As a kid I remember my mom driving me to school/camp/babysitters and together we'd listen along to her cassette tapes of Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Elton John and The Rolling Stones. I recall being genuinely proud of myself when I started to learn the songs well enough to sing along with her. Of course I got older, discovered mainstream radio, and in turn rejected some of the classic rock that defined my childhood.
Six years ago I was living in Philly and solidified a life-long friendship with The DiMedio's, a classic Philadelphia (via South Jersey) couple. My family is North Jersey to a T, so when they waxed philosophic on the intricate layers of Springsteen's body of work, it struck a chord of nostalgia. One afternoon at their apartment, I found myself hypnotized as we watched Springsteen's 1975 performance with the E Street Band at London's Hammersmith Odeon. Bruce was just a kid: skinny and disheveled under a big mop of curly hair. His performance is relentless and meticulous. He hams it up pal-ing out with Stevie and Clarence and incorporates theatrical accents on "Lost In The Flood" and "Jungleland." Bruce was fresh on the scene and turning heads with Born To Run and the 30th Anniversary Edition of Born To Run provided a glimpse of the young blue-collar hero from Jersey. I fell in love.
Tonight's HBO debut of "The Promise: The Making of Darkness On The Edge of Town" will be an epic retelling of Bruce and The E Street-er's struggle to strike gold again in 1977, following the success of Born To Run. The documentary mixes 30 year old backstage footage with recent interviews revealing the madness behind the man and insight to the careful balance between passion and endurance that we recognize as The Boss.
Springsteen's "The Promise," is the namesake for the documentary though the track, like many others, never made the final cut for the album due to the obsessive re-working the film focuses on.