June 2: Bruce Springsteen released Darkness on the Edge of Town in 1978

darkness shoot 2

June 2: Bruce Springsteen released Darkness on the Edge of Town in 1978

It is 36 years since one of the best albums in rock history was released, Darkness On The Edge Of Town is  number 2, (some days it has the top spot) on my list of favorite albums.

Today I think it is the best rock album ever released!

It came out three years after the incredibly successful Born To Run, and three years was an awful long time between albums in the 70s.  Bruce Springsteen had been tied up in a legal battle with his former manager Mike Appel but reached a final settlement in this year-long litigation with Mike Appel on May 28, 1977.

Darkness on the Edge of Town (Houston, 1978):

This meant that for the first time in a long time Bruce Springsteen was allowed into a studio. And he did. The recording of what was to become Darkness On The Edge Of Town began in June 1977 in New York City. He had a lot of material in various state of completion. Many of the songs were written or finished over the course of the sessions. He was in the studio for a long time.

Adam Raised a Cain (Paramount Theatre, 2009):

The material that didn’t make the album seeped out on a lot bootlegs through the years, it is of an incredibly high quality both sound wise and artistic. in 2010 we finally got a Darkness box that in many ways ended the need for Darkness bootlegs . There must still be a few unreleased gems in the vault, as of 2011, only 33 of more than 70 songs have been officially released.

darkness box

It consisted of 6 discs with the following content:

1: Darkness On The Edge Of Town (remastered )
2. Darkness on the Edge of Town (Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ, 2009)
3:Thrill Hill Vault (1976-1978) + Houston ’78 Bootleg: House Cut
4 and 5: The Promise (double album with outtakes and alternative takes)
6: The Promise: The Making of “Darkness on the Edge of Town”

In effect the most impressive and best box-set ever compiled.


This is what the Darkness On The Edge Of Town could/should have been.
Me? I’m glad it didn’t. I really like  the Promise album and in many ways it’s as good as Darkness, but I love Darkness and the ominous feel of the album that we got. I think Springsteen made the right decision when he decided to not release The Promise in 1978, it was too bright a side of the darkness. That said, The Promise gives us a better understanding of the Darkness sessions.

The Promise (interview) part 1:

The Promise (interview) part 2:

The recording sessions for Darkness On The Edge Of Town were finished early January 1978. The mixing began in January 1978 and lasted on until late March. There was a lot(!) of different mixes considered, with Springsteen changing his mind on the mix of songs as late as early April.

 Occasionally, a record appears that changes fundamentally the way we hear rock & roll, the way it’s recorded, the way it’s played. Such records — Jimi Hendrix’ Are You Experienced, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Who’s Next, The Band — force response, both from the musical community and the audience. To me, these are the records justifiably called classics, and I have no doubt that Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town will someday fit as naturally within that list as the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” or Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music.”

– Dave Marsh (Rolling Stone Magazine, 1978)

My favorite Springsteen song, Racing In The Street,  at Capital Centre in Landover MD 1978:

Finally here is the best album you are going to hear today, Darkness On The Edge Of Town:

darkness cover

– Hallgeir

7 thoughts on “June 2: Bruce Springsteen released Darkness on the Edge of Town in 1978”

  1. Hallgeir,

    Thank you for your continued excellence of your blog. Springsteen is probably my favorite artist so this particular post was especially rewarding. Racing in the street is one of the greatest songs ever written & when performed in concert is as moving any artist can achieve in the idiom of rock or pop music. I would also say the same thing about Promised Land when performed solo acoustic. I’ve never experienced any artist with any other song that is has the same emotional impact.

    I could not disagree more with the previous post comparing Bruce to a commentator. Bruce’s songs in general, & especially so with the Darkness album, have a “life” (i.e. they are filled with emotional resonance) to them and are as far from “commentary” as we are the most remote part of the galaxy.

    By the way I’m also a huge Dylan fan and have seen Dylan in concert in excess of a 100 times in the last 28 years.

    We’re both (along with all the others that appreciate rock music as more than simple entertainment) very fortunate to have lived in the same period as Dylan & Springsteen so that we can have the sheer pleasure of taking in the art these two masters have provided to the world in both their studio records & live performances.

