Monday, September 8, 2008

Boot Tracker, On The Tracks; May 9th 1974, Cambridge (E. St. Records)

With the Magic tour behind us, I decided to try and revamp the Boot Tracker a little by combining it with the On The Tracks feature for fan stories. One of the reasons I like to browse the message boards are the stories that find their way there from time to time. Those first shows people have seen and the impression it left, lucky encounters with the man himself or just plain fan boy craziness. Like this first contribution by Brian Hawkins, first posted on BTX. Brian picks an especially historic show, the one where Springsteen met Landau. The best thing is, that May 9th 1974 show was captured and still available on a very nice tape that carries over the show that made Landau fall in love with R&R again quite nicely.

Got up to Boston a day early for the Foxboro Magic show, so I could see some of the city and soak up some history. And while I did indeed savor the Paul Revere house, the Old North Church, and Samuel Adams’ burial site, it turned out that Boston is also a cradle of Bruce history… and an adventure awaited! Pondering all things Bruce that morning, I suddenly realized that my Cambridge hotel was very close to the sacred ground of Harvard Square...particularly the Harvard Square Theater...the very spot where Rock and Roll saw its future in Bruce Springsteen so eloquently captured by Jon Landau. I set out on my pilgrimage and with a few quick stops on the T train, I rose from the subway. Feeling like something magical was about to happen, my eyes recognized the Church Street sign and I knew I was approaching hallowed ground: not only the site of the blistering life-altering 5/9/74 show, but the very pavement where a young wiry Bruce Springsteen and a doughy, be speckled Jon Landau had their first fateful meeting.

Landau has often said in interviews that he saw Bruce reading “a favorable review” of the Wild and the Innocent album that he had written that was strategically posted on the window of the theater. They chatted and Landau has recalled Bruce saying how much he enjoyed the review. However, Bruce has since said that he thought it was only “pretty good." Like any new relationship, we can see that with those comments, one was enamored and one was more cautious. Thus begins 30-year dance of awkward miscommunication and compromises between Bruce and Landau that would some day culminate in Secret Garden being released both with and without strings. We all know the rest of the story...the bond, the friendship, the love, etc. that developed from those two crossed wires crackling over the course of 30+ years.

As I stood on the sidewalk, my head was dizzy with 1974 images and figures (converse sneakers, floppy hats, bell-bottoms, tube tops, etc.). Needless to say, I was taking it all in as I walked up to the box office window. I literally felt as if I was back in time as my steps took me down the sidewalk to what appeared to be formerly stage doors. We viewed the top of the theater in a sky that was so blue and speculated that one end must have been the stage area given its distinct elevation. We walked to that end of the theater and witnessed another set of apparent stage doors and a ramp that led down into another set, imaging this area could have been where the trucks parked, groupies milled, and hundreds of fans anxiously anticipated the bounty of a searing Springsteen show that could not possibly include Bobby Jean. It was almost like we felt those kindred spirits of that show with us as we gazed upon this site...This sacred site. How could this get better?

Then I saw it. Treasure!!! Piled high by the same stage door where Bruce tuned his guitar, Mike Appel greedily counted up proceeds, and Clarence cleaned his spit valve all those years ago, there they were: dozens of old vintage upholstered theatre seats! The very seats where the nubile Harvard co-eds of 1974 writhed with pleasure to the strains of Kitty’s Back. Seats stained with Tab spilled in exhilaration as Bruce kicked into Rosalita. Seats pockmarked with long-discarded plugs of Juicy Fruit that may or may not have been nervously chewed by Landau (DNA tests pending) as he planned his overthrow of Appel. Seats that still held within them the energy and power of those epic concerts from another time. I had to have two of them (see below pictures). I’m contemplating what I should do with them now? Build an encased shrine with special lighting in my house or just leave them in the garage.

I Sold My Heart To The Junk Man

MP3 File

Download the full show here.
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Recording: 3+ out of 5
Show: 4 out of 5
Artwork: 2 out of 5


Anonymous said...

I think you may have your facts wrong. I am pretty that conversation on the street took place a month earlier when bruce did a week of shows at Charlie's Place on Bow Street (#2 i think) and i believe is now a Dunkin Donuts or something. There was a review from The Boston Phoenix posted in Charlies Window that bruce was reading when Landau approached him. I was at one of those shows so i remember it well. The review can be found here: if you want more infor email me at

SoulBoogieAlex said...

Interesting, BruceBase seems to be a bit conflicting on this one. On the May 9th show BB has this to say:

"Critic Jon Landau's much-quoted "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen" line emanates from this night."

However April 10th is the moment BB identifies as the first time Landau met Bruce outside the venue.

Did Landau meet Bruce a month prior to reviewing one of his shows?