4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) - Bruce Springsteen (1973)
My favorite Bruce Springsteen song has changed quite a few times in my life. When I was a child, it was "Darlington County", a rollicking good time of a number (even if it ends with an arrest!). Then, as I entered my teens, it became "The River", whose presence on Live 75-85 introduced me to the storytelling skills of the Boss with the spoken word intro before it. As I reached College, nothing could touch the Nebraska album, with my favorite being the story of pride in the lower middle class that is "Used Car".In the Aftermath of 9/11 few anthems offered solace like "The Rising". In-between then and now "Mary, Queen Of Arkansas", "Racing In The Streets" and "Jungleland" have all occupied my top spot. Here though, in the last few years, I have become entranced with The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle album. "Rosalita" was always a draw to this overlooked gem, but once you sit with it on the stereo for a few days, you realize that it might just be Bruce's best. One reason for this is resting gently after the easy funk of "The E Street Shuffle" and before the back-to-back classics that are "Kitty's Back" and "Wild Billy's Circus Story" (The latter of which could easily be my number one Springsteen gem tomorrow). "Sandy" captures that time in every one's life where the constraints of your hometown seems to be folding you in two. The Boardwalk will always be a place of Summer dreams, but every year the Summer melts into Fall, and the pier is colder and less inviting. To the sound of the best accordion solo ever recorded in rock and roll, Springsteen paves the way for the anthems that are "Born To Run" and "Thunder Road", but with a subtlety and softness lacking in those tracks. Since Danny Federici's death, it has also become a tribute to the first fallen comrade on E Street, and Bruce plays it now with a wisdom that adds to this monument, instead of taking away from it.
On second thought, this will probably be my favorite Springsteen song for a very long time.