Friday, April 15, 2011

Best of the 70's: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Born To RunIt's hard to believe we are in the top ten on the Best of the 70's list, but we are and we enter it with this 1975 release from Springsteen, his third album on the list.

This album to me is all about being 16 years old. I use to go to bed at night with my Walkman and listen to a tape as I went to sleep. The first time I ever listened to this album was one of those nights and that is one of those experiences in your life you never forget. It is the greatest musical experience of my life. Now 27 years later I sit here listening to this album again and try to understand why it had that effect on me, and why over the years it has had that effect on so many others.

Lyrically the album is brilliant. All the abstractions of Springsteen's first two albums are gone and we are at the heart of what makes Springsteen a great songwriter. Vocally, I don't think he's ever done anything to match this. The desperation and energy of the lyrics are in every sound he utters and he's able to bring to life the emotions he's so well crafted in words. The music, like is voice, is somehow able to capture that same desperate, energy of the songs and holds everything together for the fast eight tracks that make up this album.

This is one of the greatest albums of all time, and is probably the greatest emotional album ever made. It is such a gutty album and so captures all the swirling emotions that hits a person at age 16, but especially someone in their mid twenties, which is where Springsteen was at the time he wrote this.

As great as this album is, it is not an album for all occasions in part because it is so full of emotion. If you are wanting to relax and read a book this album is not going to let you do that. It's an album you have to be ready to give in to and enjoy from start to finish.

Following the Rhapsody rating method I give it 5 out of 5 stars for Great.


  1. Excellent review. I particularly like the point about how it doesn't really work as background music.

  2. Yes, great stuff. Great record.

    I worked with a burnt-out true believer who had turned on Bruce Springsteen with this record. He had fallen in love with the first two records when they came out (the abstractions that you talk about here) and really felt like Born to Run was a turning the corner of Springsteen's career that this guy wasn't interested in. It was exactly the arc of the zillion R.E.M. fans I knew who never listened to anything but Murmur or Reckoning (or, I suppose, the folkies who booed Bob Dylan at his first electric shows); it was so interesting to discover this category of Springsteen fan. And this guy was very definitely a Springsteen fan--was still listening to Greetings and The Wild, the Innocent ... 20 years after the fact.

    Anyway, here's my progression of favorite songs on this record: "Born to Run" for about six very intense months, then "She's the One" for about a year, then "Thunder Road" for about five years, then "Backstreets" for about a year, then "Meeting Across the River" for a looooooooong time (like 15 years or more) and, just recently, "Jungleland." Always loved "Jungleland," of course, but, man, I've just been completely blown away in the last year or so with just how ambitious and successful that piece of writing is.

    Make me wonder if I'm going to be like a huge "Night" or "Tenth-Avenue Freezeout" fan in my 70s.