Reliving Summer Youth With Sandy On The 4th One More Time
“Sandy, the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight
Forcin' a light into all those stony faces left stranded on this warm July”
- Bruce Springsteen
There are some great summers songs out there but when it comes to celebrating the 4th of July I can’t think of any better song than that of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s “4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”.
I first heard this song when I was about 19 years old. My brother-in-law Tom let me borrow Bruce’s Live ’75-’85 box set on vinyl. There it was. Track four off side one. The crackling of the vinyl record sounded like firecrackers filling the sky of the Jersey Shore.
I remember playing it every summer weekend on my brother’s record player when he wasn’t home. I’d lie on my back and stare at the ceiling while the music played, painting the picture in my head. I could see an unknown Bruce with an unwritten future ahead of him walking along the shore with his girl on the boardwalk. The sound of screaming roller coasters and ocean waves crashing all around, the smell of cotton candy and popcorn in the air. “Love me tonight and I promise I’ll love you forever,” sings Bruce. Classic.
Here are some interesting notes on this classic from 1973’s The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle thanks to the websites songfacts.com and springsteenlyrics.com:
1. The song was written in mid-1973. In his 1998 book Songs, Springsteen wrote: "I'd been evicted from my apartment above the beauty salon, so I moved on myself and was living with my girlfriend in a garage apartment, five minutes from Asbury Park, in Bradley Beach. This is where I wrote '4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)'.....I used the boardwalk and the closing down of the town as a metaphor for the end of a summer romance and the changes I was experiencing in my own life."
2. "Sandy" was a composite of girls Springsteen knew growing up in New Jersey. He calls the song "a goodbye to my adopted hometown and the life I'd lived there before I recorded."
3. Asbury Park is a resort town in New Jersey that has gradually deteriorated. The summer romance and the images on the boardwalk struck a chord with just about anyone who grew up in New Jersey. The town provided the name for Springsteen's first album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
4. This evolved out of 2 songs that did not make Springsteen's first album: "Casper" and "Glory Road."
5. Springsteen whispered his vocal to create a sense of intimacy.
6. Regarding the lyrics, "Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do," Madam Marie was a real fortune teller on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. According to the Asbury Park Press, she was never arrested, but she was a fixture on the boardwalk. Legend has it that when Springsteen saw her, she told him he would be a success, and that Springsteen joked that she said that to all musicians. Madam Marie died on June 27, 2008 at age 93.
7. The choir is really one female singer with lots of overdubs. Springsteen wanted to use a children's choir, but ended up using Suki Lahav. She played with the band from September 1974 - March 1975, but was not credited on the album.
8. Springsteen is not from Asbury Park. He was born in Long Branch, New Jersey and raised in Freehold. Asbury Park is his "adopted" hometown, where he hung out and played.
9. The version included on the box set Live '75-'85 has some extra lyrics in the third verse.
10. The Hollies covered this in 1975 with its title shortened to "Sandy." It was the first song written by Springsteen to chart, hitting #85 in the US.
The "Live '75-'85" Version: