Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" (1973)

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Much of Springsteen’s early work was populated with large casts of characters and places, skillfully woven into the narrative. Heck, sometimes the people and places were the narrative. But even though Bruce has admitted to putting together those songs with thesaurus in hand, the stories all managed to take shape — the reach toward adulthood of Growin’ Up, the delicious bad behavior of Spirit In The Night.

This is one of the attributes of Springsteen’s genius: to take a seemingly diffuse set of details and use to them form a singular image. In the case of “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” we have a pensive look back at what used to be, taken through a series of anecdotes connected by place and time. It’s a love letter both to Sandy and to a part of life that’s in the rear view mirror.

This live version is well known to most fans. It was Danny Federici‘s last appearance with Bruce and the band before his passing in 2008. At the time of this show (March 20th, Indianapolis), most of us were thinking that Danny’s treatment was moving him toward health. Instead, he took his place among the cast of E Street characters.

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