It’s rare for a cover of a song to top the original, but the cover of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “Blinded by the Light” is an exception. The song was originally written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen for his 1973 album, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ Three years later, British rock band Manfred Mann’s Earth Band released their cover as the opening track of their 1976 album, The Roaring Silence. “Blinded by the Light” was a huge hit for the band, leading to their breakthrough in the US
Getting ahead of a master songwriter like Springsteen is an incredible musical achievement, and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band managed to do just that. In fact, their cover became Springsteen’s first and only songwriting credit to hit No. 1.
“Blinded by the Light” is an energetic track that matches the thrill of adolescence. The song is filled with the invincibility of youth and the hopeful perspective that anything is possible. The lyrics hark back to Springsteen’s early days as a musician with a handful of quirky characters he encountered in theaters.
A silicone sister with a gentleman manager
Told me I had what it takes
She said, “I’ll turn you on, son, to something strong
Play the song with the funky break »
However, on the roller coaster of being a young musician, the “lows” are just as prevalent as the “highs.” The lyrics also allude to the downsides of always being on the move and struggling to get to the top.
With a rock on my shoulder I feel a little older
I tripped the carousel
With that very unpleasant, sneezing and wheezing
The calliope crashed to the ground!
Putting their own spin on “Blinded by the Light,” Manfred Mann’s Earth Band altered some of Springsteen’s original lyrics. The most recognizable part of the song, Blinded by the light / Revved like a Deuce / Another runner in the night, was initially, Break loose like a Deuce / Another runner in the night.
Even though this chorus is the most iconic part of the song, it’s also notoriously misheard by fans. In the cover, Revved like a Deuce very similar Wrapped up like an asshole.
In 2005, Springsteen himself commented on this amusing error. “Deuce was like a Little Deuce coupe, like in a 2-seater Hot Rod. Douching is a feminine hygiene procedure. But what can I say, the audience has spoken,” he joked.
Manfred Mann’s version of the song is seven minutes long, compared to Springsteen’s original five-minute version. The band added several unique instrumentals with standout guitar solos, piano riffs, and most notably, “Chopsticks.”
If you’ve ever taken piano lessons, “Chopsticks” is probably a familiar tune. It can be played with just two fingers, and the harmony makes the simple song fun to learn.
When the band recorded “Blinded by the Light”, they knew they had to pull out all the stops to make it a hit. While playing in the studio, they got stuck trying to transition between the chorus and the verses.
Mann, the band’s frontman, recalled their decision to include “Chopsticks” in the final track. “When we finally finished the track for the album, I thought it had a great vibe, but the next question was how to fit that into a single. The real problem was how to go from chorus to smooth verse. I just couldn’t find a way to do it,” he said. “And then — and that’s why you have to be in a band — our drummer Chris Slade said, ‘Play chopsticks on it.” “
Mann was skeptical of the idea and repeatedly dismissed it. But when Slade kept insisting, they tried. It worked surprisingly well. “I suddenly realized he wasn’t hearing Chopsticks himself, just the chords, which fit together perfectly,” he admitted.
What makes a good cover?
Manfred Mann’s cover of “Blinded by the Light” is just as famous as the original song, if not more so. Although the band used their own sound and style to make it their own, they always kept Springsteen’s vision at heart. Both songs have the same lyrics, melody and rock and roll sound. Either way, Springsteen and Manfred Mann each have distinct vocals and extremely talented bands, which makes the two versions of the song totally unique.
“Blinded by the Light” is proof that the perfect cover is an equal mix of creativity and respect for the main text.
Listen to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s “Blinded by the Light” below.
Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images