Springsteen Born To Run

75 Essential Albums – #9 Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

After over six weeks of providing a rundown of 65 albums that I believe everyone should own we come to the final 10.  In the days between now and Xmas I will give a run down of my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  Hopefully I have given you some thoughts as to new albums to check out and I hope that the final 10 will have you rewriting your christmas lists and picking up a few of these brilliant albums.

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

Asking a Springsteen fan to choose their favourite Springsteen album is akin to asking a parent to select their favourite child.  Your favourites change over time, they vary according to mood and of course the boss has something in the order of 40 albums to choose from.  The truth is I own almost all of them (all except the post 2012 output.

Back in September I wrote about my love for the Rising and it was included as one of my top 75.  Much as I love the album it doesn’t make my top 10, there are at least 5 Springsteen albums that are good enough to make anyones top 10, Born To Run, Born in The USA, Nebraska, The River and The Ghost of Tom Joad are all absolutely outstanding albums.  In the end and after much souls searching I plumped for ‘Born to Run’ as an absolutely essential Springsteen album.

Released in 1975 Born to Run was Springsteen’s third studio album.  It had a huge budget and in his Autobiography Springsteen admitted that he became so fixated on producing a ‘perfect’ album that it almost never came out at all.  A total of 14 months went into recording Born To Run, and a well-known rock and roll trivia fact is that it took six months to record and produce the title track by itself. “Born To Run” has 12 layers of guitar recordings, a prime example of the amount of thought that went into the record.

When the album was released it received widespread critical acclaim, acclaim that has continued unabated in the near 40 years since the release.  Thomas Nassiff on Absolute Punk calls ‘Born to Run’ the best record ever made.  Rolling Stone’ said:

The song titles by themselves — “Thunder Road,” “Night,” “Backstreets,” “Born to Run,” “Jungleland” — suggest the extraordinary dramatic authority that is at the heart of Springsteen’s new music. It is the drama that counts; the stories Springsteen is telling are nothing new, though no one has ever told them better or made them matter more.

Reviewing for the BBC Lou Thomas said: “Born To Run’s eight songs run to less than 40 minutes in length, but comprise a whole as satisfying as a portion of exquisitely rich chocolate cake.”

From the opening lines of Thunder Road to the closing notes of Jungleland, from “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways” all the way to “they wind up wounded, Not even dead, Tonight in Jungleland” we are treated to 40 minutes of lyrical drama, heartfelt story telling and musical mastery. Of the eight tracks on the album 6 are Springsteen classics with only ‘Night’ and ‘Meeting across the River’, good as they are, not making it into the stellar category.

The opening and closing tracks are without doubt two of the best songs ever written by anyone.  Springsteen really comes of age on ‘Born To Run’, his vocal and songwriting had both matured and the E-Street band are on fire throughout.  I could go on all night doing a track by track breakdown extolling the virtues of each, but I shall spare you the indignity of being preached to because if you know the album you already love it.  If you don’t own it sneak off quietly and buy a copy of the 30th anniversary remaster and tell your friends you had to buy that version because you wore out the original.  When you listen to this album you are truly in the presence of greatness.

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