Sunday, June 01, 2008

30 Years of 'Darkness'

Bruce Springsteen's fourth studio album, "Darkness on the Edge of Town," turns 30 tomorrow. Though this anniversary isn't met with nearly (or any, really) of the hoopla surrounding its predecessor, "Born to Run," when that classic album reached the same milestone three years ago, "Darkness" remains my favorite Springsteen album.

I'm no Bruce historian, so I won't attempt to delve deeply into what makes this album so incredible—if you're looking for that, just Google-News its name today and I'm sure you'll come up with plenty of reading material from those better qualified to put this record in proper perspective (I wasn't even born yet when it came out, after all). I'll leave my piece at this: When the arguably "weakest" track is the beautifully elegiac "Factory," well, other artists should be so lucky. "Darkness" certainly isn't as accessible as "Born to Run," nor as uplifting, but that's exactly why I've come to love it the best out of all Springsteen's canon. It's darker, less romantic, more real, yet still hopeful in several key spots, most notably two of my all-time favorite tracks: "Badlands" and "The Promised Land." 

In fact, if I were to try and come up with my Springsteen Top 10 list, there might be four songs off "Darkness" that would crack that group ("Candy's Room" and the title track would be the other two, in addition to the dynamic duo mentioned earlier). Every song on this record is very good, and more than half are downright great. 

So if the only Springsteen you've ever heard is "Born to Run" or "Glory Days," do yourself a favor and pick up "Darkness on the Edge of Town." Give it a few spins, and hopefully you'll hear what I'm talkin' about. It must be one of the most underrated rock and roll classics of all time.

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