The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle

The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
Studio album by Bruce Springsteen
Released September 11, 1973
Recorded May - September 1973
914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, New York
Genre Heartland Rock, Jersey Shore sound
Length 46:47
Label Columbia
Producer Mike Appel, Jim Cretecos
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band chronology
Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
Born to Run
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (A-)[2]
Rolling Stone (positive)[3]
Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars [4]
Sputnikmusic (4.5/5) [5]

The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle is the second album by Bruce Springsteen and the as-yet-unnamed E Street Band, and is described by Allmusic as "one of the greatest albums in the history of rock & roll."[1] It was released in 1973. The album includes the song "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)," the band's most-used set-closing song for the first 10 years of its career.

As with Springsteen's first album, it was well-received critically but had little commercial success at the time. However, once Springsteen achieved popularity with Born to Run, several selections from this album became popular FM radio airplay and concert favorites.

The E Street Band is known to have taken its name from David Sancious' mother's home in Belmar, New Jersey. But based on first-hand recounts of Sancious, the 'shuffle' occurred when the band's rented truck broke down late one night after a gig in New York City. Snowing, but within walking distance of Sancious' mother's home, the band decided to walk the short distance. The back photo on the album has the six band members standing in a doorway. The picture was of an antique store on Sairs Ave in the west end section of Long Branch, New Jersey. The building was across the street from West End Elementary School, and for years was Tommy Reeds bicycle repair shop and penny candy store; it has since been demolished and its former location is occupied by a parking lot.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 132 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[6] On November 7, 2009, Springsteen and the E Street Band played the album in its entirety for the first time ever in a concert at Madison Square Garden.[citation needed]


Track listing

All tracks composed by Bruce Springsteen

Side one
  1. "The E Street Shuffle" – 4:31
  2. "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" – 5:36
  3. "Kitty's Back" – 7:09
  4. "Wild Billy's Circus Story" – 4:47
Side two
  1. "Incident on 57th Street" – 7:45
  2. "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" – 7:04
  3. "New York City Serenade" – 9:55

Synopses and notes on songs

"The E Street Shuffle"

"The E Street Shuffle" introduces a small group of characters, including Power Thirteen and "his girl, Little Angel." The song describes the sordid characters of "E Street." The police are described as particularly oppressive: "the newsboys say the heat's been bad since Power Thirteen gave a trooper all he had in a late-summer scuffle." The song is fast-paced and exciting, and sets the mood for the album.

"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"

"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" is a powerful love ballad, dedicated to Sandy and describing the depressing atmosphere that threatens to smother the love between the singer and Sandy. Locals include the "stoned-out faces," "switchblade lovers" and "the greasers" who "tramp the streets or get busted for sleeping on the beach all night." The singer is tired of "hangin' in them dusty arcades" and "chasin' the factory girls."

Van Morrison's influence can be heard in this song, as "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" closely parallels his romanticization of Belfast in such songs as "Cyprus Avenue" and "Madame George".

One of the first artists to cover Springsteen were The Hollies who recorded a single of "Sandy" in 1975.

"Kitty's Back"

"Kitty's Back" describes, in contrast to the happy-in-spite-of-everything lovers of "4th of July", the depressed and unlucky characters of the seedy part of town. Catlong, Kitty, Sally, Big Pretty and Jack Knife are the only characters introduced by name, and the song focuses on Catlong (usually referred to as "Cat") and Kitty, his ex-girlfriend, who "left to marry some top cat" (referring to Big Pretty, and contrasting with her boyfriend, Catlong). In the end, Catlong can not resist Kitty when she returns because "she's so soft, she's so blue," and, even though he "knows his Kitty's been untrue" he "just sits back and sighs/Ooh, what can I do? Ooh, what can I do?"

"Kitty's Back" was written as a jazz tune, and contains an open-ended middle where the E Street Band is allowed to improvise. On the album, keyboardist David Sancious performs an organ solo. In concert, each musician was allowed several minutes of jamming time (the Hammersmith Odeon London '75 live album contains a 17-minute rendition).

