Bruce Springsteen
Darkness on the Edge of Town



by JohnXDoesn't USER (97 Reviews)
August 5th, 2005 | 48 replies

Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Bruce Springsteen's fourth album and considered among his best, represents a change of direction for the songwriter as well as a change of artistic perspective when it comes to his relationship with his audience and his way of communicating his ideas through his words and music. Written for the most part during a rare time of inactivity for Bruce, as a legal suit brought by his former manager prevented him from not only releasing another album but also from recording , Springsteen found himself at a crossroads. Holed up in a New York hotel room after having spent many of his previous years on the road or making records, Bruce suddenly found himself at loose ends with nowhere to go but down. His music on hold, his work taken from him by a shady manager, and having no real place to call home, Springsteen found that perhaps life was not the dream he imagined it would be. Alone, living out of a room, unable to work, and seeing very little financial gain from his huge success not long before, he did the only thing he could do. He wrote songs. And the songs which were born out of this uncertain time were no longer of the sort of someone yearning to dream and live and run, as many of his songs had been about in the past. But instead they were songs of dreams failing, life stalling, and the road ending. Instead of looking ahead as he had done in his previous work, he simply took a hard cold look at where he was at. And the results are nothing short of spectacular.

The songs on Darkness On The Edge Of Town, which came from this period of personal darkness for Mr. Springsteen, stand in somewhat stark contrast to where he had been with his songwriting before. The hope a pretty girl, a fast car and The Jersey Shore used to bring, however fleeting, has been washed away on Darkness as things that simply didn't workou,t and which held little value or use to begin with. In the place of those things are people who chased their dreams and found them broken or nonexistent when their feet finally hit the ground. So they took up desperate hope, a bit of faith, and dead end jobs or worse just as a means to survive another day. Often times to mixed results, at best.

The album kicks off with the anthemic fist pumping rocker Badlands, and it is clear from the start this is a place far from the pleasures of the Jersey Shore and asking Rosalita to come out for a night of partying and good times. In this song Springsteen's subject finds "trouble in the heartland" and is "caught in a crossfire" he doesn't understand. Running on a bit of hope and a feeling " it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive," it's a desperate song of simple desires and the struggle of people spending their lives "waiting for a moment that just don't come". This theme of broken hearts and broken people struggling to continue life with some kind of dignity, faith, and love in spite of theie losing ways in life dominate the entire album, and to great effect and reward for the listener.

Musically, The E Street Band is up to the task at hand and never let things get too heavy or bogged down, despite the darker subject matter. On Candy's Room, a sad tale of a man infatuated with a hooker and who will give "all that I've got to give" to make her his if just for a night, the band plows ahead like a freight train, never letting the tradgedy of the song hit too hard, but keeping things wound tight enough to convey the lonliness and frustration of the people involved. And on more hopeful tracks such as The Promised Land and Prove It All Night, the band goes along for the ride with just the right amount of flair and steadiness to deliver the songwriters vision with crystal clear clarity. Stripped down, no nonsense, more direct, and with less clutter and more sharpness in the mix then on previous albums, this is The E Street Band at there leanest, meanest, and most effective to date. And they pull the whole thing off in good rockin' fashion.

The standout tracks on this record come midway through and at the very end of the album. Racing In The Streets, a song about accepting your lot in life and somehow making the best of it, is the most thoughtful balled Springsteen had written to date and paints a vivid picture of a man and woman carrying on in the face of lost dreams and a life wanted that never had a chance to exist for them in the first place. So they just go ahead and do what they have always done, however boring, mundane, or useless. The only other alternative seeming to be "given up livin" altogether. But it's the album closer and title track that brings the whole album home and lays it all to rest. The journey of this album does not end in the shreds of hope and faith and love and simple work that somehow sustained the lives of those struggling in the songs that came before, but it indeed ends right where the title of the album suggests. And it is one of the more powerful tales of loss, desolation, and despair that Springsteen has ever written.

