Springsteen at His Best

I met my wife in New Jersey in the spring of 1973, and one of the first things she did was play me an album by a Jersey kid named Bruce Springsteen. He only had one album at the time, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. — his second album, The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, wasn’t released until September of that year. I was, of course, impressed, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Bruce Springsteen is one of those artists for whom I like their early stuff the best.  Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh are a couple of others that come to mind.  Some artists seem to do their best work when they’re young and hungry.  Springsteen’s Born in the USA album marked his ascent to the top of the music world; for me it’s a line of demarcation — my favorite stuff of his is what came before that.

My all-time #1 concert was when we saw Bruce and the E Street Band at McDonough Arena, Georgetown University (Washington DC) on December 6, 1975.  The show was part of the Born to Run tour (it had been released that summer), and they played songs from the first 3 albums. They were AMAZING.

Three weeks or so prior to that, Bruce and the band played their first-ever show in London, at Hammersmith Odeon on November 18. For those of you up on your Springsteen lore, this was the night he spent some time tearing down ‘Finally London is ready for Bruce Springsteen’ posters before the show. The band was as excellent as I remembered them from the show we saw. There’s some extended jamming like they didn’t do in later years. Ever want to hear an extended solo from Roy Bittan on piano or Bruce on guitar? Check out Kitty’s Back.  The show starts with the acoustic version of Thunder Road, with just Roy on piano and Bruce on harmonica.  When Bruce played at London’s Hyde Park in 2012, he opened with the same song, and introduced it as the first song he ever played in London, referring to this show.

A DVD of this show was included with the 30th anniversary release of Born to Run in 2005, and the concert was then released as an audio CD in 2006.  When I want to listen to some Springsteen, this is usually the one I turn to. I found the video on YouTube, so I include it here for your enjoyment.  It’s a must-see for Springsteen fans, and also for those who want to know what’s the big deal about this guy.

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