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.