Certain Songs #798: John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band – “On The Dark Side”

Album: Eddie & The Cruisers Soundtrack
Year: 1983

SOMETIME IN 1982

:: Phone rings ::

“Hello?”

“Bruce? Bruce Springsteen?”

“Um, yeah. How did you ge–”

“Hi, Mr. Springsteen, I’m an agent representing Joseph Brooks, a producer for Embassy Pictures.”

“Uh-huh…”

“So anyway Bruce — can I call you Bruce? — we’re doing a movie for Embassy pictures called Eddie & The Cruisers, and we were wondering if you’d like to do a song for the movie called ‘On The Dark Side,’ you see we already have the song title, so you don’t even have to worry about it, all you have to do is apply some of that Springsteen magic. We all love that Springsteen magic. Everybody loves that Springsteen magic. It’s … magical!”

“Wait. How did you ge–”

“So whaddya think Bruce? Are you ready to make some real money out here in Hollywood? It’s of course cool to have hit singles — I really loved that ‘Angry Heart’ song — and put out dark acoustic records for your art and everything, but Hollywoo–“

:: CLICK ::

I don’t know if the above conversation actually happened, but I guarantee you that the above conversation was thought about, and so when John Cafferty was offered the same deal — applying some of that Springsteen magic — for a song in film about a missing rock star or something (I’ll confess I’ve never seen Eddie & The Cruisers), how could he pass it up?

Anyways, “On The Dark Side” is the single most shameless Bruce Springsteen rip-off in history — and that includes Bruce Springstone’s “Flintstones Theme“, the Traveling Wilburys’ “Tweeter & The Monkey Man” and The Hold Steady’s hilarious cover of Dylan’s “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window” — and I love every single craven second of it.

From the piano / echo-y voice intro to the handclaps to goddamn sax solo, there isn’t anything in “On The Dark Side” that isn’t Bruce 101, and yet, when it was re-released as a single in the middle of Bruce’s Born in the U.S.A. single extravaganza, it made the top ten, because that’s how huge Bruce was at the time.

Maybe people thought that John Cafferty was a protege of Bruce’s, kinda like Rockwell was to Michael Jackson or Vanity was to Prince, or most likely, they didn’t care. The just loved the dramatic and buoyant sound of the song.

“On The Dark Side”

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One Response to “Certain Songs #798: John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band – “On The Dark Side””

  1. IOB says:

    I recall being blown away by the sequence in the movie where this song finally kicks in, and only later did it hit me how ridiculously out of place it was in a movie about an early ’60s rock icon.

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