Henry Boy


Note: "Henry Boy" was recorded as a demo at MediaSound Studios, 311 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 in June 1972. It has been described as an "early version of what would evolve into 'Blinded By The Light'", which would explain why it vanished after being played live in August 1972, while 'Blinded By the Light' was composed and recorded in record time on September 11, 1972, then released on 'Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey', and became the first single from the album. 'Henry Boy' was officially released on September 23, 2016 in the album "Chapter and Verse", the companion to Springsteen's autobiography "Born To Run". It was dated only as "June 1972" in the liner notes, suggesting the studio logs from the time are not complete, which is a well known fact. Possibly of greater interest are the live shows in August 1972 described below. These shows were performed just after Bruce thought he was done recording 'Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey', only to be informed by Clive Davis, president of Columbia Records, that the album submitted was not acceptable to Columbia, mainly because there was no "single material" that could be released to generate radio airplay. As he recounted in "Songs", Bruce took this to heart, and without delay, composed "Spirit In the Night" and "Blinded By the Light", recording both on September 11, 1972, much to the satisfaction of his record label, who were pleased with the songs, and even more by their new artists' response to their implied request. Unnoticed was "Henry Boy", which garnered respectable attention during the August Max's Kansas City residency, but was never played again. Perhaps Bruce used most of the song in creating 'Blinded By the Light', just like he did with 'Walking In the Street' when creating 'Thunder Road'.

A video of "Henry Boy", filmed in August 1972 at Max’s Kansas City, is in circulation. Springsteen introduces the song as, "a song about being new in town. Now everybody's been new in town, once, or twice. And uh… that's what this next song's about, I think." Very brief audio-video excerpts of both "Henry Boy" and "Growin' Up" from one of the twelve shows during this August 1972 Max's residency first surfaced in a 1990 documentary about John Hammond called From Bessie Smith To Bruce Springsteen. The complete audio-video of both songs has since leaked out and is circulating among collectors. These complete takes represent what was originally supplied to the Hammond film producers by CBS. The producers were only allowed to use brief excerpts of the two songs in the documentary and were not supplied any footage of the rest of the show. The remainder of the show (probably only a couple of songs, for a total of around thirty minutes) exists in CBS's vault but has never circulated. Definitely one, probably two, and possibly several of Bruce's shows during this residency were audio and video recorded in their entirety, utilizing Max's (crude by today's standards) in-house video camera. It is believed the recording was carried out at the behest of Columbia, who wanted footage of Bruce for potential promotional use.

Please check the Brucebase live accounts from August 10, 1972 and August 14, 1972, for information on "Henry Boy", and the film work done at Max's Kansas City in New York. Be sure to click on the "Recording" tab on each gig page for important additional information.

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