Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Songs of '78: "Badlands"

I didn't situate what is one of Bruce Springsteen's greatest songs with my memories of 1978--in fact, I almost certainly didn't even know it was a Springsteen song--until nearly a decade after it was released. I'd heard "Badlands" occasionally on the radio, and thought it was a cool and strong rock and roll tune, but I didn't have the language or musical knowledge to appreciate it beyond that, certainly not enough to want to track down the musician behind it, especially when I heard it so rarely (it wasn't much of a hit). Once Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. album became a massive pop juggernaut six years later, we all became fans, of course--but still, it wasn't until a few years after that, when he released the moody, folky, brilliant Tunnel of Love (another one of those wonderful albums of 1987 which I still listen to today) that I became a real, dedicated listener to the Boss. And that meant going back and listening to Darkness on the Edge of Town, as well as much else he wrote, which was a fun, surprising journey of discovery all its own. (Wait, Bruce wrote the Manfred Mann song "Blinded By the Light"? And the Patti Smith song "Because the Night" (which I've already paid tribute to as part of the class 1978 here)? And the Pointer Sisters song "Fire"(which, don't worry, will get it's 1978 tribute soon)? Plus he wrote "Hungry Heart" for The Ramones but then stole it back? Etc., etc., etc.)

Anyway, point it, nearly a decade after the song entered my consciousness, "Badlands"--probably the closest Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band ever came to punk rock--found its home in my oft-reconstructed memories of that important radio year, 1978, and became a belated part of my appreciation of this wonderful pop and rock artist. It's not my favorite Springsteen tune by a long-shot, but this song, the lead single off Darkness, released 40 years ago this month, is pretty awesome all the same.

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