Life and career
Springsteen signed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1972, with the help of John Hammond, who had signed Bob Dylan to the same record label a decade earlier. Springsteen brought many of his New Jersey-based colleagues into the studio with him, thus forming the E Street Band (although it would not be formally named as such for a couple more years). His debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., released in January 1973, established him as a critical favorite, though sales were slow. Because of his lyrics-heavy, folk rock-rooted music exemplified on tracks like "Blinded by the Light" and "For You," as well as the Columbia and Hammond connections, critics initially compared Springsteen to Bob Dylan. "He sings with a freshness and urgency I haven't heard since I was rocked by 'Like a Rolling Stone'," wrote Crawdaddy magazine editor Peter Knobler in Springsteen's first interview/profile, in March, 1973. Crawdaddy "discovered" Springsteen in the rock press and was his earliest champion. Famed music critic Lester Bangs wrote in Creem, 1975, that when Springsteen's first album was released....."many of us dismissed it: he wrote like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, sang like Van Morrison and Robbie Robertson, and led a band that sounded like Van Morrison's." The track "Spirit in the Night" especially showed Morrison's influence, while with "Lost in the Flood" Springsteen presented the first of his many portraits of Vietnam veterans.