Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bruce Springsteen - Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

Bruce Springsteen – Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
Columbia, 1973
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2012
Price: $1.50

 So this guy has been bringing his record collection into HPB St. Paul like every other day and holy shit, all us record geeks (which is most of us, come to think of it) have been like kids in a candy store going through all this stuff. Whole runs of the Boss, Dylan, Gram Parsons, Townes van Zandt, the Fugs, the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, etc, etc, etc. And it’s all in fantastic shape. A dream record buy that just keeps going. So anyway, I’ve been using this as an opportunity to fill in the gaps in my record collection (and of course snag some fantastic records I thought I’d never, ever see i.e. Grievous Angel, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and every John Prine album). I’ve only recently come around to Bruce Springsteen. I kind of had a longstanding hatred with Born to Run and then a couple of years ago (dovetailing nicely with my adoration of the Hold Steady) really came around. Not to Born to Run, but to Tunnel of Love and Nebraska. The songwriting on those albums is Bruce at his purest and most vulnerable and something clicked and there you go.

I’ve never listened to Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Not once. The only song I’m even familiar with is “Blinded by the Light” and that’s only the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band version. I think that’s for the best, because coming to the Boss’ debut LP with fresh ears is so exciting I’m giddy. Mostly because of how longwinded he is with his lyrics sheet. The Hold Steady are often compared to the Springsteen, and this is the album where I really, truly see that comparison in all its glory. At the same time you can see Bruce Springsteen very much influenced by Bob Dylan. The thing that keeps Springsteen from being a mere imitator though is that he is just much, much cooler than Bob Dylan. Sure Dylan was cool in the 60s, but not at all the same kind of cool that Springsteen embodies. There’s so much spirit here and so much charm it’s kind of impossible to turn up your nose. Or I suppose you could but come ON how could anyone actively hate an album that’s just so wide-eyed and pure of heart?

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