Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, "Backstreets" (1975)

Share this:

Ah, the masterful end of Born To Run‘s side one. To a lot of younger Bruce fans (you know, the ones who enjoy “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day” guilt-free) the idea of “side one” and “side two” don’t mean a whole lot. To those of us who grew up with vinyl — and I might just be talking about people who still care about albums — the split nature of the medium made the artist think about sequencing in a whole different way. Modern recordings don’t have this built-in break so it’s not necessary to worry about how to end side one.

Was the old way “better”? I don’t know. It sure was different. The combination of parts one and two, plus the inherent length limitation (less than an hour) forced the artist not only to consider the running order but also to be concise. In that respect, I do think that vinyl was better. With most albums playing shy of the 45 minute mark, there wasn’t a lot of room for filler. Many of my favorite classic rock albums — including Steely Dan’s Aja, the Stone’s Some Girls, and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here — are tight, focused collections of songs. Tough to pull off that trick when your album can run to 70 minutes.

So Bruce chose to close out the first half of Born To Run with the sprawling epic letter to Terry, one of loss and regret. The music slowly rises to it’s climax, first on that iconic piano riff, and then on the wall of sound. When I saw Bruce and the band launch into this one in Boston, on a rare night when “Jungleland” also made an appearance, I had that kind of near out-of-body experience that a co-worker used to refer to as “forgetting who he was.” It’s an odd thing, because you’re both “gone” and also instantly remembering every time you’ve ever heard the song.

It was a fitting and powerful end to side one, and perfectly sets the stage for what side two would bring.

Up next: Side Two: “Born To Run”

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B00136RM60″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00136NUMU” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00000255F” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
Share this:
Close