Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Alert! 
Grammy Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  1921
Date:  05/26/1984
Debut:  36
Peak:  2
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  After Springsteen's 1980 #1 double-LP The River had wound down, he retreated to his home and began writing songs for the follow-up. As he wrote the songs, he recorded demos of them on a little 4-track recorder. Armed with a good chunk of songs, Springsteen gathered his band in the studio to fully record them. However, as the songs got recorded it was noticed that something just wasn't right. It seemed that the feeling and atmosphere Springsteen created in the demos got lost when done with the whole band. It was then that the gutsy move was made to release the demos as his next album. Titled Nebraska, the stark and haunting album managed to reached #3 on the chart and go platinum. It is now considered one of his best works. With that experiment done, Springsteen had to get back to business with the E Street Band. Instead of going the epic route of some of his previous albums and songs, Springsteen put together a set of concise tunes that kept one foot solidly in rock while dipping the other into the pop pool. This was easily demonstrated via this song, which was the first issued from the LP Born in the U.S.A. The synth-driven tune with a rock backbone was an immediate sensation. Boosted by a hugely popular MTV video, the single would take off and soar to the #2 position at Pop. It would stay there for four weeks blocked from the top slot by Duran Duran's "The Reflex" and Prince "When Dove's Cry." Of course the track would reach #1 at Rock for six weeks. More surprisingly was that a 12" remix of it proved popular and it got to #7 at Dance. The song would be a platinum seller that would net Springsteen a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance. It was a major shot over the bow that took Springsteen from a popular heartland rocker to a worldwide superstar.

ReduxReview:  This was the absolute perfect song at the perfect time for Springsteen. It was just brilliant. I was hooked from the get-go and just couldn't get enough of the song. It came at a time when I was just really starting to explore Springsteen's music. Of course I had heard songs like "Born to Run" and "Hungry Heart," but the first album of his that I bought just happened to be Nebraska. I hadn't heard a note of it, but something about it drew my attention and I loved it. So after hearing that desolate LP many times, this song was like a blast of fresh air. Not only was it a great song, but the updated 80s production hit my sweet spot. The album ended up being even better.


Trivia:  As most folks may remember, the song had a concert/performance style video. Directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie, Dressed to Kill), it was filmed over two nights at the Saint Paul Civic Center in Minnesota. On the first night, De Palma filmed just the band performing the song. The next night it was filmed again, but this time it was during an actual concert performance (it was the opening night of Springsteen's tour). What may be most memorable from the video is the point near the end when Springsteen reaches his hand out to a girl in the audience and has her come up on stage to dance with him. That girl was aspiring model and actress Courteney Cox. The brief exposure boosted her "it" girl factor and she began to get some work on TV in shows like The Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote. A bigger break came when she was cast as Alex Keaton's girlfriend in the hit NBC show Family Ties. But she became a legit star when she joined the cast of Friends in 1994.


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