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The title came from a 1973 movie of the same name starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Springsteen got the idea from a poster in the theater lobby. Springsteen did not see the movie until after he wrote this. When he did see the film, he based the song "Nebraska" on it.
This was more mature songwriting from Springsteen, as much of Darkness On The Edge Of Town reflects the characters of his previous album, Born To Run, getting older and more pessimistic.
"Badlands" was considered for the name of the album. Around this time, Springsteen would come up with titles and try to come up with deserving songs for them. He told Rolling Stone in 2010: "Badlands, that's a great title, but It would be easy to blow it. But I kept writing and I kept writing and I kept writing and writing until I had a song that I felt deserved that title."
This is a concert favorite. It was featured on Springsteen's 1999 reunion tour with The E Street Band, and on many of their subsequent tours.
Badlands is a US national park in South Dakota. It is famous for striking scenery and expansive prairie land.
The second single off Darkness On The Edge Of Town, the first album Springsteen released after a legal battle with his first manager, Mike Appel, kept him from recording for almost 3 years.
The version on Live 1975-1985 was recorded in Arizona the night after Ronald Reagan was elected president. Bruce introduced the song by saying: "I don't know what you guys thought of what happened last night, but I thought it was pretty terrifying." Reagan would later misinterpret "Born In The U.S.A." in a 1984 campaign speech.
Bill Murray and Paul Shaffer chose to open the 25th Anniversary Show of Saturday Night Live with this song, as sung by Murray's character of Nick the Lounge Singer. According to the book Live From New York, they chose this song because Murray and Shaffer felt that there was a certain lyric in the song that best described their experience of growing up in life and in show business on Saturday Night Live in the '70s. Murray was quoted as saying performing the harmony with Paul was one of the high points of his entire career. (thanks, Joshua - Fort Worth, TX)
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