“Blinded by the Light” was a perplexing piece of pop music. Despite the song’s surreal refrains, or maybe because of them, it achieved anthem-level notoriety in 1976, popular among both hipster children and stoned adults alike. It didn’t matter that no one knew what the singer was actually saying — “wrapped up like a douche?” Did he really say “douche?” — and yet, there it was: a number one hit.
Of course, those weren’t the words. Correct answer: “revved up a like a deuce.” We have mumbly singer Chris Thompson to thank for the misperception.
Here’s the real stinger: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band neither wrote this memorable tune nor stuck to its original lyrics. The composer? If you don’t know, you’ll never guess because it’s Bruce Springsteen. And the correct line? “Cut loose like a deuce.” Still not sure what it is to cut loose or rev a deuce. Perhaps that’s a car thing?
But all criticisms of accuracy and annoyance aside, whenever this song came on the radio I turned it up. And not to revel in lyricus absurdum. I was struck dreamy-eared over the glorious synthesizers.
The Earth Band had a jazz pianist at its helm, a fellow from South Africa named Manfred Lubowitz. Distaste for Apartheid pushed the young pianist out the door and off to London where he became immersed in the British jazz scene. Once there, he fashioned the moniker Manfred Mann(e) in honor of drummer Shelly Manne. When the Earth Band finally got rolling in the late 60’s, Lubowitz opted not to sing. Instead, he focused on the high art of prog rock keyboarding — long synth solos and groovy sound effects with his MiniMoog.
Their mega hit was never equaled, but MMEB is still around, confusing a whole new generation of listeners with those confounded lyrics: Manfred Mann, winner of my cool-dude-of-the-day award.
I leave you with more poetry from this bizarre tune. Still not sure where to draw the line between The Boss and The Mann:
Some brimstone baritone anticyclone
rolling stone preacher from the east
Says, “Dethrone the dictaphone, hit it in it’s funny bone,
that’s where they expect it least”
And some new-mown chaperone was standin’ in the corner,
watching the young girls dance
And some fresh-sown moonstone was messin’ with his frozen zone,
reminding him of romance