By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Nineteen seventy-eight wasn’t merely a big year for Bruce Springsteen, who, at the time, had just released the follow-up to 1975’s “Born To Run,” the record that catapulted him from mediocre recording artist to “the future of rock ‘n’ roll.”
With the release of “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Springsteen captured the hearts of a new fanbase that has stuck with him ever since the same people who chowed down free pizza and coffee at Jack’s Music Shoppe Monday night in anticipation of the dual releases of the Springsteen treasure trove, a remastered and expanded version of “Darkness” and documentary of that era, “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town.”
Broad Street’s last surviving disc dealer commemorated the 30th anniversary release with a special screening of the doc, hosted a Bruce cover band, The E-Street Shuffle, and when the calendar turned to Tuesday, opened the register and started handing the coveted Boss artifacts over the counter.
“The album is almost like a homecoming,” said Harv Cohen, who drove from Philadelphia to get the reissue.”It’s pretty nostalgic.”
For guys like Cohen, “Darkness” is the album that changed his perception of The Boss. Until then, Springsteen was just a really good artist who played a lot of shows at Jersey Shore clubs.
“You can listen to “Darkness” 1,000 times straight,” he said. “All the hits are great. They’re like a drug.”
John Hayes, of Marlboro, got hooked on Springsteen when he went on tour in support of the record. It was at a show in New York, he said, and since then, “anything I’m nuts about, it’s Springsteen.”
“Ever since ’78, that tour, I was hooked,” he said. “If I had a top 10 list, this (record) would be right at the top.”
So often it’s assumed that “Born To Run,” with its grand themes and epic arrangements, put The Boss in the hearts of the masses, which certainly is true in many cases. But for Hayes, it was the departure from “Born To Run” that had him convinced Bruce Springsteen was not a flash in the pan, but a rock ‘n’ roll savior, he said.
“It’s the guitar, the style of the music,” said Hayes, of Marlboro. “This is more rock ‘n’ roll. It was just down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll. The band is just about the instruments, the music.”
On Monday night, Maureen Marcil, a Red Bank business owner, showed up to Jack’s past her usual bed time to join in on the party. Sure, she had hoped Springsteen would show up in one of the aisles of CD racks. But Marcil said coming to the party was a chance for her to get a little nostalgic herself. Her first Bruce concert was in 1978, she said, “it was the end after that. I love him.”
While one of those surprise performances he’s known for putting on would have been the perfect end to the night, just getting record was enough for Jeff Beyer, who was the first in line to buy it when the clock struck midnight. He headed back home to South Brunswick shortly after the record was put in a bag and his credit card was approved.
No in-store performance for Beyer, but at least he had something to listen to on the ride back home.
“Oh my god, yeah,” Breyer said. “All the way home.”