Tuesday, August 26, 1975

Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” released on Born to Run

8/26/1975:
First posted 1/26/2020.

Thunder Road

Bruce Springsteen

Writer(s): Bruce Springsteen (see lyrics here)


Released: August 26, 1975 (album cut from Born to Run)


First Charted: --


Peak: -- (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 5.2 video, -- streaming

Awards (Springsteen):


Awards (Melissa Etheridge, unplugged):

Review:

It was never released as a single, but “Thunder Road,” the opening cut on Bruce Springsteen’s third album, Born to Run, has become one of his most loved songs. It started out in 1972 as “Angelina” and re-emerged in October 1974 later as “Chrissie’s Song.” Over the next three months, Springsteen combined that and lyrics from “Walking in the Street” to create a new song. WK The title, “Thunder Road,” was inspired by a poster of the 1958 Robert Mitchum film of the same name, although Springsteen didn’t see the movie. SF

In his autobiography, Springsteen said he envisioned the Born to Run album as a collection of vignettes following its character throughout the day. “Thunder Road” opens the album with a harmonica that suggested the beginning of the new day and invited listeners to the album. WK Vocally, Springsteen was inspired by Roy Orbison, who he references in the line “the radio plays Roy Orbison singing for the lonely.” SF The lyrics discuss Mary and her boyfriend and their “one last chance to make it real.” WK

In 2003, Q magazine ranked the song #226 on its list of the “1001 Greatest Songs Ever.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked it one of the top 100 songs of all time in 2004. That same year, WXPN, the University of Pennyslvania’s public radio station, ranked it #1 on their list of all-time greatest songs. WK

Springsteen wrote “The Promise” as a sequel to “Thunder Road.” It was performed during his 1978 tour, but didn’t see release until 1999 when a re-recorded version appeard on 18 Tracks and then again in 2010 on the album The Promsie, which was a collection of unreleased material from the Darkness on the Edge of Town era (1977-78).

In 1995, Melissa Etheridge brought Bruce Springsteen out as a surprise guest for her Unplugged special after telling the audience a story about how much he inspired her. She has cited her performance with Springsteen as the highlight of her career. RS They had to start the performance a second time because she was so nervous she flubbed the words on the first run-through. RS It was taped February 2, 1995, and aired on MTV on March 21, 1995.


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Monday, August 25, 1975

Bruce Springsteen Released Born to Run

First posted 3/23/2008; updated 10/16/2020.

Born to Run

Bruce Springsteen


Released: August 25, 1975


Peak: 3 US, 17 UK, 31 CN, 7 AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 0.3 UK, 10.4 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Thunder Road [4:49] (1 CL)
  2. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out [3:10] (1/10/76, 83 US, 5 CL, 82 CN)
  3. Night [3:00]
  4. Backstreets [6:30] (12 CL)
  5. Born to Run [4:30] (8/25/75, 23 US, 1 CL, 16 UK, 53 CN, 38 AU)
  6. She’s the One [4:30] (12 CL)
  7. Meeting Across the River [3:18] (8/25/75, 21 CL)
  8. Jungleland [9:35] (4 CL)

All songs written by Bruce Springsteen.


Total Running Time: 39:23


The Players:

  • Bruce Springsteen (vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion)
  • Roy Bittan (keyboards)
  • Clarence Clemons (saxophone, tambourine, backing vocals)
  • Dann Federici (keyboards)
  • Garry Tallent (bass)
  • Max Weinberg (drums)
  • Steven Van Zandt (guitar, backing vocals, horn)

Rating:

4.590 out of 5.00 (average of 22 ratings)


Quotable: “No one before or since has tried to pack as much of the American experience into 39 minutes, and no one has come as close to succeeding.” – Josh Tyrangiel/ Alan Light, Time magazine


Awards:

About the Album:

“Singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen, whose live performances are renowned for their energy and passion, burst onto the rock scene in the early 1970s, a time when many believed that rock was in need of new lifeblood. Billed early in his career as ‘the next Bob Dylan,’ his music evolved into a unique synthesis of early rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, folk, gospel, and country.” NRR

Despite all the praise, “Springsteen's first two albums were commercial duds” TL “which had been made for modest sums at a suburban studio.” WR As his “make-or-break third album,” WRBorn to Run was cut on a superstar budget, mostly at the Record Plant in New York” WR and it “represented a sonic leap from his first two.” WR It was the first album in which Springsteen “fully realized the sound that would earn him the title of ‘the Boss.’” NRR Springsteen later described “the sound he wanted for his third record” TL “as ‘Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan produced by Phil Spector.’” TL Indeed, the album had “a full, highly produced sound that contained elements of Phil Spector’s melodramatic work of the 1960s.” WR

The effect “required months of studio tinkering to perfect” TL as the album is filled with “layers of guitar, layers of echo on the vocals, lots of keyboards, thunderous drums.” WR “Not coincidentally, it was also his first album to feature the revamped lineup of the dynamic E Street Band.” NRR “His two virtuoso players, keyboardist David Sancious and drummer Vini Lopez, [were] replaced by the professional but less flashy Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg.” WR The band also featured “saxophone player Clarence Clemons, second guitarist ‘Miami’ Steve Van Zandt, organist Danny Federici, [and] bassist Garry Tallent.” NRR

“Jimmy Iovine (then a recording engineer, now the head of Interscope Records) took care of hiding stacks of overdue bills from the record label while Springsteen obsessed over things like just how many guitar overdubs the title track needed. If it seems trivial to note that the final tally was 12, listen again, because, it’s the accumulation of details, both musical (the warm wind of the saxophone on Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, the violin that comes out of nowhere on Jungleland) and lyrical…that makes Springsteen's grandiosity both operatic and personal.” TLBorn to Run had a big sound, and Springsteen wrote big songs to match it.” WR “In addition to the title song, the album contains such Springsteen anthems as Thunder Road, Backstreets, and She’s the One.” NRR

“The overall theme of the album was similar to that of The E Street Shuffle; Springsteen was describing, and saying farewell to, a romanticized teenage street life. But where he had been affectionate, even humorous before, he was becoming increasingly bitter. If Springsteen had celebrated his dead-end kids on his first album and viewed them nostalgically on his second, on his third he seemed to despise their failure, perhaps because he was beginning to fear he was trapped himself. Nevertheless, he now felt removed, composing an updated West Side Story with spectacular music that owed more to Bernstein than to Berry.” WR

“To call Born to Run overblown is to miss the point; Springsteen's precise intention is to blow things up, both in the sense of expanding them to gargantuan size and of exploding them. If The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle was an accidental miracle, Born to Run was an intentional masterpiece. It declared its own greatness with songs and a sound that lived up to Springsteen's promise, and though some thought it took itself too seriously, many found that exalting.” WR “No one before or since has tried to pack as much of the American experience into 39 minutes, and no one has come as close to succeeding.” TL


Notes: The 30th anniversary edition added a live DVD of a performance at London's Hammersmith Odeon in November 1975.

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