Clips & Pix: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band/Backstreets

Here’s a classic by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Backstreets from Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75, a live album and video capturing a full-length performance by The Boss and his band at the British live entertainment venue in November 1975 during the Born to Run tour. This package was released in November 2005 as part of the 30th anniversary edition of Born to Run, my favorite Springsteen album.

While I feel there’s no need to justify this post, the reason I’m publishing this now is very simple. I was listening to a used vinyl copy of Born to Run I recently had picked up at a great local vintage record store. Backstreets, which like all other tracks on the record was written by Springsteen, is the final tune on Side one.

According to Songfacts, Backstreets is an intense story about a broken relationship; a tale of losing a lover where the narrator seems more concerned about losing her as a friend. The girl in the song, Terry, is a character Springsteen created based on girls he knew...Asked where this song came from in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Springsteen replied: “Just youth, the beach, the night, friendships, the feeling of being an outcast and kind of living far away from things in this little outpost in New Jersey. It’s also about a place of personal refuge. It wasn’t a specific relationship or anything that brought the song into being.”

Songfacts also notes Backstreets is one of E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg’s favorite Springsteen tunes. They include the following quote from an ABC Radio interview: “I guess what hit me most about it was the emotionalism of the lyrics. I felt particularly proud to play on that record [Born to Run – CMM], because it was a kind of an involved drum part, it involved not playing a lot, just getting into that tom-tom figure – ba-ba-ba-ba-boom bom-boom, ba-ba-ba-ba-boom bom-boom. And if anyone’s every heard ‘Running Sacred’ by Roy Orbison, that was the kind of tension we were trying to create. And I like to think we did.”

In addition to Springsteen (electric guitar, vocals) and Weinberg, the tune’s original studio recording also featured Garry Tallent (bass) and Roy Bittan (piano, Hammond organ). Last but not least, there’s a magazine for Springsteen fans titled after the song. It’s been published quarterly since 1980.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; Backstreets website; YouTube

23 thoughts on “Clips & Pix: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band/Backstreets”

  1. The album “Born To Run” describes a summer night full of stories and “Backstreets” is a definitely highlight and one perfect example for Bruce Springsteen as a great cinema-like storyteller.
    And the show in London 1975 contains a mix of feelings. Bruce was very nervous during his first show in Europe. Instead of the negative mood I like the live documentary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is my favorite song off of Born To Run. It’s almost like a mini movie. He created dynamics and suspense in this song.

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      1. Yes as I recall the story is that Bruce wasn’t happy with horn parts on 10 Avenue – Steve comes in and sings each horn part to the session guys (Brecker brothers?). And they are like who is this guy? Cracks me up trying to picture it

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      1. Not that I want to increase your jealousy. During “my” show at MetLife stadium in New Jersey, Springsteen set a new record, performing just under four hours. Four hours with no break – I mean who else does this, especially nowadays. A few days later, Springsteen broke that record by a few minutes in Philly!

        My first Springsteen show was in the late ‘80s in Frankfurt, Germany. It was “only” 3.5 hours – in part because they needed to stop because of noise ordinances!

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      2. Haha that’s great Christian!! I know that’s crazy right. Especially since I feel like he puts more into a single song than a lot of bands do for their whole concert! I think the longest he played when I saw him was like almost 3 and a half hours on the Tunnel of Love tour – I didn’t think I would be able to keep going!

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      3. I think his record for longest concert was in 2013 in Finland – internet says 4 hours 6 minutes. – sounds like yours was awfully close to this !

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ok realizing that you are talking about the second “River” your. I initially thought you meant the original one. Either way great shows.


  3. Man I have to go back to that box. I know this was the show that Bruce was a little unhappy about – having spent time going round the venue ripping down all the hype posters ‘Finally, London is ready for Bruce Springsteen’ – and didn’t think it was that good a show until they dug out it out for the BtR box. There’s an official ‘boot’ of the show they played a week or so later with a near identical set so I’m curious how the two compare. Still – on an album chock full of great tunes, Backstreets has always been a highlight for me

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