‘Garden State Parkway Blues,’ Steel Mill

The logo for Bruce Springsteen's pre-E Street Band group, Steel Mill.

The logo for Bruce Springsteen’s pre-E Street Band group, Steel Mill.

Before there was the E Street Band, there was Steel Mill. And Bruce Springsteen was writing about New Jersey roads, even then.

“Garden State Parkway Blues,” an early Springsteen epic, was performed at least six times by Steel Mill in 1969 and 1970. The band’s lineup for the performance below, at Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) in West Long Branch in April 1970, featured Springsteen (on guitar and vocals) and future E Streeter Danny Federici (on organ), Vini Lopez (on drums) and Steven Van Zandt (on bass).

Whereas on Springsteen’s most famous song, “Born to Run,” the highway represents an escape, here’s it’s just another part of the trap.

“I got the Garden State Parkway Blues,” he sings. “Early in the morning, hits you without warning/Going to the job, fighting off the road hogs/Punch in at 9, punch out at 5.”

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.

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