Friday, October 2, 2009

Bathed in the Light of the Darkness

Nice feeling this morning. Apparently, after one unsuccessful effort I was able to remove the piano from my back on my neighborhood jaunt. Following Wednesday's run, which took me a few seconds longer to complete than Monday's run at the same distance, I started to wonder a bit just what the hell was going on. This morning, I covered the 5K course I created in my neighborhood in 29:11. I realize that for serious runners - and the millions of folks in better shape than yours truly - that still is something akin to a time they would hit if they covered the distance while walking on their hands and backwards. However, from my selfish perspective a time that nets out to sub-ten minute miles from start to finish is quite satisfying.

This evening is Round One of Springsteen and the E Streeters for the Missus and me at Giants Stadium - a slightly less intimate setting than where we spent last Friday night enjoying James McMurtry's performance. Tonight is the show - among the five that Springsteen shall play during his final go-round at Giants Stadium, which started with the September 30 show and shall wrap with the October 9 one, at which he/the band shall include a full album performance of Darkness on the Edge of Town.

I think that this album has been my favorite from Springsteen's catalog of music since about eleven seconds or so after I first heard it thirty years ago or so. I suppose the chic pick among my fellow Bruce fanatics for favorite album is Born to Run. Candidly, it too is an excellent record and it is not an exaggeration to suggest that without it, Darkness may never have been recorded. While one follows the other chronologically, there is separation between them in terms of their release dates of approximately three years. While that may not seem extraordinary in retrospect, consider that upon being signed to Columbia Springsteen cranked out three albums in roughly the same amount of time, including the Irish twins of Greetings from Asbury Park and The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, which arrived less than one year apart. The explosion upon the public consciousness that Born to Run represented came with more than a fair share of attendant problems - not the least of which was the lawsuit in which Springsteen became embroiled with Mike Appel, who had been his manager, concerning ownership of Springsteen's music.

As the litigation raged, Springsteen did not record a follow-up to Born to Run. Instead he and the boys in the band toured incessantly. As someone who has had the pleasure of listening to a number of "audience created recordings" from what became known as "the Chicken Scratch Tour" I assure you that the time on the road was well-spent. The performances were phenomenal. Thus, when the lawsuit finally was resolved and Appel and Springsteen parted ways for good, Darkness was the first album he released. The somewhat naive (at times at least) narrators and characters from Born To Run were gone. They were replaced by folks who had seen quite a bit of the dark side of life and of humanity and been scarred - some permanently so - by the experience.

It is I think the tone of the entire record that has always attracted me to the Darkness album. It is a tone that I think was fairly accurately captured in a song he released almost twenty-five years later: There ain't no storybook story/There's no never-ending song/Our happily ever after Darlin'/Forever come and gone.

Miracles are in short supply on Darkness on the Edge of Town but that does not mean that happiness is out of reach. It simply means that we have to be willing to work for it - and not simply stand around hoping for it to happen. Happiness costs. If you want it, you have to be willing to pay for it.

Tonight in the swamps of Jersey, where I presume that the chill of an early October will keep those legendary airplane-sized mosquitoes grounded. Tonight I shall be easily found, paying a reasonable price for a bit of happiness. There, in the company of my best girl and some good friends. There is something in the night indeed.

-AK

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