. But hey, life’s like that, isn’t it?


Next up: Growin’ Up.

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