23 September 2010

This Date In Rock History: 23 September

Happy birthday to The Boss.

On this date in 1949, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen is born to parents Adele and Douglas Springsteen at a hospital in Long Branch, New Jersey.
To celebrate, TNOP is bringing you video of one of the most heart-stopping live performances in rock and roll history. Hyperbole? We think not. This performance of what came to be known as the "Detroit Medley" is culled from a concert in Landover, Maryland on 24 November 1980. A year earlier, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band had introduced this mash-up to the masses at the "No Nukes" all-star concert at Madison Square Garden; the soundtrack, released in 1980, included the medley and quickly became an FM radio staple.

But this particular take finds Bruce and his mates in thrilling form, stretching out even further and taking the listener on a virtual tour of the roots of rock and roll, touching on many of the influences that Springsteen has openly bowed to over the years.

The take-off point is Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels' "Devil With A Blue Dress," a blue-eyed soul stomper that, coupled with Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly," shot to #4 in the US in 1966. Sandwiched between is "C. C. Rider," a song with roots as far back as Ma Rainey in the 1920s; it was most notably a hit for Chuck Willis and served as the opening number for Elvis Presley at his shows for many years. "Jenny Take A Ride!" makes an appearance as well, which Ryder also took into the Top 10, welding together "C. C. Rider" with Little Richard's "Jenny, Jenny." And finally there's the surprise inclusion of "Lonesome Train," a Johnny Burnette rockabilly chestnut that then evolves into a travelogue litany of American cities, a la James Brown's "Night Train."

So a tip of the hat to Mr. Springsteen on his 61st birthday, not only for his individual contributions to popular music, but for keeping the history of rock and roll alive and well through another couple of generations.

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