Gonzo: So, I can’t find the original studio version on Youtube. Mp3 incoming.

In the meantime, I’m going to get some hummus.

Blerd: Aw dude, that makes me look bad. I’m eating Chex Mix

G: Aw, shit.

Well, let’s get down to business

Most of our convos thus far have been in the pop/R&B realm. I’m taking us a little more into rock territory.

B: Ooh…dangerous!

Shall i hit play?

G: Let’s!

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B: Bruuuuuuuuuce!

G: Indeed!

B: This sounds a little less like the Bruce we know and love, and a little more like Bruce trying to be Dylan-esque.

G: True.

B: Very, very wordy.

G: This is track one from his first album.

B: I didn’t hear it for the first time until maybe 2004 or whenever The Essential Bruce Springsteen came out.

G: Geoffrey Himes’ 33 1/3 on Born in the USA makes the argument that it wasn’t until that album that Bruce learned the art of being concise.

B: Was probably the first time he was consistently concise. He was able to do it in fits and starts before.

G: Yes, but more often went for epic, anthemic and grandeur.

The lyrics here are certainly NOT concise! It’s actually making me a little bit dizzy!

I heard this song a little earlier than you did, probably very late 1990s or very early aughts, and I was a bit taken aback to learn that what I knew as a classic rock radio staple was in fact a Springsteen cover.

B: Same here. I was like “Springsteen wrote THAT?”

It doesn’t sound like a song of his in it’s remade incarnation.

G: Speaking of which, do you have 7 minutes?

B: For you? Of course!

G: No, not for me.  For Manfred Mann!

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B: Well, to be precise, this is Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

G: Correct

B: I can’t say I know what the difference is (between Manfred Mann and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.)

G: Not to be confused with his Moon Band

B: Or his Mars Band?

G: I will say this, these synths are kinda spacey.

B: Yeah, that’s my favorite part of the song. Very Seventies

G: But mostly, this song reminds me of Blow.

B: Can’t say I’ve ever seen it.

G: Aw, really? It’s pretty great. At least I thought so ten years ago.

It even has Bobcat Goldthwait and Paul Reubens!

B: Does it really?! That moves it up a couple of notches on my list!

G: Of course, Manfred Mann’s version has one of the most infamous misheard lyrics of all time.

B: “Wrapped up like a douche”!

G: Yes!

And truthfully, that’s what I thought the lyrics were initially – when I probably didn’t even know what “douche” meant.

(for the record, it’s “deuce”)

G: Worth noting: Manfred Mann’s cover peaked at #1 in the US…and Canada!

B: Springsteen’s only #1 song ever.

G: Although Bruce’s version was released as a single, it didn’t chart in the 13 countries that Wikipedia lists in its tally!

Poor Bruce.

Hey, what the fuck has Manfred Mann been doing for the last 30 years?

B: Or his Earth Band, for that matter.

G: They play the official Earth Day celebration each year (ed. note: They do not.

B: Is Manfred Mann still alive?

G: Actually, his backing band split off to join Wind and Fire. (ed. note: They also did not do this.)

B: Can you picture “Blinded by the Light” being sung by Philip Bailey?

G: That would be hot.

Mann is still alive, at the ripe old age of 70.

I can’t find anything to confirm that Mann is still active, though. Oh wait. He does have a website.

Top story: “Confirmed 2011 Tour Dates”

B: Whuuuuuuut?

I take it Manfred is the confused looking fellow in the middle?

G: Sure (????)

You can also buy “vinyls” from the site.

I hate when people say “vinyls”

B: It drives me up the wall. Fucking hipsters

G: Alright, Blerdy – what’s your assessment?

B: They’re both good. Manfred has more ear candy (which explains why it was a #1 record)

G: Agreed.

B: One thing i do wonder, because i honestly haven’t heard it on the radio since i was a teenager-how did they edit that shit down to an appropriate length?

G: I don’t know, but apparently they cut it down to 3:48

It sticks in memory as a long ’70s synthy escapade.

The book I’m reading makes a similar claim about “Hey Jude”.

B: They might have cut out some of the nah-nahs. Or faded early?

G: That’s the thing, even though there was an edit of “Blinded,” I’m betting most FM stations played the full album cut. At that point, that was kind of the appeal of FM

B: You know? Despite the fact that its the same song, Mann’s version sounds a lot less wordy and stream of consciousness.

G: I think part of that has to do with the overall arrangement – and I think it’s a slightly slower tempo too.

B: The Springsteen version isn’t without merit. I mean, I like it.

G: Yes, but this is a case where the cover took a completely different direction than the original, which I salute.

The Springsteen cut makes me think I’m at some Greenwich Village coffee shop, while Manfred Mann’s makes me think I’m in a spaceship and dropping acid.

B: Not that there’s anything wrong with Greenwich Village coffee shops, but…

G: Shit, if it’s between that and outer space?

B: Do you remember the show The Great Space Coaster? Probably not, you’re too young

G: Oh fuck no, my sister and I used to watch that.

But yeah – talk about drugs and outer space

B: Watching that shit as a grown up, I’m like…how much drugs were involved in the production of that show?

There was some serious stuff being ingested back then.

G: Alright. It’s clear that Mann’s is the definitive version of “Blinded by the Light”.

B: Yes, not a knock on The Boss at all, but this was Manfred’s time to shine.

G: Usually I’ll default to the original, but I’ll go with the Earth Band on this one.

B: Co-sign.

G: That said, if I had to pick one to listen to for an entire afternoon, I’d go with Bruce.

I think all of that noodling and spacewhizzing would get to me after 5 consecutive listens.

B: It would make me want to pick up a synthesizer and learn how to play that shit!

 

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