Springsteen HBO Special on Darkness on the Edge of Town

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Darkness Promo Poster

In 1978, my prized possession was a Darkness on the Edge of Town promo poster

The classic rock marketing season is in full swing, with most major acts saving the big wallop for the fourth quarter. Christmas having a big influence on purchases is one thing about the music business that hasn’t changed in the digital era – music still makes a great gift. As the business has contracted, reissues and deluxe editions have become more and more elaborate, and Bruce Springsteen’s pivotal album “Darkness on the Edge of Town” is getting a deluxe deluxe treatment. Tonight, HBO premiers its special where Springsteen talks about what went into this amazing recording.

I haven’t even looked at the details, despite the fact that this is one of my favorite all-time albums. Part of what made this album so potent is that it doesn’t contain filler. Even the weaker songs are there to provide tone and contrast to the showpieces like “Prove it All Night,” that were 29-year-old Springsteen’s statements of purpose. Next week, Morrison Hotel in New York will be exhibiting Frank Stefanko’s photos as well as more recent pictures from Danny Clinch.

Whereas Born to Run created a commercial success for him, its operatic songs were not well-suited to radio, and part of Jon Landau’s influence was getting Springsteen to focus his writing. At least he did indirectly, because the lawsuit from the former manager Mike Appel which prevented Springsteen from recording so enraged the young Boss, who had already proven to the entire East Coast that he was one of the greatest rock performers of all time, as well as having a top 5 album and making the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week.

When “Darkness” was released, the most immediate impact was visual, as Springsteen had shaven his beard and taken on a more serious look, staring straight into the camera, and the listener’s eyes, for the first time. The typeface was from a broken typewriter, like a policeman might use to fill out a crime report. Three years was a long wait, and anyone who saw Springsteen in 1978 knows the man was on a rampage to take back his place in rock history and make up for lost time.

I saw Bruce Springsteen at the New York Palladium on September 15, 1978. It was the first concert I ever saw, and one of the best too. I would like to thank Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for making a big difference in my life! He represented a local guy, the underdog, the New Yorkers of the 70s… we still have many folks around us carrying that vibe… Springsteen wore a shirt from another blazing New York band that night, The Dictators, on stage. He was an everyman. In subsequent years, the humor would leave his shows and music almost entirely, but at this point, he was one of the guys. The visual of sneakers over a telephone wire was persistent – a neighborhood prank.

I still retain a lot of the swag from that time, including a poster for the album that I begged a record store for, concert shirts, the ticket stub and some incredible memories. It would be impossible to describe in a blog post how much the man and this particular album have meant to me!

1 comment to Springsteen HBO Special on Darkness on the Edge of Town

  • dave pennell

    Saw the boss and the e-street band on New Years Eve, Dec. 31st, 1978 at Richfield Coliseum near Cleveland, Ohio It was one of my best concerts and still is, though it almost ended before it started. Some drunken or stoned fool threw an M-80 firecracker onto the stage during the first song. Bruce was livid, and threatened to walk off if if happened again. The echo was deafening. They got the idiot who did it, hauled him away, and the band went on to ring in the new year with three hours of wall to wall, top to bottom, in your face, Springsteen rock and roll!!