Blinded By The Light: The Springsteen-Penned Manfred Mann Hit, Lyrics And Meaning

By Jacob Shelton
Left: Bruce Springsteen on August 22, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia. Right: single sleeve for Manfred Mann's 'Blinded By The Light.' Sources: Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage; Discogs.com

Between Bruce Springsteen's version and Manfred Mann's cover, is there a definitive "Blinded By The Light"? Springsteen's opening salvo into the world of rock n' roll, is everything that people love about the Boss' early work. The first track from his 1973 debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. is exploding with teenage lust, a need to escape, and the thrum of glistening cars speeding away from a small town.

The track's rambling sound and sometimes nonsensical lyrics led to the inevitable Bob Dylan comparisons. The song may not have been a hit for Springsteen but it set him up as the next big thing. Springsteen may not have had a hit with this song but it was a number one single four years later for Manfred Mann's Earth Band, albeit with altered lyrics and music that take the song out of the freewheelin' territory of Dylan and into the synthy blue eyed soul groove of artists like ELO and Elton John.

Springsteen fans tend to acknowledge that Mann worked some magic with Bruce's song -- they don't hate it, but they'd never say it's better than the original. But in the Darwinian world of classic-rock radio, Mann's version is an all-time staple, while Springsteen's doesn't get the spins.