Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. - Overview

Overview

Laurel Canyon Productions (Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos) signed a recording contract with CBS (“the CBS Agreement”) on June 9, 1972. Springsteen’s services were subcontracted to Columbia Records by Laurel Canyon (i.e. Bruce was not signed directly to CBS/Columbia). Laurel Canyon was to receive an immediate cash advance from CBS and this money was to be used to pay for the studio time at 914 Sound Studios to record the album. A delay by CBS in delivering the advance money to Laurel Canyon resulted in the band sessions at 914 not starting until late June, although Springsteen had cut four solo acoustic tracks at 914 ("Growin' Up", "Street Queen", "Arabian Nights" and "Lady And The Doctor") on June 7. During June Springsteen had finalized the selection of the musicians that would be used for the initial sessions at 914 Sound. The musicians chosen (with an ok from Appel-Cretecos) constituted the entire line-up of the former 'Bruce Springsteen Band' - David Sancious, Gary Tallent, Vini Lopez and Steve Van Zandt (Steve ended up partaking in almost none of the 914 Sound band sessions because of a prior commitment to tour as a member of The Dovells backing group)

Recording sessions for the Greetings album spanned a four-month period, from early June to late October 1972. All sessions took place at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York. The initial sessions at 914 Sound Studios involved the recording of the “band” material. Apparently Springsteen had pretty much decided what songs were going to be given a band arrangement before entering the studio. So the core “band” sessions were completed in only about two weeks. No unreleased band recordings from the debut album sessions have surfaced. Following these band sessions the various band members scattered (keeping in mind Bruce had not decided to form a touring band at this stage).

Springsteen spent the next few weeks recording solo material. It was during this period that differences of opinion surfaced about what material (band vs solo) was going to dominate the eventually released LP. There were two sides in this disagreement. Mike Appel and John Hammond wanted a solo-dominated album, while Springsteen and Jimmy Cretecos preferred a band-dominated album. During early August a compromise was reached and the album track selection was decided upon – featuring five band recordings ("Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?", "Growin’ Up", "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City", "For You" and "Lost In The Flood") and five solo recordings ("The Angel", "Mary Queen Of Arkansas", "Jazz Musician", "Arabian Nights" and "Visitation At Fort Horn"). On August 10, 1972 Laurel Canyon transferred the sound recording copyrights to these ten songs to CBS. So it seemed the album was finalized. However when then-CBS President Clive Davis listened to the ten tracks he commented that not only did he prefer the band tracks, but he also felt the album lacked a potential hit single. In essence Davis was siding with Springsteen’s vision of the album as being more rock-orientated.

In July 2012 a document in Springsteen's handwriting was listed on an auction site. Despite claims by the auctioneer that this document is a setlist, we feel it is more likely to be a list of songs that Springsteen was considering taking into the studio and recording for his next album, and is potentially from sometime around the summer of 1972. The songs listed are "Arabian Nights", "Mary Queen Of Arkansas" (crossed out), "Southern Sun", "Growin' Up", "Jesse", "Marie", "The Jazz Musician", "Street Queen" and "Mother". "Mother" is a song that is known from circa 1972 rough audio not in circulation, and was listed by Charles Cross in the second edition of Backstreets: The Man and His Music. It is not known if the song was ever finished. Another document surfaced in November 2013, listing twelve potential songs for Springsteen's first album. This document is believed to date from August 1972. These twelve songs are "Arabian Nights", "Henry Boy", "I Heard The Word" (a.k.a. "The Song"), "Mary Queen Of Arkansas" (apparently listed as an alternative to "I Heard The Word"), "Growin' Up", "Two Hearts In True Waltz Time", "Song To Orphans" (listed as an alternative to "Two Hearts In True Waltz Time"), "Lost In The Flood", "The Angel", "Bus Driver" ("Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street"), "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City" and "Visitation At Fort Horn".

In August Springsteen composed two more commercial-sounding songs, "Blinded By The Light" and "Spirit In The Night". Consequently a further “band” session was required. However both Sancious and Tallent, then-employed at Alpha Sound Studios in Richmond, were unable to return to New York to record. Bruce wished to incorporate saxophone in both new songs and contacted Clarence Clemons, a member of Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze at the time. So the studio session line-up for these two songs was Clemons, Lopez and Springsteen (who played all other instruments, except for the piano on "Blinded By The Light", which was handled by Harold Wheeler. "Blinded" and "Spirit" (as well as the only uncirculated track from the sessions, "The Chosen") were completed by early September. These two band recordings replaced the three solo recordings ("Visitation", "Arabian Nights" and "Jazz Musician") that had previously been shortlisted. Therefore the final album was reduced from ten tracks to nine, encompassing seven band tracks and two solo tracks. Columbia Records original intention was to release the album in late November 1972. However the company decided the album might get overlooked among the massive amount of pre-Christmas releases so the album was held back for until early January.

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