Presented by Judicial Crisis Network: Chris Cuomo; Harris and Banks; the Bottom Line

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Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Forty-four years ago today, Bruce Springsteen and the members of his E Street Band awoke knowing they had really put it all together this time. The night before they had played the first gig in a demanding five-night run -- two shows per night -- at a Greenwich Village nightclub called The Bottom Line.

The band opened with “For You,” a hit from their first album, following it with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” a cut off their new record. In the middle of the set, they played two more songs from that new album, “Thunder Road” and album’s title track, “Born to Run.” I don’t think it’s too much to say that rock ’n’ roll was never the same again.

In a moment, I’ll offer an additional thought on Bruce Springsteen and the nightclub that gave him and his bandmates a historic boost. First, I’d steer you to  RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

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Chris Cuomo and Self-Ownership. In a column, I consider the CNN anchor’s dust-up with a heckler, which may have proved his tormentor’s point.

Harris’ Silence on Diverted Funds Rankles Housing Advocates. Susan Crabtree reports on the presidential candidate’s claims of standing up to big banks while California attorney general, which critics see differently.

China Trade Policy Needs Rethinking. In RealClearPolicy, Brian McNicholl argues that the president’s stance on Huawei is too broad.

Stock Markets Keep Voting Against Trump’s Protectionism. In RealClearMarkets, Allan Golombek cites evidence that the trade war with China is hurting the U.S. economy even more than had been generally predicted.

A Patient-Centered Reform Solution. In RealClearHealth, David Wilson and David Hoppe laud several Georgia proposals.

3 Keys Books Shaped Our Understanding of Appeasement. In RealClearHistory, John P. Rossi spotlights works on the blunders of British diplomacy in the 1930s.

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From the beginning, Bruce Springsteen’s music and his persona engendered passion among rock aficionados -- and no small amount of hype. In the early 1970s, his record label proclaimed him the next Bob Dylan and in May of 1974, after seeing Springsteen open for Bonnie Raitt, young music writer Jon Landau proclaimed him the future of rock ’n’ roll.

But Springsteen's first two albums, “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” and “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle,” were only modest commercial successes, as they had trouble getting the radio airtime that record company executives knew was essential.

Columbia Records had high hopes for “Born to Run,” and the label had partially papered the house at The Bottom Line with critics, celebs and influencers. It was a smart strategy, but it only worked because Bruce delivered the goods.

“The raw power was unbelievable,” recalled Stanley Snadowsky, one of the club’s proprietors. “He climbed on the building’s poles, the piano, the tables. He was so exposed in such a reckless way, everyone felt it.”

Two months later, Springsteen would appear simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek, a distinction normally reserved for U.S. presidents. Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh marveled at how Springsteen had vaulted “visibly and rapidly from cult fanaticism to mass acceptance” as a result of his shows at The Bottom Line.

That’s my cue to point out that genius or no, it takes a village to put on a successful rock concert, just like it does to put on a successful Broadway show (something Springsteen has also done). In this case, the midwives were not just his bandmates and the sound guys, and the gaffers and everyone else, it was also Stanley Snadowsky and Allan Pepper, the two friends and business partners who owned The Bottom Line.

The fellow Brooklynites had known each other since the third grade. Sharing eclectic tastes in music, they bought a struggling jazz club called the Red Garter on West 4th Street between Mercer and Greene streets and renamed it The Bottom Line. The place had seating for 400 and a great location, and was a popular music spot for nearly three decades after its Feb. 12, 1974 opening. That night, Dr. John, Stevie Wonder, and Johnny Winter all played; Mick Jagger and Carly Simon took in the scene from their table. In the ensuing years, jazzmen such as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie returned to grace the stage. Country star Dolly Parton played there. So did folk singers Joan Baez and Harry Chapin, sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, and Tito Puente -- the “king of Latin music.” The Police, the Cars, Prince, Billy Joel, and Todd Rundgren performed at The Bottom Line. Lou Reed recorded a live album there.

Eventually, all things come to an end, I suppose (although Springsteen is still going strong), and in 2004 the economics of a mid-sized music venue in a city with sky-high real estate prices overtook Snadowsky and Pepper. Bruce offered a hundred grand to pay the back rent they owed, but it was time to turn the page and they did.

The last I heard, Allan Pepper was living in a New Jersey retirement home. Stanley Snadowsky, an attorney who had managed the band Kiss and done some legal work for the group, moved out West. He died six years ago in Las Vegas of complications from diabetes. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he went peacefully, surrounded by his family, as one of his favorite albums, Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell,” played on the stereo. 

Carl M. Cannon  
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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