Coming three years after his breakthrough album Born To Run, which simultaneously found his face on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines hailed as the future of Rock n Roll, Darkness On The Edge Of Town is the first album that Springsteen set out to make that he had real time to contemplate. Whereas his creative vision was clear and well defined on his first three albums with his locales and cast of characters set within the confines of the familiar New Jersey of his youth, Darkness On The Edge Of Town finds it's subjects adrift in an often threatening world of broken dreams, broken lives, and dead end jobs that offer you a chance to survive at best. If that. No longer "Born To Run," on Darkness the dreaming stops and real life starts to set in. And it's this album that would give voice to Springsteens lyrics, music, and creativity for the decade to come and beyond. Number 151 on Rolling Stones top 500 albums of all time, Darkness On The Edge Of Town is the sound of an artist finding his own true voice and putting it to the best use that he can. Unflinching, uncomprimising, hard, cold, and perhaps most of all compassionate, it is a work well deserving of it's place among Rock n Roll's very best.

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user ratings (605)
other reviews of this album
AugustWest1990 (4.5)

zoostation123 (5)
For me, this is the Boss's best album. It's one of the most heart-wrenching and passionate albums I'...

bob0716 (5)
A truly brilliant album, one that earns it's place in rock n' roll history....

Rawmeeth38 (5)
Gotta get out before it's too late...

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 5th 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

This is my second review and any constuctive comments or criticisms would be appreciated. Hope you enjoyed it. Or at least read it! This Message Edited On 08.05.05

August 5th 2005


Wow. Great work.

This was also included in Word magazine's Most Overlooked Albums Of All Time. Which I found a little odd given the RS placing, but there ya go.

August 5th 2005


Very good review. No less than I'd expect, but still, really nice work. This is a Springsteen album that I don't have, even though I'm a great fan of his, but I'll check it out.

August 5th 2005


You'll be top 15 in no time, especially if you keep up with the wonderful reviews

August 5th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Great review. I love this album. Springsteen's best IMO. My parents are huge Bruce Springsteen fans, and have like 10 albums of his, so I grew up with him. This one has always been my favorite. My favorite songs are Racing In the Streets and Candy's Room. Racing in the Streets especially, that song is just perfect.

August 6th 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It's very encouraging as I am still finding my way through this whole process. It certainly is an enjoyable way to contribute to the MX community. I'm already looking forward to what's next. Whatever that may be : )

November 5th 2005


You really need to start writing reviews again. Yours have been excellent, and it's kind of annoying seeing as you've only written four or so. You could do so much more. Then again, I doubt that you even come on here as much as you do on the forums, JohnXDoe.

November 5th 2005


great detailed review. i dont know ive always been more of a john mellancamp guy that springfield.

April 6th 2009


"Baby I got my facts learned real good right now, you better get it straight darling - poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king ain't satisfied 'til he rules everything..."

February 24th 2010


"Prove It All Night" > You.

September 18th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

Springsteen's best, especially lyrically.

And it seems appropriate that this album is on the 'Most Overlooked Albums' list, 'cause most people either remember Born To Run, Born In The USA or The River...

October 16th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

Springsteen's best, especially lyrically.[2]

And seeing how this has one review and not even a full site of comments, I can see how this is somewhat overlooked.

Review is top notch by the way and I agree that the Closer might be the best song on the album(maybe the best he has written period)

October 19th 2011


I disagree with it being his best, but it certainly is springsteen in a nutshell, it's good.

November 4th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

album is so god damn good. 182 ratings, that's blasphemy. Sputnik doesn't even get Bruce

May 6th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

this is such an awesome album, gotta love the boss

July 12th 2012


Sputnik needs more Bruce.

July 12th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5


July 22nd 2012


There is at least one song on this album that one can relate to somehow, no matter who you are. The lyrics are some of the best ever written, no doubt about that.

December 20th 2012



February 1st 2013


Album Rating: 4.0


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