Bruce Springsteen's 'Born To Run' turns 40 with grit and grace

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI

When Bruce Springsteen strikes the first guitar chord of “Born to Run” in concert, few live experiences match the combination of intensity and unabashed joy.

 

The houselights are up, Springsteen is usually either standing practically in the crowd or skidding around the stage on his knees, depending upon the night and his level of joint ache, and the tramps like us in the audience are primed with fists ready to joust the air.

Forty years ago today, the album bearing that electrifying track, a song that truly deserves being called iconic, arrived and it marked Springsteen’s last gasp as a young artist. Following the commercial flops of his first two records, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” and “The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle,” “Born to Run” was a desperation play, as chronicled in The Week.

 

The single became an immediate hit in working-class markets such as Cleveland and Philadelphia, its tale of yearning for freedom coupled with Clarence Clemons’ bracing sax and that charging guitar a shot of adrenaline to the heart.

But then the rest of the album arrived, recorded with painstaking detail at The Record Plant in Manhattan and mixed to showcase the Phil Spector-styled blasts missing from Springsteen’s earlier work.

The screen door slammed and “Thunder Road” began, ushering in a collection of eight songs ranging from the swinging sax strut of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” to the eye-popping vivid storytelling in “Jungleland.”

Around that time, even though he didn’t know it yet, the scrawny kid from New Jersey who spent years scrounging around clubs from Richmond, Va., to Cambridge, Mass., was becoming The Boss.

Enjoy some classic “Born to Run” moments and please share your memories of the album in the comments section.

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.  
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