"Wild Billy's Circus Story"

"Wild Billy's Circus Story" describes a panoply of circus people, including the fat woman ("Big Mama"), the fire-eater (who's "lyin' in a pool of sweat, a victim of the heat wave") and more. None of the characters get more than a line or two of description, characterizing them as dysfunctional, and bored in spite of the apparent freakishness. The titular character, Billy, is not introduced until the very end when the "circus boss" whispers to him "hey son, do you want to try the big top?/All aboard, Nebraska's the next stop." This song may be one large reference to Bob Dylan's tall tale of starting his music career with a traveling circus at the age of 13.

Around this time of night at the when you start breaking it down to the real freaks. If you've ever been at one of those old circuses, between 12 and 1, just before they break down and move on - these are some of the people that are left.
—Bruce Springsteen, Concert, 3rd March 1974[7]

A character named Wild Billy also appears in "Spirit in the Night", on Springsteen's debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. The song "The Last Carnival" on Springsteen's 2009 Working On A Dream album is a sequel to "Wild Billy's Circus Story".

"Incident on 57th Street"

"Incident on 57th Street" is about "Spanish Johnny," who is "dressed just like dynamite" though he drives a "beat-up old Buick" and can't find a girlfriend. A desperate Johnny is told he is a cheater and a liar by "the pimps" who "swing their axes." He meets "Puerto Rican Jane" whom he wants to drive down "to the other part of town where paradise ain't so crowded." The new couple find their "soul flame" while "out on the street tonight." In spite of their sudden love, Jane knows "he'd never be true, but then she didn't really mind." Though Johnny tries not to get involved in the sordid affairs of his neighborhood, preferring to watch "the kids playin' down the street." Jane sleeps with her "sheets damp from sweat" while "Johnny sits up alone and watches her dream on, dream on." When Jane wakes up, she sees "Johnny putting his clothes back on" and all she can say is "those romantic young boys/All they ever want to do is fight." Johnny's friends call in through the window, asking if he wants to make "some easy money" and he leaves, promising to meet Jane "tomorrow night on Lover's Lane."

The song is often remembered for Garry Tallent's bass solo at 4.00 minutes, as well as for Danny Federici's signature organ figure in each of the song's choruses, one of Federici's more prominent moments in the E Street discography.

"Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)"

"Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" is a story of forbidden love between the singer and "Rosalita." It's one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll".[8] The song's music video occupied the #71 spot on Rolling Stone's 1993 list of the top 100 videos.[9]

"New York City Serenade"

"New York City Serenade" makes less obvious sense than the earlier songs. The first verse concerns "Billy" and "Diamond Jackie," who are "gonna boogaloo down Broadway and come back home with the loot." The second verse is about a "fish lady" ("fish lady" referring to a prostitute...) who "baits them tenement walls" and "won't take corner boys" because they "ain't got no money." The singer invites her to come with him "down Broadway" and "shake away your street life/shake away your city life," and "hook up to the train"; she, however, "won't take the train" because "she's afraid them tracks are gonna slow her down/and when she turns, this boy'll be gone." The third verse is a plea directed towards the "jazz man" who is asked to "play me your serenade" and advised to "save your notes, don't spend 'em on the blues boy/Save your notes, don't spend 'em on the darlin' yearlin' sharp boy." This song evolved from a few of Springsteen's earlier pieces including "Vibes Man" and "New York City Song."


The E Street Band

Additional musicians


Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle at Allmusic. Retrieved 17 October 2005.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Bruce Springsteen: The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle > Consumer Guide Album". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2 December 2005. 
  3. ^ Emerson, Ken (January 30, 1974). "Bruce Springsteen The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle > Album Review". Rolling Stone (153). Retrieved 20 March 2004. 
  4. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Bruce Springsteen". In Brackett, Nathan with Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 771-773. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.  Portions posted at "Bruce Springsteen > Album Guide". Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Thomas, Adam (March 4, 2009). "Bruce Springsteen The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle > Staff Review". sputnikmusic. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "132 | The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1932958614. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 14 April 2006. 
  7. ^ Transcribed Bruce Springsteen Quotes
  8. ^ Rock On The Net: Bruce Springsteen
  9. ^ Rock On The Net: Rolling Stone: "The 100 Top Music Videos" (1993)

External links

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