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Badlands (Bruce Springsteen song): Wikis

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"Badlands"
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Darkness on the Edge of Town
Released August 1978
Format 7" single
Recorded Fall 1977
Genre Rock
Length 4:01
Label Columbia Records
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau
Bruce Springsteen singles chronology
Prove It All Night/Factory
(1978)
Badlands/Streets of Fire
(1978)
The Promised Land/Streets of Fire
(1978)
Darkness on the Edge of Town track listing
"Badlands"
(1)
"Adam Raised a Cain"
(2)

"Badlands" was the leadoff track on Bruce Springsteen's fourth studio album Darkness on the Edge of Town, and its second single.

Contents

Themes

The song tells the story of a man down on his luck and angry at the world, who wants a better lot in life.

Baby, I got my facts

Learned real good, right now
So let's get it straight darlin'
Poor man wanna be rich
Rich man wanna be king
And a king ain't satisfied
'Till he rules everything
I wanna go out tonight
I wanna find out what I got

Instrumentation

The classic E Street Band sound is immediately presented on "Badlands", as a brief drums intro kicks in to a powerful piano-and-electric guitar riff. The song is taken fast but with a purpose, with Max Weinberg's most dynamic drumming on the album to the fore; indeed it contains his most famous beat, a one-two-three-four-five-six-(double time)one-two-three pattern underneath the verses. Late in the song a brief guitar break leads to a Clarence Clemons tenor saxophone part.

Chart performance and reception

"Badlands" was not a commercial Top 40 success, only reaching #42 on the Billboard Hot 100, even worse than the album's previous single "Prove It All Night". Badlands did achieve considerable progressive rock and album-oriented rock radio airplay at the time, and classic rock airplay since. Moreover, Badlands has remained quite popular with Springsteen fans and with Springsteen himself. The song has appeared on seven Bruce Springsteen releases: Darkness on the Edge of Town, Live/1975–85, the 1995 Greatest Hits, Live in New York City, Live in Barcelona, The Essential Bruce Springsteen, and the Wal-Mart-only 2009 Greatest Hits.

Live performance

Throwing white lights onto the floor audience during the rousing choruses is a typical production element of live performances of "Badlands". Magic Tour main set closer, TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, November 18, 2007.

As evinced by its appearance on three live offerings, "Badlands" is a core staple of Springsteen and E Street Band concert performances. Played at breakneck tempo, it opened shows on the 1978 Darkness Tour before the album had even been released, a slot it held for much of that legendary tour (one such performance from Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum was filmed and released as a promotional video in the early 1980s). It was featured near or at the end of the first set during the 1980-1981 River Tour (one such performance from Arizona State University, famously introduced by Springsteen decrying the election of Ronald Reagan as president the night before, was included on Live/1975–85, less the intro), a spot it held for much of the 1984-1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour until the stadium shows, when it was used to keep momentum going out of the opening "Born in the U.S.A.". "Badlands" was put on the shelf for most of the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express, a mark of how radically that tour sought to throw out stock show elements. Once the 1992-1993 "Other Band" Tour was underway, it was quickly added back in for some needed mid-first-set energy. Springsteen seemed to conclude it fit this role, as he kept it in the same "10 songs in" position during all of the 1999-2000 Reunion Tour and 2002-2003 Rising Tour shows, recapturing audience enthusiasm after less familiar material such as "Murder, Inc." or "Worlds Apart" were performed. On the 2007 Magic Tour, however, the shortened show time resulted in "Badlands" becoming even more prominent as the main set closer. For the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour, "Badlands" resumed its old role as the show opener.

Moreover, performed live, "Badlands" features a number of band and audience customary practices. Danny Federici, while he was alive and touring, would play the electronic glockenspiel, which added to carry the opening keyboard riff, immediately announcing the song to the crowd and getting everyone to their feet. Fans clap hands in time to Weinberg's famous part, with newcomers watching and then following the double-time part at the end. During the chorus, when Springsteen shouts "Bad-lands!" fans pump their fists in the air twice, once for each syllable of the word. In the years when it slotted at the start of shows, this would be Clemons' first sax solo, which would bring him to center stage and elicit huge cheers from the crowd. The slow-down afterward that is often elongated, with the audience joining Springsteen for the long, wordless "oooh oooh"s part. One or more false endings is usually tacked on, to further prolong the joint experience.

External links

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