Column

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

They Blew Up the Chicken Man

Artist Bruce Springsteen
Other tags Atlantic City

Thanks Easy. There are many versions of this great song. Here's another:

 

I missed that one. Should mention that I really think Grace Potter crushes it too but there wasn't a good produced clip to share. Jason Isbell also does it and it's on his Record Store Day covers EP. 

Springsteen's most powerful album for sure. As a young punk rocker this album nearly gave me whiplash when I first heard it. I still listen to it fairly regular and it never gets tiresome. 

I think Bruce and I are about the same age, and each of his albums up through Nebraska hold a particular bookmark in my life. But after this one came and just blew me away, I don't think I was able to connect with his music again for a long, long time. There's a full E Street Band version of this album in the archives that I hope never comes out. 

Excellent Broadside Ed...the Band version is really something...They all look really good in that video too...

Glad you made it out from under the boardwalk Ed...not sure how you did the 6 cats and no litter boxes...damn...they like to mark territory and cat feces are extreme...hope the rent was cheap...

The girls from Montreal and I moved out, and we shared an apartment for the rest of the summer. I was 18 and they were in their twenties, so they mothered me to death. It's a good way to go. 

Ah yes...to be 18 and mothered by someone not your mother...sounds good indeed...

Thanks Ed for this evocative piece about the Atlantic City of your youth and beyond. It was also great to get the various covers of Springsteen's great song. There is a pretty good tribute album of "Nebraska" called "Badlands" and one of my favorite cuts is the cover of "Atlantic City" by Hank Willams III--the punk/country grandson and antithesis of Hank Williams Jr.

As a West-Coaster who's never been to the East Coast I tend to get Atlantic City and Coney Island mixed up. Did you also go there in your youth?

 

I'd heard Born To Run and Rosalita and a few of his other radio hits but little else of Bruce.  Nebraska was the first record of his I bought.  I hadn't realized it wasn't going to have the bombast of the songs I heard, but it sure was a powerful record...."a freight train running through the middle of my head"....

We lived in Cherry Hill NJ 1964-69.  Dave Alvin's Dry River and the line about "bulldozed all the trees" reminds me of Cherry Hill of that era.  We used to ride our bikes 3 blocks from home and climb the peach trees, pluck a snack (pesticides were safe back then!) and relax.  Long gone.  Stayed at Haddon Hall with my grandmother for a weekend, talked her into a rickshaw ride on the boardwalk. LBI, Steel Pier, the diving horses, the guys on motor bikes in a raised circular cage riding 360, salt water taffy and the cars buried in the sand to control erosion, jellyfish washed up. Glorious as a kid, not so much last trip through a couple years ago going to Brigantine for a funeral.

Glad to see you back in action here, Ed.  

Cherry Hill in the mid-late fifties was similar to Downey CA where the Alvin's grew up, in that there was a lot of tract housing being thrown up to accommodate the suburban migration. May have mentioned this to you before, but I had the pleasure of seeing Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton perform at the Cherry Hill Mall about the time you lived there. Porter's TV show was on channel 29 and WRCP was a strong country radio station out of Philly. Thanks for sharing Jack. 

That mall show you saw was quite a bit more interesting than the Debbie Gibson shows later kids saw!  My folks still remember some fun nights at the Latin Casino. They now live in suburban Chicago, about 5 blocks from a house (supposedly) owned by Julianne Phillips' family.  It was dramatically rehabbed and expanded during the time she was married to Bruce. One last Cherry Hill tidbit - Muhammad Ali lived there in the 70's.

Another tidbit: I saw Harry Belafonte at the Latin Casino and then the English Beat when they renamed it Emerald City. 

Ed, do you recall a Philly DJ named Larry Goldstein?  I think he would've started on air around the late 70's, early 80's.  He was our next door neighbor in Cherry Hill, probably in his early 60's now.

Doesn't ring a bell and I knew most of the DJs back then. 

Jack, your comment reminded me of the McMurtry song  "12 o'clock Whistle":

"the boys were chasing the city truck
spraying DDT
it kept the mosquitoes down
"that stuff won't hurt 'em none"
I heard the neighbor lady say
"encephalitis, now that can ruin your day"

 

"Yes, it used to be beautiful - what with the rackets, whoring, guns."

Lou (Burt Lancaster), Atlantic City

A great line from a great movie.   It sounds like your Atlantic City Ed.  

A great film. Checking Netflix...

Wow, thought I was the only one who remembered that the bridges used to cost a nickel. No one ever believes me when I tell them. Now I have it in writing. Thanks!

If you want to blow their minds, tell them about the toll takers. 

Great discussion Ed, both about the song and the place.  Makes my annual beach trips to Myrtle Beach in the early-60's seem kind of lame.

I suspect you have in your mind a mental list of classic songs you have heard over the years that have not only been done by many artists but have always sounded great in the hands of any band due to the quality of the song.  Atlantic City is at the top of my list. One of my favorite versions that I got to personally experience was at a late night show in April 2008 at Merlefest by the Levon Helm band.  It was the Merlefest version of their famous Midnght Ramble. Fortunately, you can get the whole CD (or individual songs) of the show.   The set also included a good version of another of my classic songs Long Black Veil.  Thanks for the memories!

We all miss Levon. 

We all miss Levon. 

I have a special place in my memory for the Jersey Shore. Mid '70's, Wildwood Boardwalk. I had never heard of Bruce Springsteen, (coming from New England). I met a beautiful girl from Stone Harbor and we hit it off. While during an intimate time in the bunkhouse of a friend's farm with her, a song came on the radio that blew me away. I froze and listened. "Who is that!" I asked her. "That's Bruce Springsteen silly", she replyed. It was "Born To Run" When I returned back home, I devoured that album as well as the two before it. I became a fan of his music and writing, good and not so good, but Nebraska was huge. Second to his version of Atlantic City, I also love The Band's cover. When ever I hear "Born To Run though, it brings me right back to those crazy, lazy summer days on the South Jersey shore.

Magical times back then. Thanks for sharing. 

I remember those days as a wee lad in the early sixties, going to AC for a beach day, and yeah finding a parking spot as close to the beach as possible. Yanking all the beach gear out of the station wagon and shuffling down to the beach for sun and fun, and heading up to the boardwalk to gawk at the people and goods in the stores. spending hours in the arcades and worn out dead tired being reenergized by the night lights and the rides on the pier. we didn't have to cross the bridge though, I'm a South Jersey boy. Thanks for jarring my brain cells and bringing back those memories. And yes indeedy, this is a great song.