Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

Written and first recorded by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (1973).
Hit version (as “Sandy”) by The Hollies (US #85/GER #22/NZ #12/NETH #9 1975).

From the wiki: “‘4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)’, often known just as ‘Sandy’, was written in 1973 by Bruce Springsteen and first appeared as the second song on the album The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle. Van Morrison’s influence can be heard in Springsteen’s songwriting about his hometown, closely paralleling Morrison’s romanticism of his hometown, Belfast, Ireland.

“No singles were released from The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle … except in Germany – the first-ever Springsteen 7-inch issued outside the United States – where Springsteen’s ‘Sandy’ met with no apparent chart success.

“However, ‘Sandy’ became the first song written by Springsteen to chart, anywhere, when The Hollies’ cover version, released in April 1975, hit #85 in the US, and charted higher in a few other international markets (e.g. Top-10 in the Netherlands). While not a big hit unto itself, The Hollies’ use of “Sandy” presaged other artists mining the early Springsteen songbook for material, a notion that would soon be exploited to much greater commercial success by Manfred Mann and others.

“The Hollies’ Allan Clarke was one of the first acts in Britain to champion the work of Bruce Springsteen, and was the first ever to release a Springsteen cover (‘Born to Run’, 1975, with Springsteen’s name misspelled on the label credit). The Hollies as a group covered ‘Sandy’ in 1975 for the album Another Night, a shorter version that left out half the original lyrics (including the complete middle verse). The arrangement differed, too, with the choruses featuring the trademarked Hollies harmonies. Clarke recalls that Springsteen came to see The Hollies when they later played at The Bottom Line in New York City, and went out on the town with them later that night. ‘He wanted to thank us for recording some of his songs, and he said he’d come to see us when he played in England — but it was about another twenty years before I saw him again!’

“Clarke, too, may have been inadvertently responsible for Springsteen becoming a US #1 hit songwriter: Clarke released a solo album, I’ve Got Time, in 1976 that included his cover of ‘Blinded By the Light‘. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was also covering the song for their next album. According to Clarke, his ‘record company did not agree that ‘Blinded By The Light’ was the kind of material that would be played on the radio.’ Band leader Manfred Mann was a neighbor of Clark’s in London; Clarke informed Mann that he was not going to release ‘Blinded By the Light’ as a single but thought the song had great potential. As a result, ‘Blinded’ soon thereafter became the second promotional single from Manfred Mann’s The Roaring Silence album. The single reached reached #1 on both Billboard’s Hot 100 and on the Canadian RPM chart in February 1977.

“About the song’s origin, Springsteen recalls ‘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),’ a goodbye to my adopted hometown and the life I’d lived there before I recorded. Sandy was a composite of some of the girls I’d known along the Shore. 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.’

“Trivia: Paul Stanley states the Hollies’ version of ‘Sandy’ inspired the KISS song ‘Shandi’.

“More trivia: Regarding the lyric ‘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, NJ. According to the Asbury Park Press, Madam Marie 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.”

The Hollies, “Sandy” (1975):

Allan Clarke, “Born to Run” (1975):

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