At the time, Spring­steen des­per­ate­ly need­ed a break. Despite vig­or­ous pro­mo­tion by Colum­bia Records, his first two albums, Greet­ings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, The Inno­cent, and the E Street Shuf­fle, had been com­mer­cial flops. Though his band spent vir­tu­al­ly every wak­ing hour either in the record­ing stu­dio or on tour, their road earn­ings were bare­ly enough to live on.