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Behind Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Blinded by the Light’ Song Greg Allen/Invision/AP
Greg Allen/Invision/AP

Bruce Springsteen’s first single off of debut album Greetings From Asbury Park was “Blinded By The Light“. And it performed poorly. A flop, as some say. He earned the title “The new Dylan” after a decade of performing his music and wanted to do something different. But before that, there was “Blinded By The Light”.

“Madman’s Bummers”

A cover of the song by Manfred Mann was much more popular. He changed a few of the words. For instance, that line that I heard a million high school kids butcher on the bus ride to school for a whole two years, “cut loose like a deuce” was changed to “revved up like a deuce” in Manfred Mann’s cover of “Blinded By The Light”. It gave it a bit more of a punch and more context. The Deuce (not douche, thank god) was a Ford hotrod from 1932. This version of the song was the opposite of Springsteen’s flop, it went to #1 on the charts in early 1977.

The song was originally called “Madman’s Bummers,” a phrase taken from the string of words that held only meaning to Bruce Springsteen himself. In an interview with VH1 Storytellers, the song’s meaning gets a little clearer. It appears Bruce Springsteen was writing for himself, having a little walk down the street of his memory. In the interview, he broke everything down.

Breakdown

  • “Madman drummers bummers” – Vinnie “Mad dog” Lopez was the first drummer in the E Street Band.
  • “Indians in the summer” – This was Bruce’s little league baseball team as a kid.
  • “In the dumps with the mumps” – literally means being sick with the mumps.
  • “Boulder on my shoulder” – having a “chip” on his shoulder.
  • “Some all hot, half-shot, heading for a hot spot, snapping fingers clapping his hands” – This is about being a “know it all kid growing up, who doesn’t really know anything.”
  • “Silicone Sister” – Bruce mentions that this is arguably the first mention of breast implants in popular music – recalling a dancer at one of the local strip joints in Asbury Park. “

There was also that line about the rhyming dictionary, which is exactly what he relied on heavily writing the song in his bedroom. Whatever this song is really about, it’s a catchy tune… whether you’re singing it wrong or right.

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