A searing rock’n’roll masterpiece


Before, there was the rock’n’roll dream, the youth, the grand opera romance of Born to run. And then, on June 2, 1978, there was Darkness on the edge of town. And that was it.

Darkness is where the characters of the first albums ended up, where everybody’s life sooner or later ends up: to the hard truth that life will never be easy, and you’ll not find a way out escaping in a car in the night, or with a romantic dream with your girlfriend. You’ll be scared, you’ll be angry, you’ll probably be alone for most part of it, and you’ll have a hard time tryin’ to figure out what is the meaning of all this. If there’s a meaning, even, and if there isn’t, how can I stand it?

In this album you’ll find the stories of the defeated, the men and women stripped bare of all their possessions and affections: loved ones, homes, works, hopes. But, in most songs, they not have lost their willingness to fight back. And in some lines that stay with every Bruce’s fan for all of his/her life, you learn that no matter how hard or bad things get, you can fight back because you still have your soul, a determination not to go down with a fight, because you want to be happy, it’s your right.

When I have reached low points in my own life, Darkness on the edge of town is an album that I still listen to because it offers more answers and hope than any form of therapy would. It gives me inspiration, a sense of great determination, it makes me company on my road through life.

And, last but not least, they are beautiful songs.



Back to the future

Sempre un po' Antifa

If it would ever become possible for me to buy a Delorean and Dr Emmett Brown’s tuning kit, I know exactly were I would land. Actually, it would be a hard competition between two moments: Passaic Capitol Theatre 21st September 1978, and Winterland Show in San Francisco, 15th December 1978. And if fate would be cruel enough not to let me live the entire show, I’d choose the end of the first set, when the Professor’s piano begins a solo round, and then Bruce enters to sing

I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396 Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor

She’s waiting tonight down in the parking lot Outside the Seven-Eleven store

And they proceed together, just the two of them, until Bruce stops telling how Sonny and him had rebuilt the Chevy, to spend the summer traveling the Jersey shore with no ties and reservations, just racing, and starts with the harmonica.

Here enters the Mighty Max, oddly quite tame, and little by little the music increases, the volume and the rythm grow up, untile the manifesto declaration

Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece Some guys come home from work and wash up And go racin’ in the street

The music turns off, and Bruce gets back to the storytelling with just Roy keeping track: how he won a race, and with the race the heart of the girl too, and how their story changed. But he doesn’t give up, he tries a last race:

For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels

Rumbling through this promised land

Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea,

And wash these sins off our hands

The song doesn’t have a finale, just two red tail lamps disappearing in the summer night, an harmonica piercing sound, the E Street slowly regains possession of the stage with one of the most moving closures of all rock’n’roll history. Danny pounds on the organ accordion, the bass pumps, Roy embroids the piano notes, even the Big Man has a say with a little castanets blow.

The music slows, the escape is maybe at an end… but not, this is not how it must be done.

Roy keeps on playing, a slightly different solo, and Bruce starts telling of a bike ride he took with Stevie, traveling the desert towards Reno. And in the desert he saw this big Geronimo portrait sign, and the sign had some written words below, and those words were:

This is a land of peace, love, justice and no mercy

And on the road sign was written Thunder Road.

Because, you know, how in the world can you start speaking of Bruce Springsteen’s songs and not mention Thunder road?