Darkness on the Edge of Town

Darkness on the Edge of Town

Released three years after the epic Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s fourth album is full of the literal darkness in the album title—but it also also crackles with power and intensity. Darkness on the Edge of Town wasn’t an easy album to make: It didn’t arrive until 1978, largely because Springsteen had signed a contract preventing him from working with any producer not approved by the singer’s management. Springsteen sued his manager; his manager sued him back; and, as a result, the Boss spent a year and a half fighting to defend everything he had worked for. That defiance can be found throughout Darkness on the Edge of Town, from the lyrics to the vocals to the instrumental performances. You can hear Springsteen’s anger—as well as the sheer relief of achieving his freedom. But you can also sense Springsteen’s very real fear that everyone had forgotten about him, and his awareness that this record was going to make or break his future. The material was powerful enough—but the emotional catharsis required to bring it together took Darkness on the Edge of Town to another level. So there’s the snarling saga of father/son dynamics in “Adam Raised a Cain”; the firecracker fuse of lust in “Something in the Night” and “Candy’s Room”; the dull mundanity of the 9-to-5 job in “Factory.” Springsteen’s writing was informed by a new interest in classical country music, as well as an increasing affinity with American cinema. The dignity of adult life, and the sharp jump-cuts of B movies, informed a record featuring Springsteen’s now-familiar cast of ne’er-do-wells. These are people who’ve evolved past their days of living hard and getting into trouble. Springsteen’s characters in Darkness on the Edge of Town are trying to get by—but they’re desperate and making bad decisions along the way. They’re running out of road. You can hear their desperation in “Racing in the Street,” or on the somber title track. But this is hardly a hopeless album. Springsteen also included beacons of light in the form of “Badlands,” “The Promised Land,” and “Prove It All Night”—a trinity that would expand far beyond their roles as lifelines on this record, and come to symbolize the universal quest for hope and redemption.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada