Blinded By the Light is a mainstay of classic rock. In fact, the song is so well-known that it lent the title to a 2019 movie.
But who wrote it, and are the lyrics saying what you think they’re saying?
We’ll walk you through the most famous renditions of the song and clear up that lyrics issue.
About the Song ‘Blinded By The Light’
Blinded By the Light was written quickly and with the help of a rhyming dictionary. Some of the lyrics sound good together but don’t really have a lot of meaning. “Some fresh-sown moonstone was messin’ with his frozen zone,’ for instance, is probably just wordplay.
A lot of the images do evoke a carnival setting. There’s also a warning from the singer’s mother about not looking into the sun. If there’s a deeper meaning here, it seems to be a warning not to be sucked in by illusions.
When British band Mannfred Mann did a cover of ‘Blinded By the Light, they unintentionally added a new twist to the song. And it’s certainly the part people remember most!
The line “revved up like a Deuce” refers to a Ford Coupe model. In Mannfred Mann’s cover, it sounds more like “wrapped up like a douche.” It’s certainly something people would and do talk about! Manfred Mann swears it wasn’t intentional and blames their recording gear.
Who Originally Wrote and Sang ‘Blinded By The Light?’
Bruce Springsteen wrote and recorded Blinded By the Light first. It was on his very first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, which was released in 1973.
Springsteen was an up-and-coming singer-songwriter known for writing about the struggles of the working class in New Jersey. He played a lot of local live shows, and people were starting to take notice of his smart songwriting, high energy, and rough voice.
He got a recording contract and made what would be Greetings From Asbury Park. Some songs were stripped down, bare-bones acoustic versions that let his poetry shine. Other songs featured backing musicians, including some that would be in Springsteen’s famous E-Street Band.
As soon as he turned the album in, the label president rejected it, saying it needed a hit. That’s when Springsteen grabbed the rhyming dictionary and turned out Blinded By the Light. For a meticulous perfectionist like Bruce, it’s doubly impressive that he could do that!
He also wrote Spirit in the Night in that session, which Mannfred Mann covered later as well.
Bruce has come a long way from Asbury Park. He’s now released 20 albums and numerous other songs on soundtracks and compilations. His song “Streets of Philadelphia” won an Oscar for being the best original song in a movie (Tom Hanks’ Philadelphia.)
He and his E-Street band are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And Springsteen even received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidental Medal of Freedom.
Now in his 70’s, Bruce hasn’t missed a beat. He’s still playing live shows, just completed a one-man Broadway show, and has a memoir in the works. He plans to tour again in 2022.
Bruce Springsteen’s Most Well-Known Songs
Born to Run
This single was absolutely Bruce’s breakout hit, and his album of the same name also rose to fame quickly.
Released in 1975, two years after Blinded by the Light, Born to Run introduced listeners to Springsteen’s realm where men drive fast and lust hard. The energy is incredible, all the instruments working to propel the song forward as Springsteen’s half-mumbled lyrics build momentum.
Nearly 50 years later, he performs this at almost every show!
I’m On Fire
I’m on Fire is a top-ten hit from Born in the U.S.A. This classic is a steamy slow-burn about a man consumed with lust. The arrangement and lyrics don’t go overboard trying to be sexy, which really works here. Plus, Springsteen’s voice is plenty sexy on its own!
Many artists over the years have covered the song including Tori Amos, Johnny Cash, and Bat for Lashes.
Born in the U.S.A.
This was the title track to his 1984 album. It went to #9 on the Billboard charts and holds the dubious honor of being one of the most misunderstood songs. Many listeners assume the song is patriotic, even hopeful.
But if you pay any attention to the lyrics, you’ll see that’s not the case. The song concerns a man who was drafted to fight in Vietnam, only to return stateside and struggle to get a job or veterans benefits.
Rather than bragging about being born in the U.S.A., the speaker is wondering why this country he fought for is treating him so terribly.
Is the Movie ‘Blinded By The Light’ a True Story?
Blinded By the Light is also the title of a 2019 movie based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s autobiographical novel, Greetings From Bury Park.
Manzoor’s book details his own coming of age and finding inspiration from Springsteen’s music to start writing. Like Springsteen’s lyrics, the novel features scenes that are strictly true alongside fictionalized passages. Manzoor also stays true to the spirit of his experiences, even if the details are very different.
Manzoor co-wrote the movie adaptation, along with director Gurinder Chadha. Springsteen loved the novel and met with Manzoor, allowing him to use his music in the film.
Both critics and audiences alike raved about Blinded By the Light, giving it an impressive 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Did Bruce Springsteen Sell ‘Blinded By The Light?’
Yes, along with all of his other songs. Springsteen recently sold the masters and rights to his catalog to Sony for an amazing $500 million.
From the Muse: Find out why musicians sell their work.
Of Dreams and Inspiration
Most people know the infamous Mannfred Mann version of Blinded By the Light. It’s a fun interpretation, but it’s worth going back to hear the original.
Springsteen frantically paging through a rhyming dictionary because he needed a hit asap speaks to his dedication. And, while it wasn’t the huge hit he hoped for at the time, Blinded By the Light definitely inspired other rock bands plus a certain novelist. We’re guessing Bruce didn’t dare to dream that back in 1973.
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Saturday 8th of January 2022
[…] we have Blinded By The Light, performed by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. At the halfway point in the film, a critical turning […]