The Song: "Badlands," Bruce Springsteen. Words & music by Bruce Springsteen. Track 1 of Darkness on the Edge of Town, 1978.
How/when acquired: Gift LP, 1981
Happy birthday, Bruce Springsteen. He is 61 today, and as far as I'm concerned, his importance in American pop culture cannot be overstated.
He's saved my life more than once, with this song among others. Darkness on the Edge of Town, released the year I turned 13, was my first real exposure to Bruce Springsteen. I'd been dimly aware of Born to Run, but I was too young to understand what he was talking about. Darkness, released around the time I started ninth grade, distilled everything hopeful and magic about what might lie on the other side of adolescence.
I still own this album on vinyl. It was a gift from my brother Ed — reparations, really. He'd cracked one of the two discs in my copy of The River, and I'd reacted exactly as you'd expect the 14-year-old sister of a ten-year-old brother to do. Ed, gracious and honorable beyond his years, tried to replace the album, but the Exchange had sold out; he bought me Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town instead. So thanks for that, Ed, and I owe you.