Forty years ago today, "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle," Bruce Springsteen's second studio album was released. The record's elaborate lyrics and mesh of musical genres gave birth to some of Springsteen's most memorable characters, scenes and melodies.
So here's a toast to Little Angel, Sandy, Pinball Way, the Aurora, Loverboy out on the Kokomo, Kitty, Jack Knife, Wild Billy, Spanish Johnny, Puerto Rican Jane, Little Dynamite, Little Gun, Jack The Rabbit, Weak Knees Willie, Sloppy Sue, Big Bones Billy, the little cafe where they play guitars all night and all day, Billy, Diamond Jackie, the fish lady, the junk man, Rosalita and Madam Marie.
Just seven songs long, with a long-playing length of just 47 minutes total, the record and the pictures it paints in music and words have come to be considered one of the classic rock albums of all time. Side Two, which holds just three songs -- Rosalita, Incident on 57th Street, New York City Serenade -- each flowing into another, is considered one of the best album sides ever composed. It creates a mini-opera that launches one of Springsteen's favorite themes throughout his work since -- redemption.
Side One features a variety of musical genres as it flows from The E Street Shuffle to 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) to Kitty's Back to Wild Billy's Circus Story. The second song on this side more widely known as just "Sandy" is considered by many critics to be Springsteen's most well-written song up to this point in his career and maybe beyond.
While the band wasn't the E Street Band officially on the album, the liner notes include these credits: Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez on drums, background vocals and coronet; Garry Tallent on bass, tuba (love that!) and background vocals; Danny Federici on accordion (the star of "Sandy"), background vocals, second piano on "Incident" and organ on "Kitty's Back;" Clarence "Nick" Clemons on all saxes and background vocals; David L. Sancious on piano, organ (organ solo on "Kitty's Back"), electric piano, clavinet, soprano sax on "The E Street Shuffle," background vocals, and string arrangement on "New York City Serenade;" and Bruce Springsteen on all guitars, harmonica, mandolin, recorder, lead vocals.
Cameo appearances are listed for Richard Blackwell, congas and percussion; and for Albany "Al" Tellone (from Newark, N.J.), baritone sax on "The E Street Shuffle."
To learn more about "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle" and what the critics and Springsteen were saying about it at the time of its release, check this article out. It's on the website of the Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, an archive that includes 17,000 articles and items about Springsteen's music and career. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a volunteer board member for the Special Collection.)