The Original Vs. The Cover – “Blinded By the Light”

For this edition of The Original Vs. The Cover, we are going to explore the Bruce Springsteen song “Blinded by the Light” which was later covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. For Bruce, it was his first single in the U.S. off his 1973 debut album, Greeting From Asbury Park, N.J.  And…it flopped!  Manfred Mann’s version was released in 1977 and went all the way to #1 and I believe it was Bruce’s first #1 song and his only. It took someone performing his song for him to get a #1 song…interesting considering how much he is acclaimed as being The Boss.

The song was very auto-biographical for Bruce.  There were a ton of references to friends, his youth experiences and even him getting sick.  The song came about because the record company felt he needed a single.  So, sitting in his bedroom with a rhyming dictionary, Bruce threw so many words together and came up with this beast.  He went nuts with the words and threw everything in, but I don’t see the kitchen sink.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

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As I said, the song flopped in the U.S. and it was probably because it had so many words.  No person listening to the radio could remember all the words.  The chorus was catchy, no doubt, but it is a difficult song to get in to with the way it is presented.  Bruce vocals are done in a singing / speaking format rather than full on singing which is typical Bruce.

Musically, it was is one of only two songs on the first album to feature Clarence Clemons on Saxophone.  The horns and keyboards are a plenty in the song and the E Street band is jamming away.  And I think they are part of the problem with this one.  The band seems to be playing a different song than Bruce is singing.  They feel like they are competing for the same space. For that reason, it is really tough for me to like this song as I am not sure if I am to focus on Bruce or the band.

MANFRED MANN’S EARTH BAND

 

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Manfred Mann’s version is quite different than Bruce’s.  It is more polished and better produced for a more radio friendly version of the song.  The band started the song out with the Chorus rather than jumping straight in to all those lyrics.  The song replaced the horns with keyboards and had these angelic voices layered in to give it a more heavenly feel.  It had a cool guitar riff that would pop in through out the song to help get that repeating feeling that seems to grab the audiences attention.

The biggest change they made was actually a small one.  A line in the original song was “Cut loose like a deuce” and the band changed it to “Revved up like a deuce”.  That change made the song one of the most misheard lyrics in history.  Everyone thought they were saying “Wrapped up like a Douche”, yes, the feminine product.  That little change probably put the song over the top and made it successful…at least that is what Bruce joked about one time.

The band also extended the song to 7 minutes from the original 5 minutes in length which allowed the song to breathe so to speak.  They even threw a little “Chopsticks” melody in to the mix for good measure.  The Earth Band definitely made the song their own and honestly, it wasn’t until many, many years later I knew this was actually a Bruce Springsteen song.

THE VERDICT

Well, I think it is pretty obvious which song I like the best.  The Manfred Mann’s Earth Band version does it for me.  It is the one I grew up with and I think it is a more fun song all around.  Plus, it is fun singing the line “wrapped up like a douche” when you are a kid…hell even today.  Bruce’s version is a great song, but as I said it felt he was singing to a different tune at times to what was being played by the band.  I admit it got better as I played it more, but nothing to the impact that Manfred Mann’s version had on me.

Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

“Blinded By The Light”

Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasing sneezing and wheezing, the calliope crashed to the ground
Some all-hot half-shot was headin’ for the hot spot, snappin’ his fingers, clappin’ his hands
And some fleshpot mascot was tied into a lover’s knot with a whatnot in her hand
And now young Scott with a slingshot finally found a tender spot and throws his lover in the sand
And some bloodshot forget-me-not whispers, “Daddy’s within earshot, save the buckshot, turn up the band”And she was blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
She got down but she never got tight, but she’ll make it alrightSome brimstone baritone anti-cyclone rolling stone preacher from the East
He says, “Dethrone the dictaphone, hit it in its funny bone, that’s where they expect it least”
And some new-mown chaperone was standin’ in the corner all alone, watchin’ the young girls dance
And some fresh-sown moonstone was messin’ with his frozen zone to remind him of the feeling of romanceYeah, he was blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
He got down but he never got tight, but he’s gonna make it tonight

Some silicone sister with her manager’s mister told me I got what it takes
She said, “I’ll turn you on, sonny, to something strong if you play that song with the funky break”
And Go-Cart Mozart was checkin’ out the weather chart to see if it was safe to go outside
And little Early-Pearly came by in her curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride
Oh, some hazard from Harvard was skunked on beer, playin’ backyard bombardier
Yes, and Scotland Yard was trying hard, they sent some dude with a calling card, he said, “Do what you like, but don’t do it here”
Well, I jumped up, turned around, spit in the air, fell on the ground and asked him which was the way back home
He said, “Take a right at the light, keep goin’ straight until night, and then, boy, you’re on your own”
And now in Zanzibar, a shootin’ star was ridin’ in a side car, hummin’ a lunar tune
Yes, and the avatar said, “Blow the bar but first remove the cookie jar, we’re gonna teach those boys to laugh too soon”
And some kidnapped handicap was complainin’ that he caught the clap from some mousetrap he bought last night
Well, I unsnapped his skull cap and between his ears I saw a gap but figured he’d be all right

He was just blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh, but Mama, that’s where the fun is
I was blinded
I was blinded
I was blinded

Written by Bruce Springsteen

17 thoughts on “The Original Vs. The Cover – “Blinded By the Light”

  1. Great article John! One of the things I took away from this post is the difference in arrangements between the two tracks. Manfred’s arrangement starts with the Chorus like some of my favorite songs:
    Help! by The Beatles, Crawling by Linkin Park and Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers. All such great tunes. I never noticed the difference until I read this and listened side by side. I really enjoyed this thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it. I love doing these posts. I try to do one every month, but missed May for some reason. I love it when a cover version becomes more well known than the original. It makes for an interesting post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Never know The Boss wrote this. Glad you posted his version as I had never heard it until now!
    Our radio station here only plays the Manfred version. So I thought they wrote it.
    Singer makes that line of ‘Cut Loose Like a Deuce’ sound like’ Cut loose like a douche’…haha
    That’s how I alway’s heard it haha
    Great stuff as usual John and thanks for the lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it. I honestly had no idea Bruce did it either until recently and that is when this went on the list to do. I love when I find that stuff out. It makes it way more interesting to write about as I learn stuff along with the reader…hopefully!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Count me as another who had no idea this was a Springsteen song. The MM version is just too ingrained for me, douche and all. It just feels right to me at this point. Bruce’s version seems shambolic and lacks the groove in my hearing. How interesting would it be, however, to somehow be able to go back and hear the original having never heard the better-known version? I wonder how much of my preference is down to simple familiarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think familiarity has a lot to do with it…although not always. There was one of these I did where all I knew was the cover. When I went back and visited the original, I actually liked it better. I wish I could remember which one it was.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. En España el single con la cara A era “Blinded the light” y la cara B era “Spirit in the night”
    Todos los días iba corrriendo a un bar a escuchar a The Boss, metía una moneda en la máquina jukebox para escuchar a Bruce, con la moneda podía escuchar dos canciones y siempre elegía Blinded y Spirit, las demás no me interesaban. Mas tarde apareció por la radio Manfred con su versión, muy comercial para los oyentes, pero me envuelve mas en mi ser, la canción original de Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

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