By the beginning of 1972 Bruce Springsteen had been playing music for six years in a variety of New Jersey based bands but had not yet landed a recording contract with a major label. In 1972, after auditioning for John Hammond at Columbia Records, he was finally signed to a recording contract. Unfortunately, that same John Hammond had signed Bob Dylan to Columbia ten years earlier and this fact triggered the inevitable comparisons between Bruce and Bob. As I noted in a post from last year (Just A Story From America), Dylan comparisons are normally the fastest way to kill a musician’s career. That Just a Story From America post focused on Elliott Murphy, a very talented contemporary of Bruce, whose career was destroyed by similar Dylan comparisons.
So….Bruce finally had his recording contract and it was now time to produce an album to justify the confidence that John Hammond had shown in him. His album, titled Greetings From Asbury Park, was released on January 5, 1973. On the positive side, Bruce had assembled a kick ass band that would soon be referred to as the E Street Band. On the negative side, the songs on the album did little to refute the Dylan comparisons. The very wordy first track, Blinded by the Light, screamed Bob Dylan and this served to only increase the dreaded Dylan comparisons.
The album was overlooked by most people in 1973 and only sold 25,000 copies. Even so, the album provided some glimpses of the Bruce that we all would come to love in just a couple of years. Let’s listen to Growin’ Up, the second track from the album…..
While this is a clever well written song that shows that Bruce would be a force to be reckoned with, I have to say that listening to this studio version doesn’t reach out, grab you, and make you an instant fan! My point here is that Bruce we know and love is not just a great songwriter he is an incredible performer and in 1973 most of the world had not seen this side of Bruce. It was performer side of Bruce, when combined with Bruce the songwriter, that would propel his career beyond the Dylan comparisons and launch it into the stratosphere. Don’t believe me??? Listen to this live version of Growin’ Up from 1975 where Bruce, the performer/storyteller/songwriter elevates this same song into an amazing event…..
Forty Years Ago Today, with the release of Greetings From Asbury Park, the world had no idea of what Bruce Springsteen would soon become. I was there in 1973 and saw the whole process as it happen and I guess that should make me feel like an old man. Having just listened to that performance of Growin’ Up, right this minute I feel exactly like did back in 1973 and that is the best example that I can give of the power of Bruce Springsteen the performer.