I wish I could say I hung out in Asbury Park, NJ, and saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band jam in clubs. Alas, my family went to Ocean City, NJ (no clubs) and I was underage at that time anyway.
However, I watched a nifty documentary - The Promise: Making of the Darkness at the Edge of Town, and gained insight into Springsteen's (and the band's) work ethic, creativity, and energy. There's a lot of footage of Bruce pouring over his notebooks filled with songs and iterations of songs. The band all hung out and played riffs over and over and over again. They truly sought perfection.
Interviews with Jon Landau and Jimmy Iovine showed these young gun music producers/directors and the vested interest they had in raw talent. Hot off Born to Run, Springsteen didn't want to capitalize and go for easy. Instead, he was looking deeper into life themes such as questioning "What makes a man?" He wrote for the common American, the factory worker, and the blue collar life. Ultimately the songs for Darkness at the Edge of Town were only the beginning of Springsteen's continuous connection with his roots.
The documentary includes interviews with Bruce now, reflecting on those times and what he wanted to achieve. The man discusses his artistic instinct from that time versus artistic intelligence which comes from experience. He trusted his instinct to reject so many great songs and create a brilliant cohesive whole.
Worth pondering. I recommend the documentary, just to watch an artist at work, uncompromising and true.