Blinded By The Light by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (Warner Bros, 1977)

It’s deuce, not douche…revved up like a deuce, not wrapped up like a douche, whatever the hell that means. Just wanted to get that out of the way. Yeah, neither makes any sense. And actually that’s not what songwriter Bruce Springsteen wrote originally. It was ‘cut loose like a deuce’, which was his fancy way of saying ‘dumped’, I guess. It’s very hard to know exactly what the hell Bruce is talking about and Manfred Mann doesn’t help by changing some the lyrics. And depending on who you trust, no one is exactly sure what he changed them to.

Either way, Manfred Mann’s new band, Earth Band, took this cover to #1 in February of 1977. It makes absolute sense that they would ‘discover’ Bruce and cover his song because of Mann’s long fascination with Bob Dylan. And critic’s assessment that Springsteen was the new Dylan was actually fairly accurate. They both wrote rambling songs about nothing, but made them sound like they were about something. [That would have made Seinfeld the new Dylan around 1991.]

I’m sure Bruce was very grateful that Mann covered his tunes. [They also had a #40 hit with Spirit In The Night.] And was probably ecstatic when it hit #1. To this day no other Springsteen-penned song ever hit the top of the charts. Springsteen was embroiled in legal issues from 1976-1978, which kept him from releasing new material and killed the momentum he built with the Born To Run LP. Blinded by The Light’s success kept him relevant and able to financially keep going. It remains a classic rock staple even as the 7 minute version.

Now back to the lyrics. If I was to attempt to decipher them, I would guess it’s a song about a musician looking to become successful and watching younger no-talent hacks have an easier road to stardom, blinded by the light of fame. Or maybe I’m trying too make too much sense of a line like:

And little Early-Pearly came by in his curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride.

Although my favorite couplet would have to be:

Some silicone sister with her manager mister told me I got what it takes
She said I’ll turn you on sonny, to something strong.
Play that song with the funky break.

I got a feeling they had a special sale on rhyming dictionaries down in Asbury Park around 1972.

As a kid though I went with it, never questioning the lyrics’ meaning, obliviously singing about a douche that someone wrapped up, playing in the early Saturday Spring sun while Manfred slid up that note on his Moog until it squiggled like a runner in the night.

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2 Comments

  1. I was 14 years old when I first heard “Blinded By the Light” and heard what everybody else seems to back then. And yes, it made me laugh. Anyway, “revved up like a deuce” refers to a hot rod car, which makes sense when coupled with “another runner in the night” since that would indicate that somebody is having a drag race.

    I once read that the song was a series of random images that Springsteen remembered about the area of New Jersey where he grew up (“Indians in the Summer” was his baseball team, the “silicone sister with a manager mister” was one of the hookers working in Seaside Heights, and evidently “Early Pearlie” piloted a helicopter).

    For what it’s worth, I always heard that “Early Pearlie” line as “Little Early Birdie kept my anus curly-whirly” until I actually read the lyrics that accompanied the “Roaring Silence” LP. That made absolutely no sense the way I first interpreted it.

    One other thing I really like about in the song is the way a second voice comes in and repeats the lines (Manfred Mann does that in the video here but I believe it was Chris Slade on the record). In the extended version of the song, a few lines are included that Chris Thompson left out during his reading of the lyrics.

    Reply
    • Tuan Nguyen

       /  July 12, 2012

      Please explain this song to me. I listened to it for 30 plus year (at least 5,000 times) and still don’t understand it.

      Reply

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