Born to Run
Writer(s): Bruce Springsteen (see lyrics here)
Released: August 25, 1975
First Charted: September 13, 1975
Peak: 23 US, 17 CB, 27 GR, 22 HR, 26 RR, 1 CL, 16 UK, 53 CN, 38 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.2 UK
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 62.6 video, 286.29 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Springsteen took six months to write TB and 3 ½ to record RS500 his bonafide classic. The song underwent fifty pages of fine-tuning in his notebook TB 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.” DM The song’s protagonist is “the age-old symbol of the solitary man struggling against all the forces of society to find his own way. He is fearful of what might happen in the effort to escape, but more fearful still of the consequences of not trying.” SS
Beyond the lyrics, though, this was also Springsteen’s ode to the musical giants who’d shaped him. The song’s opening guitar riff was inspired by Duean Eddy’s “Because They’re Young” SS and features “Dylanesque lyrics, Roy Orbison vocal histrionics, ...Stones-style rhythm section, [and a] King Curtis sax break.” DM 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.” DM Music historian Steve Sullivan said, “it is an extraordinary vision that is at once deeply personal and all-eoncmpassingly universal.” SS It is “the ultimate epic of rock ‘n’ roll.” SS “Know this song, and you know rock and roll.” SS
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 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.” Landau was right. After the Born to Run album was released, Bruce Springsteen became the first musician to simultaneously appear on the covers of Time and Newsweek. It was also the first album to be officially certified as platinum. SS
Last updated 4/3/2023.