Springsteen Blinded1974 copy 6

“blinded by the light” off and on the pop charts (was bruce springsteen ever blinded by the light? – part 3)

UNLESS YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH to have been there THEN (the early months of 1973) but weren’t paying at­ten­tion or you were not a Spring­steen fan (and who was back then out­side of a small circle of friends near As­bury Park?) or not a fan now (and who isn’t?), then you know that Spring­steen’s “Blinded By The Light” single did not make the charts here there and every­where.

In fact, Bruce did not find his way onto any na­tional survey until late 1975, when Born To Run reached #17 on Cash Box and #23 on Bill­board.

In the wake of Bruce’s suc­cesses of 1975-76 as an album and con­cert artist, he had his biggest im­pact on the charts as a song­writer. His biggest pop suc­cess came from an un­likely source with un­likely ma­te­rial: Man­fred Mann, ever ready to pick up on a good thing, recorded a ver­sion Blinded By The Light.

It was a far more com­pli­cated arrange­ment and pro­duc­tion and a re­working of the song’s verse and cho­ruses struc­ture. Whereas Spring­steen’s lyrics were laid out rather sim­plis­ti­cally:

verse/verse/chorus
verse/chorus
verse/verse/verse/chorus/coda

At least, this is the best that I can make it out; you may break it up into more verses but the basic struc­ture would re­main the same. The Mann’s ver­sion was a re­working of the orig­inal. For the sake of com­par­ison, in the first part of this essay I as­signed num­bers to the verses and cho­ruses in the orig­inal lyrics.

The break­down of the verses was based on how they were used in the Mann arrange­ment. I did this simply to il­lus­trate the work that went into Mann’s ver­sion, that it was not a note-for-note/word-for-word take on the orig­inal. Also, those few words in bold print were ei­ther dropped from the Man­fred’s ver­sion or al­tered …

chorus/verse
chorus/verse
chorus/chorus/verse
chorus/verse/verse/verse/coda


Blinded by the Light ~ Man­fred Mann’s Earth Band with lyrics

©

Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.
Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.
Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.

(V1)

Madman drum­mers, bum­mers, In­dians in the summer with a teenage diplomat.
In
the dumps with the mumps as the ado­les­cent pumps his way into his hat.
With a boulder on my shoulder, feeling kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round.
With this very un­pleasing sneezing and wheezing, the cal­liope crashed to the ground.

The cal­liope crashed to the ground.

©

Cause she was blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.
Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.
Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.
Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night. 

(V5)

Some sil­i­cone sister with her man­ager, mister,told me I got what it takes.
She said, “I’ll turn you on, sonny, to some­thing strong if you play that song with the funky break.”
And Go-cart Mozart was checking out the weather chart to see if it was safe
to go out­side.
And little Early Pearly came in by
his curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride.
Asked me if I needed a ride. 

(C1)

Cause she was blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.
Blinded by the light.
She got down but she never got tired, she’s gonna make it through the night.
She’s gonna make it through the night.

(C3)

Mama al­ways told me not to look into the eye of the sun, but mama, that’s where the fun is.
But mama, that’s where the fun is.
Mama al­ways told me not to look into the eyes of the sun—but mama, that’s where the fun is.

(V4)

Some brim­stone, bari­tone, anti-cyclone, rolling stone preacher from the east.
He says, “De­throne the dic­ta­phone, hit it in its funny-bone, that’s where they ex­pect it least.”
And some new-mown chap­erone was standing in the corner
all alone watching the young girls dance.
And some fresh-sown moon­stone was messing with his frozen zone to re­mind him
of the feeling of ro­mance.

©

The cal­liope crashed to the ground.
Cause she was blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.
Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, an­other runner in the night.

(V1)

Madman drum­mers, bum­mers, In­dians in the summer with a teenage diplomat.
In the dumps with the mumps as the ado­les­cent pumps his way into his hat.
With a boulder on my shoulder, feeling kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round.
With this very un­pleasing sneezing and wheezing, the cal­liope crashed to the ground.

(V3)

And now young Scott with a sling­shot fi­nally found a tender spot and throws his lover in the sand.
And some blood­shot forget-me-not whis­pers, “Dad­dy’s within earshot, save the buck­shot, turn up the band.”

(V5)

Some sil­i­cone sister with a man­ager, mister, told me I go what it takes.
She said “I’ll turn you on, sonny, to some­thing strong …”
She got down but she never got tired, she’s gonna make it through the night.

It was also two min­utes longer than the orig­inal, which was more than five min­utes long. An abridged ver­sion was re­leased as a single in the summer of 1976, the re­sponse to this ver­sion was quite dif­ferent from the orig­inal.


Man­fred Mann - Blinded by the Light

Absolute repetitive gibberish

I have been a Mann fan since the ’60s, in­cluding most of the var­ious per­mu­ta­tions of his band. But this one, Man­fred Mann’s Earth Band (what­ever that means), left me cold. While it would have been groovy if Mann and band had du­pli­cated the loopy joy of Quinn The Es­kimo (Mighty Quinn), such was not the case.

Their reading of the Spring­steen song was tech­ni­cally perfect—in its full Sev­en­ties overblown production/engineering regalia—and emo­tion­ally vapid. I found the recording and its ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence end­lessly an­noying. As one com­menter ob­served: “The most an­noying song ever written. Ab­solute repet­i­tive gib­berish.” (Josh)

Need­less to say, it found its way to #1 for one week on both Bill­board and Cash Box in early 1977. Hell’s Belles, it won’t even go away from to­day’s oldies sta­tions! (Now, fatu­ously called “classic rock.”)

In one of the Sev­en­ties’ fun­nier recorded mo­ments, due to ei­ther the lead singer’s (mis)pronunciation or a glitch in the recording, an “sss” sound was turned into a “shh” sound and count­less lis­teners heard the fol­lowing lyrics: “wrapped up like a douche an­other rubber in the night.” Surely this must rank with the classic Six­ties’ mis­hearing of “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy …”

Springsteen-as-tunesmith en­joyed more suc­cess: in 1978, Patti Smith reached #10 on Cash Box and #17 on Bill­board with her melo­dra­matic reading of Be­cause The Night, of which she was co-writer. This was fol­lowed in 1979 by the Pointer Sis­ters reaching #2 on both sur­veys with sen­sual take on Fire.

The Boss would go on to reach Bill­board’s Top 10 eleven times in the ’80s, al­though he would never top that chart’s Hot 100. On Cash Box, Dancing In The Dark would be #1 on the Top 100 for two weeks, his sole chart-topper on a na­tional survey.

 


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