Saturday, June 1, 2013

Weather, Utah, and Springsteen's Promised Land

The cover of Bruce Springsteen's compilation album The Promise
was taken by photographer Eric Meola in Utah in 1977.
Columbia Records 
Bruce Springsteen hasn't written much about Utah, but it is featured prominently in The Promised Land on his album Darkness on the Edge of Town (even if there is no Waynesboro county in Utah).
On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert
I pick up my money and head back into town
Driving cross the Waynesboro county line
I got the radio on and I'm just killing time
Working all day in my daddy's garage
Driving all night, chasing some mirage
Pretty soon little girl I'm gonna take charge.

The dogs on main street howl,
'cause they understand,
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man,
And I believe in a promised land.

I've done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start

The dogs on main street howl,
'cause they understand,
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man,
And I believe in a promised land.

There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

The dogs on main street howl,
'cause they understand,
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man,
And I believe in a promised land
I believe in a promised land...
Peter Ames Carlin tells the story behind these lyrics and the photo on the 2010 compilation album The Promise in the 2012 Springsteen biography Bruce (p. 247), one of the better rock-related biographies that I've read.  Two days after hearing of Elvis' death, Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and Eric Meola flew to Salt Lake City and drove around non-stop for 30 hours on the desert backroads. At some point, a huge thunder and dust storm formed.  Meola called it a "Biblical storm" and it helped inspire a portion of the lyrics for The Promised Land.

I've been trying to figure out where the photo on the cover of The Promise was taken.  Comment if you have ideas.

6 comments:

  1. If they drove around that much, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it was taken in Nevada.

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  2. They did travel to Nevada, as documented in noted iconic non-weather related photos from the same trip at--Valmy Auto Court in Valmy, NV and Brenda's Cafe in Lovelock, NV. I do believe that this was in NV as well. Meola has put together some recent Bruce material that I believe identified this as being in Nevada. Bruce as well discussed the trip on various bootleg recordings in 1978, introducing the Promised Land by saying, "We drove through Utah, Me and Steve and couple of friends of ours," leaving no doubt the trip led to the setting of the song.

    Great blog, even for us flatlanders!

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  3. Charles you are more correct then a lot of people realize I used to drive semi on I 80 and use to pull off and I believe was near valmy nevada at an old store with the milkbox that's up by the front door I use to sit on that mil box and look up on the nevada skyline and there was a road behind the store where the mountains look the same then I use the walk made me wonder when I seen the promise weather this is actually the same road as it looks like the same mountains the gentleman in the store had a picture of bruce springsteen sitting on the snow box in front of the store I think you were closer to this mean you realize

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  4. excuse the AutoCorrect problems I'm not retyping this lol

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  5. Jim Tritt of TennesseeAugust 8, 2017 at 6:04 AM

    Tks :I'll have perfect hwy which I did couple weeks ago safer bet of travel for them since its approved by truckers and it starts along northern border Idaho. Hwy 30 goes into Nevada and please check out Montello

    ReplyDelete
  6. 2017 article in Salt Lake Tribune identifies where the photo was taken. Valley near the Humboldt Range in Nevada.

    http://www.sltrib.com/artsliving/music/2017/08/14/40-years-ago-bruce-springsteen-drove-through-the-utah-and-nevada-deserts-he-wrote-about-what-he-saw-in-one-of-his-masterpieces/

    ReplyDelete