Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, "Badlands" (1978)

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There was a time when Bruce intended to release “Badlands” with no saxophone solo. It’s kind of hard to imagine, much like it’s hard to erase all of that history: all of those spins of the album and those devastating moments when Clarence stepped up to the mic. Thankfully, Bruce made the right decision.

Born To Run might have been the first Springsteen record I listened to, but Darkness was the first one I “got.” Perhaps more accurately, it got me. There was just something about the focus and the drive, both of which are displayed in microcosm during the album’s first few seconds. Max’s tight drum introduction leads right into that ascendant guitar & piano riff. Liftoff is officially achieved with the sequence of Bruce’s guitar solo followed by Clarence’s sax blast.

When the song was featured as the show opener during the Working On A Dream Tour, I was glad to re-live those bits of pure musical bliss. The E Street Band tore into the song, with the spit flying from Bruce as those words of desperation came tumbling out. His guitar solo, as tangled as it was, reminded me of why he’s one of my favorite guitar players. And, thank goodness, there was indeed a sax solo.

Up next: Adam Raised A Cain

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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
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