Buried Treasure: Bruce Springsteen’s “Detroit Medley”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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Bruce Springsteen has been performing his roots-of-rock homage “Detroit Medley” for much of his career. In November of 1980, he treated the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland to a 10-and-a-half-minute version that may stand as his best effort. Or, as one commenter puts it, this “may be the best clip on YouTube.”

Last.fm blogger Mercuryblues gives the lowdown on the song’s origins:

Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels had a top 10 hit in the 60s with a single that combined the traditional blues song “CC Rider” with Little Richard’s “Jenny, Jenny” (aka “Jenny Take a Ride”). Wanting to repeat the formula, Ryder & the Detroit Wheels paired “Devil With The Blue Dress” — a hit for Shorty Long on Motown’s Soul label — with “Good Golly Miss Molly,” another Little Richard classic. They reached no. 4 in 1966, creating a sonic boom forever associated with Detroit. Bruce Springsteen most of the time uses all four songs for the “Detroit Medley.”

In Springsteen’s capable hands, the basic building blocks of rock and roll are enough to whip the crowd into a “whoo-whoo-ing” frenzy. The E Street Band’s “Detroit Medley” packs the same visceral wallop as a traditional set-closer like “Born To Run,” which you’d think would have the advantage, with its poignant lyrics and sophisticated chord structure.

What’s most impressive is the fact that Springsteen can still channel the same ferocious degree of energy in his stage shows today as he does here, nearly two decades ago.

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