Growing up with Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Rage Against the Machine my music taste has been acutely tuned to the songs I so fondly remember listening to on a Saturday morning over breakfast with my dad. Bruce Springsteen is one of these artists that formed my childhood and now, my very eclectic taste in music. Born to Run is Springsteen’s third studio album of which the lead single shares the same name. Considered as his breakthrough album, with a relatively short runtime of 39 minutes, it took the New-Jersey born singer-songwriter a total of 13 months to write and record.
In Springsteen’s efforts to break into the more mainstream music scene the album was a huge commercial success and peaked at number 3 on Billboards Top 200. The lead single, Born to Run, is still to this day one of his most iconic tracks with Born in the USA being a close second. After his debut album ‘Greetings from Asbury Park’ which was considered a flop critically and commercially this third studio album eliminated any worries about his music being too niche or not good enough for him to become a renowned musician.
The album starts with ‘Thunder Road’ a track Springsteen wrote at his living room piano one October evening, despite never been released as a single the record still holds incredible critical acclaim with it being number 86 in Classic Rock’s ‘Best 500 rock songs’. The harmonica at the beginning sets the foundation for the entire album and undoubtedly shows Springsteen as a multi-talented musician, with the harmonica one of the most unlikely instruments, becoming Springsteen’s bread and butter as it still features in a lot of his music today. Of course, the album has its lesser-known tracks such as the swinging and uplifting ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’ which has elements of a smooth jazz ballad with trumpets, sunshine piano and bluesy guitar. As you listen to the album you seem to sense the theme of rebellion, freedom, independence and even children coming of age through experiences they never knew were possible. These patterns all seem to be common threads, particularly in the title track ‘Born to Run’, ‘Night’, and closing track, which is a whopping 9 minutes and 35 seconds, ‘Jungleland’. The saxophonist Clarence Clemons that features on the closing track and throughout the album was a close friend of Springsteen and was also the saxophonist in ‘Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band’ from the band’s formation in 1972 till his death in 2011.
Whenever I listen back to this album, or really any Springsteen, I realise just how special and remarkable Bruce Springsteen is, not just to me because of my affiliation of him and my dad, but because how inspiring of a figure he is. Born in New-Jersey in the 1940s, a sort of cowboy rough northeastern state of America that was a state of ruin and poverty at the time, he continued to follow his passion jumping in and out of bands throughout his youth in the desperate need to follow the ambition that he was going to ‘make it’. Whilst he may be labelled as ‘dad music’ or ‘old cowboy-folk music’ he is, for me at least, still able to provoke feelings of extreme sadness and utter joy at the same time and that takes some serious talent and understanding of music. To write lyrics and musical compositions as he does is something we’ll never again experience, he truly is once in a lifetime musician and that it is only fitting his nickname be ‘The Boss’.
Listen to the title-track ‘Born to Run’ below: