Saturday, September 13, 1975

Bruce Springsteen starts a “Run” on the charts

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Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run”

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

Released: 8/25/1975, First charted: 9/13/1975

Peak: 23 US, 16 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): 39.8

Review: Springsteen took six months to write TB-159 and 3 ½ to record RS500 his bonafide classic. The song underwent fifty pages of fine-tuning in his notebook TB-159 as he crafted his tale of the ficticious Wendy KN and the “young lovers on the highways of New Jersey.” RS500 However, as he told Rolling Stone, “I don’t know how important the settings are…It’s the idea behind the settings. It could be New Jersey, it could be California, it could be Alaska.” RS500

Indeed, “Born to Run” was more about a philosophy than a place. It served as more than just The Boss’ signature song – it was his declarative anthem about outwardly rebelling against whatever held back those young, romantic New Jersians. Part of the reason the song became such a touchstone for people, though, is because of “an equally powerful melancholy; the future seems so bright largely because the present’s so dismal.” MA-23

Beyond the lyrics, though, this was also Springsteen’s ode to the musical giants who’d shaped him. The song comes complete with a “seven-layer Duane Eddy guitar lick with Dylanesque lyrics, Roy Orbison vocal histrionics, ...Stones-style rhythm section, [and a] King Curtis sax break.” MA-23 It’s all stitched together with a Phil Spector-esque Wall of Sound – “strings, glockenspiel, multiple keyboards – and more than a dozen guitar tracks.” RS500 The result is a song with “the audible ambition of recapitulating the first twenty-some years of rock and roll.” MA-23

Springsteen had released two albums to critical acclaim, but low sales. “Born to Run” was what he called his “shot at the title…at the greatest rock ’n’ roll record ever.” TB-159 His first live performance of the song convinced rock critic Jon Landau, who later became Bruce’s manager. When Landau caught The Boss opening for Bonnie Raitt on May 9, 1974, he wrote in the Real Paper out of Boston: “ I saw rock and roll’s future – and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” SF

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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