4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce 1973

Bruce Springsteen 1973

As a preadolescent, high octane, emotionally fragile youngen, I’m glad I had Bruce Springsteen in my corner. There was a small band of us at school who cherished his music. We felt through his music we could sidestep some of those landmines in middle school. You see, he had already loved and lost. He was someone much older than us and had got out the other end and was telling us stories of what he had seen and learnt growing up. I’m looking forward to seeing the new movie about to hit cinemas called Blinded By the Light which is reflective of what I’m talking about.

4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), the second track from his second studio album The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle released in 1973 is one of my favourite pre-Born to Run songs. Even today when I hear him confess so meekly, ‘Sandy, that waitress I was seeing lost her desire for me‘ floors me every time. As if that wasn’t enough he professes: ‘I spoke with her last night, she said she won’t set herself on fire for me anymore.’ Ouch!

She worked that joint under the boardwalk, she was always the girl you saw bopping down the beach with the radio

The kids say last night she was dressed like a star in one of them cheap little seaside bars, and I saw her parked with lover boy out on the Kokomo

I like how the writer Ariel Swartley interpreted the lyrics: ‘The narrator is something of an “adolescent loser … [who’s] ruining his chances with the girl: he can’t stop telling her about the humiliations, about the girls who led him on, about the waitress that got tired of him.”
I always found it a wistful love ballad set in an irresistibly romantic atmosphere. It evokes such powerful imagery nearly overflowing the senses with a deep and rich tapestry of characters and warm settings. Robert Santelli in his book Greeting from E Street described 4th of July as “the perfect musical study of the Jersey Shore boardwalk culture.”

Interesting trivia about 4th of July (wikipedia):
* Springsteen wanted a children’s choir to sing on it, but they did not show up for the session.
* Van Morrison’s influence can be heard in this song, as “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” closely parallels his romanticization of Belfast
* No singles were released from The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. “Sandy” would, however, along with “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”, become fan favorites from the album.
*The “Madam Marie” mentioned in the song was a real-life fortune teller on the Asbury Park boardwalk named Marie Castello, who died June 27, 2008, aged 93.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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6 comments on “4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) – Bruce Springsteen
  1. badfinger20 says:

    I remember this album in the 80s…I got it right after I had bought Greetings From Ashbury Park. This is a very good song along with the album.

    • I had a friend in school who was the Bruce fan in the know. He had all of his stuff and being the kind soul he was, he passed out his material like it was candy. I have him to thank for getting me into Bruce. I still remember his name – Daniel Olsen. This was probably one of the first songs I heard from Bruce and it always makes me nostalgic when I listen to it.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I heard Bruce’s hits earlier…and a few albums like The River but I really started to listen…really listen with the Greetings album and then this one. Just a master with the words. He took the car from Chuck Berry and turned it into more than a car…freedom…salvation. More than that…he could describe feelings from that age perfectly.

      • I like your description about the car. Yes his depiction of life in those early years was remarkable. You felt like you were growing up with him. He couldn’t really recapture that magic of youth in his writings for obvious reasons, but he did a fine job finding that moody circumspect of middle age in Tunnel of Love. After that of course he got more spiritual and at times evangelical. That’s what older age will do to ya! Haha

      • badfinger20 says:

        He was smart of course…his writing grew as he did and he didn’t continually try to write teenage escape songs…and we followed him on his ride and it’s been a great one.
        He simplified musically and lyrically compared to his first 3 albums.
        You have the opus Thunder Road from Born To Run to the simple but effective rock and roll Cadillac Ranch from The River…but he still gets the message across.

      • Well said! Wow, it’s been some years since I’ve heard Cadillac Ranch. Great song from a great album. Then he hit the ball out of the park finding that quintessential American essence in Born in the USA which made his music a household staple lol I’ve enjoyed this discussion. Plenty more Bruce songs to come and for us to chew over.

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Matthew Kick

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