Tuesday, August 26, 1975

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

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):


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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