Manca poco ormai all’ uscita del cofanetto di Bruce Springsteen, la versione originale dell’ articolo la trovate qui.
Buona lettura e buona domenica.
Shedding Some Light on ‘Darkness’
By MIKE HALE
Published: October 6, 2010
A lot of motives might have been at play in “The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ ”: nostalgia, vanity, a desire for documentation or benediction. One thing that’s undoubtedly on display, though, is bravery.
Frank Stefanko/Sony Music Entertainment
Bruce Springsteen in “The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town,’ ” on HBO.
For much of the documentary, making its debut Thursday night on HBO, the director, Thom Zimny, cuts between a contemporary interview with Bruce Springsteen and footage shot more than 30 years ago of the young Bruce, an intense and beautiful creature who looks like the Robert De Niro of “Mean Streets,” but friendlier.
Mr. Springsteen, now 61, is aging remarkably well, but still — how many of us, at that age, would want to spend an hour and a half being compared with our 28-year-old selves?
Those scenes of Mr. Springsteen and the E Street Band in the studio during the year they worked on “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” their fourth album, were shot in grainy black and white by Barry Rebo, a future cinematographer and producer. Along with old color home movies of the Springsteen family, they give “The Promise” a surface resemblance to Bruce Weber’s great musical documentary “Let’s Get Lost,” about the trumpeter Chet Baker.
“The Promise,” however, is much smaller in scope. It’s a standard making-of documentary, proceeding chronologically through the tribulations and triumphs on the road to the 1978 release of “Darkness,” three years after “Born to Run” — an agonizingly long gap at a time when new songs on the radio were the only way to reach a mass audience.
What elevates the film are its subjects, both the artist and the album, which established a style and a set of themes that would define Mr. Springsteen’s subsequent career. Punk, which was developing at the same time, may get all the credit for revolutionizing popular music, but Mr. Springsteen’s determination to move away from the highly engineered and sterile perfectionism of 1970s rock made “Darkness” just as innovative in its own way.
Springsteen fans — a particularly knowledgeable and devoted audience — will be mesmerized by Mr. Rebo’s footage, which, according to HBO, has never been shown publicly. Those of us who remember where we were when we first heard the album can indulge our nostalgia while taking in the evidence of Mr. Springsteen’s stubborn yet calm determination to find exactly the sound he was seeking.
Happiest of all will be the Springsteen completists, rewarded by nuggets like his singing of “Candy’s Baby” (an earlier version of “Candy’s Room”); an alternate verse of “Something in the Night” or the never-released “What’s the Matter Little Darling”; or songs that went to other artists, like “Because the Night” (Patti Smith) and “Talk to Me” (Southside Johnny).
In the background of one shot Mr. Zimny identifies the fan Obie Dziedzic, who advised his hero to record the version of “Racing in the Street” that included a verse about a girl he met — thereby helping preserve some of Mr. Springsteen’s most romantic lyrics. (“Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea/and wash these sins off our hands.”)
In addition to the interview with the latter-day Mr. Springsteen “The Promise” includes reminiscences by most of the core members of the E Street Band and the producers Jon Landau and Jimmy Iovine. Mr. Springsteen is as intelligent and articulate a commentator as always, but he doesn’t have much to say that sounds new. On the themes that underpin “Darkness,” like sin or “deep despair, resilience, determination,” you’d rather just hear him sing.
More enlightening is Chuck Plotkin, who was brought in to help Mr. Iovine mix the album and who describes how Mr. Springsteen communicated the sounds and effects he wanted to achieve through visual, cinematic images. More amusing is Steven Van Zandt, the guitarist and latter-day “Sopranos” star, who still gets testy on the subject of the 70 new songs he had to learn before Mr. Springsteen chose the 10 that would make it onto the album. (“The Promise” was one of the rejects, after the band had spent three months rehearsing and recording it; it would show up 21 years later on “18 Tracks.”)
“The Promise” (the film) fits on the shelf with other friendly documentaries released in the past few years about great rock songwriters of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, like Bob Dylan,Neil Young and Tom Petty. It doesn’t approach the complexity or panache of Martin Scorsese’s movie about Mr. Dylan or Jonathan Demme’s films about Mr. Young, but in its modest way it’s a fitting tribute to an album meant to be lean, angry and unadorned.
The Making of ‘Darkness on theEdge of Town’HBO, Thursday night at 9, East-ern and Pacific times; 8, Centraltime.Directed by Thom Zimny; Jon Landauand Barbara Carr, executive producers;Mr. Zimny, producer and editor; WilliamRexer, cinematography; archival studioand performance footage originally pro-duced and directed by Barry Rebo. Pro-duced by Thrill Hill Productions.
A version of this review appeared in print on October 7, 2010, on page C8 of the New York edition.