    Once again, thanks for the great work & I hope you can keep it up.


    Midwest USA

    1. Thank you, it is so nice to see that we can reach readers across borders, both musically and geographically. We have common references even if we live in remote distances.

      ..I’m rambelin…

      Thanks for you comment and thanks for the praise, always appreciated!

      – Hallgeir

  2. Love your blog, so lets stir things up a little !
    I just cant let statements like “best rock album ever released’ and ‘best box set ever compiled’ pass me by !

    First of all, I like Springsteen’s music – no doubt he is a very good songwriter …. BUT …. and it took me a long time to work out why there was a “but” ….

    I used to listen to Springsteen albums, enjoy them at the time and then always feel a little unsatisfied immediately afterwards (a bit like eating Chinese food, for me) … it is only recently that I have been able to put my finger on why that was/is ….

    I find his work to lack authenticity. He is a great ‘commentator’ on America and the American way of life / dream … but that is all it ultimately is … a commentary.
    One of the things that separates Dylan from writers like Springsteen is that he is really IN his writing.

    When Springsteen writes about ‘racing in the street’ or ‘working on the highway’, I can almost see him looking out of his window making notes and then writing about other people’s experience. No doubt, he brings it to life amazingly well, but its still a story, and I get to watch that story unfold with the songwriter sitting by my side.

    Then Dylan writes a song about marriage (Isis) or being attacked by critics (Ballad Of A Thin Man etc) or breaking up (Where are You Tonight ?) or … (the list is endless) and I can feel him inside the song, looking out, and dragging me inside too. That is why I have an emotional response to Dylan’s songs that I simply do not have to Springsteen songs: experience trumps observation.

    Of course, Dylan has written his share of clunkers, but there is no comparison, to my mind, between Dylan at his best and Springsteen at his best.

    That’s why I am going to stick with H61R as “the best rock album ever released” and “The Bootleg Series” (pick a volume) as the best box set ever compiled”.

    1. It’s hard to give good arguments for these things, but let me try…

      If you compare a minor song like Working on the highway with any of Dylan’s major works (or minor) it will fall flat.

      But Racing in the street is a masterpiece and so much more than a simple commentary. I live on the western part of Norway, and that song is about me, about my friends and about our life. The cars, the beaches, the girls and our longing to get out, to live another life.

      It also a deeply personal song for Springsteen, his words are his experiences and his story, there are no lies in that story. He doesn’t sit “on the outside” and comment, he has lived that life. Just as Bob Dylan has lived the words of some of his songs.

      When Bruce Springsteen writes about his divorce on the Tunnel of Love album, for me, he is just as true as Dylan is on Blood on the tracks. They sing about their own hard experiences with bitter separation and love lost.

      How hard those words hit you, depends on a lot of things. I guess I was at the right age when Bruce Springsteen emerged.

      I am not saying that Springsteen is better or more important than Bob Dylan, he is not, but to reduce him to a mere commentator feels wrong.

      You did stir me up 🙂 …but I needed that, thanks for interesting comments!

      – Hallgeir

      1. If I stirred you up a bit, then I did my job ! 🙂

        Of course, Im not expecting to change your (or anyone else’s) opinion by sharing mine – it is just fun to swap some different points of view online !

        I remember posting something about why 1979 was the best year for rock music a while back and we agreed (!) that its all to do with your own starting point. It is the same thing at work here, I think … You say “I was at the right age when Springsteen emerged” …

        The first Springsteen I came across was “Born in the USA” … when everyone told me “if you like Dylan, then you will love this guy …” I remember being very unimpressed with that album – it just felt fake/manufactured from start to finish (with the possible exception of “My Hometown”). I remember thinking: “this guy got his muscles from a gym, not working on the highway !”

        After that I did go back and listen to Born To Run / Darkness … etc … and while I do like some of that stuff, I never did manage to shake that first impression. (Tunnel of Love is not in the same class as Blood on the Tracks in my book)

        When Dylan sings:

        “If you don’t believe there’s a price for this sweet paradise,
        Remind me to show you the scars”

        it sends shivers down my spine, in a way no other songwriter can match …

        Still, at the end of the day, its all bloody good music and this is a great blog. Just dont get me started on The Beatles …

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