Rolled Up Like a Douche: "Blinded by the Light" Explained

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A few years ago, my band took a trip up the east coast to play some shows in and around New York City. One of the stops was in Asbury Park at a club called The Saint. Not more than probably a mile down the road was the Stone Pony, the legendary venue where some great bands got their start including New Jersey's most loved Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (you thought I was going to say Bon Jovi, right?).

For my singer, it was a somewhat mystical experience having grown up a big fan of the Boss. For me, it was another bit of musical history to add to my own. And 39 years ago today, it all got started when the E Street Band released Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ to little popular success but eventual critical acclaim. The album only sold 25,000 copies, but it widely considered one of the great rock records of the '70s.

Oddly enough, the most famous version of the opening track of the record was not recorded by Springsteen. "Blinded by the Light" was turned into a whirling dervish of a prog-pop song by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, who took it to number one on the charts in 1977.

The rapid-fire, beat-poet-style lyrics of "Blinded" are a tribute to Springsteen's youth. In what would become typical Springsteen fashion, the song was a wistful, sarcastic and sentimental look back at his home state, perfectly appropriate for the first song on an album named it and the town where his career began.

What is surprising is just how many of the lyrics are flubbed and misunderstood from this particular song, not to mention how many people just don't get what the hell many of the lyrics mean. Much of the imagery hers is from his youth growing up in AP and many of the references are to actual people.

So, I did some digging and here's a synopsis of what you might be missing.

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8 comments
Sophie
Sophie

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Steve Gilbert
Steve Gilbert

I saw a live acoustic concert special Springsteen did on VH1 I think it was (perhaps last year) where he tells the whole story of the misunderstanding of the word "deuce" in the lyric to "Blinded By The Light" (yes he was referring to a Little Deuce Coupe).  He mentioned something about how the misunderstanding made the Manfred Mann version popular...and kept him eating during a lean time in his career.  Funny stuff.

WW
WW

I remember seeing Manfred Mann's Earth Band perform this song on SNL way back in the day! 

Michael Goldman
Michael Goldman

Interesting write up except for the fact that Asbury Park is not Springsteen's "hometown" nor is it where he grew up.  That would be Freehold.

Jeff
Jeff

Yup, unintentional writing error. Corrected. Thanks.

Championshipvinyl73
Championshipvinyl73

I can't decide if you're full-on tounge-in-cheek with this or not. I thought it was more of a reference to a 32 Ford "Deuce coupe"? And the "tripping the merry go round...sneezing and wheezing..." et al. was a veiled reference at experimenting with angel dust...

Jeff
Jeff

That's been debated. I think you are probably right and I changed a bit to reflect that. As for the tripping part, that is likely true. I was more referring to the entire line to which Springsteen has said it was about him being a kid who thought he knew everything but basically knew nothing. Thanks for reading.

csoakley
csoakley

But mama, that's where the fun is!!!!!!!!!!!

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