Bruce Springsteen: “Spirit In the Night”

MAY 1973 (39 YEARS AGO)
Bruce Springsteen: “Spirit In the Night” b/w “For You” (Columbia 4-45864) 45 single is released in the US.
“Spirit in the Night” is a song written and originally recorded by New Jersey based singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen for his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973). It was also the second single released from the album. A cover version performed by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was released on the album Nightingales and Bombers and as a Top 40 single.
The original version of “Spirit in the Night” was released on Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.. It was one of the last songs to be written and recorded for Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Springsteen had recorded 10 other tracks for the album, but Clive Davis, president of the record label that was releasing the album, was concerned that the recorded tracks did not have enough commercial appeal. As a result, Springsteen quickly wrote and recorded two additional songs: “Spirit in the Night” and “Blinded by the Light”. Because these songs were added so late in the recording process, several of Springsteen’s band members were unavailable to record these two songs. As a result, the recording lineup for “Spirit in the Night” was limited to Vini Lopez on drums, Clarence Clemons on saxophone, and Springsteen himself playing all other instruments. Although “Spirit in the Night” was one of the last songs written for the album, it did grow out of an earlier version of the song that Springsteen had played live prior to receiving his recording contract.
Although most of the songs on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. were packed with lyrics to the extent that sometimes they overwhelm the musical arrangements, “Spirit in the Night” has been described as the one song on the album on which the music and narrative fit together. Clemons’ sax playing and Lopez’ drumming match the freedom and ebullience described in the lyrics. The lyrics themselves describe a group of teenagers — Wild Billy, Hazy Davy, Crazy Janey, Killer Joe, and G-Man — going to a spot called “Greasy Lake” near “Route 88” for a night of freedom, sex, and drinking. But although their escape to the freedom of Greasy Lake is short lived, the emphasis is on the friends’ togetherness.

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Filed under 1973, Blinded by the Light, Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Clive Davis, Greetings from Asbury Park, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, N.J., Spirit In the Night

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