It is rare for a song’s cover to exceed the original, but Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s cover of “Blinded by the Light” is an exception. The song was originally written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen for his 1973 album, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ Three years later, British rock band Manfred Mann’s Earth Band released their cover as the opening track of their 1976 album, Roaring silence. “Blind by the Light” was a huge hit for the band, leading to their success in the US.
Bringing together an outstanding songwriter like Springsteen is an incredible musical feat, and Manfred Mann’s mean band managed to pull it off. In fact, his cover became Springsteen’s first and only songwriting credit to hit No.
“Blind by the Light” is a high-energy track that matches the thrill of adolescence. The song is full of youth’s attitude of invincibility and hope that anything is possible. The lyrics are reminiscent of Springsteen’s early days as a musician, with some eccentric characters whom he met at places.
Some Silicon Sister With Manager Mister
Told me I got what I wanted
She said “I’ll turn on Sonny to get you something strong”
Play the song with funky breaks”
However, on the rollercoaster of being a young musician, the “downs” are just as prevalent as the “ups”. The lyrics also hint at the downsides of always moving on and struggling to make it to the top.
With a boulder on my shoulder, feeling a little older
I did a merry-go-round trip
With this very unpleasant’, sneeze’ and wheezing’
Calliope fell to the ground!
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band changed some of Springsteen’s original songs while putting their own spin on “Blinded by the Light”. the most recognizable part of the song, Blinded by the light / Resurrected like a deuce / Another runner in the night, was in the beginning, Cut loose at night like a deuce/second runner.
Even though this chorus is the most iconic part of the song, it is also notoriously heard by fans. in the cover, revived like a deuce sounds so awful Wrapped like a scarf.
In 2005, Springsteen himself commented on this amusing mistake. “Deuce was like a Little Deuce coupe, like in a 2-seater hot rod. Douche is a feminine hygiene procedure. But what can I say, public speaking,” he joked.
Manfred Mann’s version of the song is seven minutes longer than Springsteen’s original version of five minutes. The band added a number of unique instruments, along with standout guitar solos, piano riffs, and most notably, “chopsticks”.
If you’ve ever taken piano lessons, “Chopsticks” is probably a familiar tune. It can be played with just two fingers, and the harmony makes the simple song fun to learn.
When the band was recording “Blind by the Light”, they knew they had to pull out all the stops to make it a hit. As they played in the studio, they got stuck trying to transition between the chorus and the verses.
The band’s frontman Mann recalled his decision to include “Chopsticks” on the final track. “When we finally finished the album track, I thought it had a great vibe, but the next question was how to get it into a single. The real problem was how to smoothly move from chorus to verse. I Couldn’t figure out a way to do it,” he said. “And then – and that’s why you need to be in a band – our drummer Chris Slade said, ‘Play chopsticks over it.'”
Mann was skeptical of the idea and turned it down several times. But when Slade continued to insist, he gave it a try. It worked surprisingly well. “I suddenly realized he wasn’t hearing the chopsticks themselves, just the strings, which fit perfectly,” he admitted.
What makes a great cover?
Manfred Mann’s cover of “Blinded by the Light” is just as famous, if not more, as the original. Although the band used their own voice and style to make it their own, they centered on Springsteen’s vision. The lyrics, melody and rock and roll sound of both the songs are similar. Regardless, Springsteen and Manfred Mann each have different vocals and massively talented bands, making both versions of the song completely unique.
“Blind by the Light” is proof that the perfect cover is an equal mix of creativity and respect for the primary text.
Listen to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “Blind by the Light” below.
Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images
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