Promise – The Springsteen Documentary

I finally got around to watching The Promise – The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town – a documentary on HBO about the making of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness album.  The footage is priceless for any Boss fan – I can’t get enough of scrawny 1975 Bruce standing around in his Holmdell farmhouse basement jamming with the E Street Band and watching him create the albums that would put him on the map.   The highlight of the documentary was a clip of Bruce and Steve Van Zandt jamming an early version of what would later become Sherry Darling on The River.    Bruce is on piano, and Stevie is playing drums on the padded cover of the studio piano.  At the end, Bruce turns to the camera and and says “The one and only version of this phenomenal song you have captured on tape,”  yet it became a staple on his next album, of course.  Priceless – starting around 1:30 in the embedded vid below:
The other cool thing in the documentary is that it seemed that Bruce frequently wrote music before he wrote songs.  They spend a lot of time talking about Bruce’s massive book of lyrics, but it seemed like he generally used those to fill in missing verses and concepts after the fact, and that it started with the music.  At one time, he describes the process of writing Badlands, where the only lyric he had was “Badlands” at the end of the verse, but he had the music for the verse written in his head.
Another interesting segment is about how Bruce hated the studio sound – where everything was set up so that there was no reverberation or natural sound at all.  As a band who made their mark playing live shows, they couldn’t stand the washed out studio sound, and spent full days just trying to get Max Weinberg’s snare drum to resonate properly.
I could watch clips of 1975 Bruce all day long, and I’d recommend catching this documentary to any Springsteen fan.

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