The E Street Shuffle

Album: The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973)
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Songfacts®:

  • The "E Street Shuffle" is a dance, but unlike many songs about dances, Springsteen doesn't explain how to do it. "I wanted to invent a dance with no exact steps," he said. "It was just the dance you did every day and every night to get by."
  • The name "E Street" was taken from the name of a road in Belmar, New Jersey, where the band's piano player, David Sancious, lived with his parents (he was still a teenager). Springsteen liked the sound of it, so he named the group the "E Street Band."

    Sancious left the band after this album to form the jazz group Tone with E Street drummer Earnest "Boom" Carter.
  • The music was based on "The Monkey Time," a 1963 hit for Chicago soul singer Major Lance.
  • This was the first track on Springsteen's second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, which made full use of the E Street Band for the first time. Members of the band played on his first album, but it was mostly Bruce and his guitar.
  • The characters in the lyrics (Little Angel, the Boy Prophets) were based on people Springsteen knew when he was growing up in New Jersey. He would often build character out of composites.
  • Springsteen played this pretty consistently from 1973-1975, but mothballed it until 2000, when it started showing up in setlists from time to time.
  • Bette Midler covered this on her 1980 album Divine Madness.

Comments: 7

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 19th 1974, Bruce and the band appeared in concert at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania...
    The band opened the concert with "The E-Street Shuffle" and this was the first public performances with new E-Streeters Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg.
  • Wesley from Albany, NyAmy, according to the official Bruce Springsteen website it is in fact "death in combat". It is on "The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle" page of Brucespringsteen.net
  • Guy from London, United StatesI was staying in Belmar during the Breeders Cup, and went to E Street. I asked a guy on the street about the exact house and he turned out to be the next door neighbour ho vowed to me that he used to hear the band play next door.
  • Amy from Pittsburgh, PaOn this site the lyrics are "deaf in combat down on lover's lane". On a lot of sites the lyrics are "death in combat...". I'm almost sure that the real lyrics are "deft in combat...". It does sound like Springsteen is saying "deaf" but "deft" makes infinitely more sense. Does anyone know for sure?
  • Barry from New York, NcAlthough this is an uptempo number on the record, and it debuted as one in concert (1973 to early 1974), Bruce played this in a slowed-down version from 1974-75. In it, he'd give the audience a fictionalized account of how he and Miami Steve met the Big Man Clarence Clemmons.
  • Laura Schneider from Eatontown, NjMaybe there is an E Street in Freehold, but the one the SONG is about is in Belmar. That's a widely-known fact.
  • Evan from Freehold, NjE Street is actually in freehold NJ
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