What Was I Listening To?

A couple of things this week made me sit back and wonder: What the hell was I listening to in the late summer of 1975?

Numerous news and entertainment outlets made an appropriately big deal Tuesday about the fortieth anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen’s album Born To Run, with most of those outlets noting that the 1975 album – Springsteen’s third – resuscitated his career, which was in question after the first two albums had been received relatively well by critics but weren’t all that successful at the sales counter. The pieces generally went on to note Springsteen’s appearance during the same week that October on the covers of both Time and Newsweek and to highlight Springsteen’s lengthy and stellar career since then.

And back then, I missed it.

I was aware of the hubbub. We got Time magazine at home, and I read Newsweek at the St. Cloud State library every week. And I imagine I heard “Born To Run” somewhere – in my car, on the jukebox at Atwood Center, in someone’s apartment – after it was released as a single. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 on September 20 and went to No. 23. But if I heard it, it didn’t register. As to the album, it entered the Billboard 200 on September 13 and was on the chart for 110 weeks, peaking at No. 2. I don’t recall hearing it anywhere that autumn (or any other time, as far as that goes, until I got my own copy in 1988).

So it was with a good dose of interest Tuesday that I read “Asbury Park, 854 Miles That Way” at the blog AM, Then FM, where my Green Bay-based friend Jeff has his shop. He notes that Springsteen’s never been a huge part of his listening life, not in 1975 and not now: “Many of my friends are Springsteen fans, and I understand and appreciate their passion for The Boss. I just don’t share it, at least not with that intensity.”

Thinking to myself that I now have that passion – as is obvious, I’m certain, to any regular visitor to this blog – I thought back to the late summer and autumn of 1975 and wondered what I was listening to. As I wondered, I clicked my way to the post “Last Days” at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ and read my pal jb’s offering of the highlights of the radio show American Top 40 from August 23, 1975.

Of the twelve records jb highlighted from the lower portion – up to No. 20 – of that long-ago show (he’ll tackle the upper part in a post to come), I remembered hearing seven back in 1975. Of the remaining five, I’ve become acquainted with three over the past forty years. Based on the Billboard Hot 100 in my files, the records from Nos. 1 to 19 will be more familiar, but they’re still not as innately familiar as similarly ranked records from four or five years earlier would have been. Except for brief interludes in my car and the time I spent at The Table in Atwood, I wasn’t listening to Top 40. (And I find myself wondering: Would the jukebox at Atwood have been programmed with something other than a straight Top 40 mix? Dunno.)

So what was I listening to at home? Well, here are the albums I’d added to my box in the basement in the previous twelve months:

Duane Allman: An Anthology
Eat A Peach by the Allman Brothers Band
Life & Times by Jim Croce
Greatest Hits by the Association
2 Years On by the Bee Gees
Odessa by the Bee Gees
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Sounds Of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel
Ndeda by Quincy Jones
Four Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Dreamspeaker by Tim Weisberg
Songs For Beginners by Graham Nash
Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison
Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd
Just An Old Fashioned Love Song by Paul Williams
Ringo by Ringo Starr
Mad Dogs & Englishmen by Joe Cocker

Some of those – from the Association through the CSN&Y album – came from Rick when he was clearing stuff from his shelves and I was homebound in November 1974, and out of those, the only ones that would still have been getting much play in the late summer of 1975 would have been the Bee Gees records. Even accounting for that, it’s an interesting mix.

As far as radio listening at home, I don’t recall at all what I was tuned to, maybe WCCO-FM, which would have been playing a format called Adult Album Alternative, if I read the history correctly. That would have suited me.

So what does all this mean? I’m not entirely sure. When the anniversary of Born To Run was being noted Tuesday, I found myself wishing – not for the first time – that I’d bought the album back in 1975 instead of waiting until the late 1980s to finally listen to and embrace the music of Bruce Springsteen. But we find what we find when we need it, and I think I’m finally learning that holding onto regrets over things undone – whether large or small (and not hearing Born To Run in 1975 is one of the small ones) – is a waste of precious time.

Here’s a track that fits that thought perfectly, and it’s one that I would have heard on my basement stereo during the summer and autumn of 1975: From 1972’s Eat A Peach, here’s the Allman Brothers Band and “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.”

List of albums amended November 27, 2015.

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One Response to “What Was I Listening To?”

  1. Steve E. says:

    You’re not alone in coming to Bruce a little later than you’d wished. I was certainly aware of “Born to Run” 40 years ago, but it was because of all of the stories about him. I recall hearing the single on the radio a few times, and while I thought it was OK, I wasn’t sure just why it was so special. Maybe it was my age — I was about to enter 12th grade. I just couldn’t think beyond certain limits at that point. I did not get the album at that time. Three years later, when “Darkness on the Edge of Town” came out, I was a bit more intrigued. One of my best friends was a huge fan by then and was trying to persuade me to join him to see Springsteen perform at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on the “Darkness” tour. I resisted, and it’s one of the biggest concert-related regrets of my life (along with not going with my neighbor to see George Harrison in 1974 and also Bob Dylan and the Band that same year). I finally became a full-fledged Springsteen fan in late 1980, when I saw him on “The River” tour. This was when he was still doing shows lasting almost four hours, and it was incredible — one of the top three or four greatest concerts I’ve ever seen. I finally understood. I just wished I’d understood earlier, back in 1975.

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