Born To Run

Bruce Springsteen

Born To Run put Bruce Springsteen on the cover of both Newsweek and Time. It is a timeless snapshot of Americana – all sweaty, high energy, attuned to a carnival-like level. When Born To Run came out, Bob Dylan passed the baton to Springsteen, implying, “You take it from here, son.” But it went much further than that. Critics of the day claim Born To Run made Bruce Springsteen the most important artist of his generation.

Born To Run continues to define the beautiful rawness, fiery and conviction of New Jersey's favorite native son. Making the songs come alive, the E-Street Band thrusts and jells with all the dexterity of a tight, cohesive bar band. The combination of brilliant piano work from Roy Bittan, the biting sax of Clarence Clemons (with a lots of filler horns courtesy of the infamous Brecker Brothers), and extra helpings of patchy and distinctive guitar from Stevie Van Zant all contribute immensely to the album’s musicality. And in the middle of it all is Springsteen, Telecaster in hand, his heart and soul hanging on to each verse, bursting with emotion and character. Starting off strongly with "Thunder Road" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out," and dovetailing into "Night" and "Backstreets," Born To Run drips with all the makings of an exhausting and exhilarating roller coaster – coming to a stop every once in awhile, but never for too long.

Inevitably, the whole thing rides on the shoulders of the title track. "Born To Run" reverberates with a strange glow of sustained optimism and mystique, all wrapped in a riddle that sort of evolves into an enigmatic anthem. The suspended guitar lick blows through each stanza, heightened by a middle break that harmonically jettisons, dodges and opens up vistas for miles around. It is quickly followed by "She's The One," sustaining the working class theme one step further, with a Spectorish quality, production-wise, suspending bits of the Atlantic City mentality and meshing it together on a bigger playing field. Barnstorming through "Jungleland" clearly proves that Springsteen is the Boss.

Springsteen's subsequent records would yield and succeed to differences of their own, but Born To Run was and has always been held up as his most momentous recording. It was with this album that Springsteen's songs first portrayed a glorious yet very real side of America, down-trodden, dreams dashed and shattered, hopes lost. In 1975, much of rock and roll isolated itself from this brand of politicizing. Then punk came along and everything was shaken down to its visceral core. Who knows? Maybe the rallying cry of Born To Run launched a new form of consciousness about the excessive styles of music without even trying. Sounds as reasonable an explanation as any, doesn’t it?

~ Shawn Perry

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