Friday, October 24, 1980

Bruce Springsteen “Hungry Heart” charted

Hungry Heart

Bruce Springsteen

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

Released: October 21, 1980

First Charted: October 24, 1980

Peak: 5 BB, 6 CB, 11 GR, 10 HR, 5 RR, 3 CL, 28 UK, 5 CN, 33 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.2 UK, 0.77 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 26.0 video, 204.57 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

After two albums in 1973, Bruce Springsteen had earned a reputation as a fantastic live act but wasn’t doing much in the sales department. His third album, 1975’s Born to Run, was a make-or-break moment – and he delivered big. The anthemic title track became one of rock’s most important songs, capturing the restless spirit of the genre combined with a Wall of Sound even Phil Spector would envy.

1978’s follow-up album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, was another success but didn’t deliver a blockbuster single. It took “Springsteen five years after ‘Born to Run’ to figure out the mechanics of making a good single.” DM “Hungry Heart” managed to pull off what even “Born to Run” couldn’t – it reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100.

Springsteen originally wrote the song for the Ramones but decided to keep it. His songs “Blinded by the Light,” “Because the Night,” and “Fire” all became hits in others’ hands and Jon Landau, Springsteen’s producer and manager, didn’t want to see another hit slip away. The title of the song comes from the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. WK

The song is marked by “fevered brightness, all splashy drums and keyboards, underpinned by baritone sax and topped off by soaring…harmonies and a Springsteen vocal sped up to the limits of pitch control.” DM “The production is as kitchen-sink as ‘Born to Run,’ but that doesn’t make it gimmicky…just lush and elaboroate, less angular and hard, more resilient and pop.” DM

Lyrically, the song features “one of the more disruptive opening couplets of the eighties: ‘Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack / Went out for a ride and I never came back.’” DM It uses the familiar trope of a deadbeat dad who goes out for cigarettes and disappears for twenty years, but Springsteen also taps the protagonist’s “vulnerability and desire” for reconciliation with an “unsual frankness.” DM


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First posted 2/14/2024.

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