Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

Released August 25, 1975 this was Springsteen’s first commercial success. Peaking at #3 on the Billboard Charts it eventually sold 6 million copies in the US (6x platinum). It then re-charted in 1980 after the release of The River and again in 1984 after Born in the U.S.A. It is almost-always at or near the top of the greatest albums of all time.

Jason: Hi there. Happy snowy Halloween. So… when someone references Springsteen I immediately think of “Born In The U.S.A.” which was a massive hit. I wasn’t familiar with this album but I did know a few songs from it.

Brad: I guess “Born in the U.S.A.” was our era of Bruce but the song “Born to Run” has been playing on the radio for as long as I can remember. Then in the past 15-20 years I went back and listened to his entire catalog including this album. So I was familiar with it but only in the past couple decades.

Jason: Having had listened to his entire catalog recently, were would you rank this album in the list?

Brad: I’m bad at ranking albums but I would put this somewhere near the top. His entire catalog is pretty impressive. Such a great storyteller and the music has so many layers. What are your thoughts on this one?

Jason: I like this one. His voice has changed a bit in 45 years. I would describe his present day voice as honey being poured over a gravel driveway. But on this album it’s smoother and a little mumble-y. What I do like is that each story is really layered with intent. They aren’t just songs, they are, as you mentioned, stories.

Brad: I love his voice. So much power in everything he sings. Many of these songs are my favorites when he performs live. “Thunder Road”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and “Jungleland” are so thrilling in concert.

Jason: “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” isn’t one of my faves. I like “Meeting Across the River” and “Backstreets” of the non-singles.

Brad: I don’t think I fully appreciated “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” until seeing it performed live. Since Clarence Clemons died, it has become an uplifting tribute to him when he gets to the “And the Big Man joined the band” line.  “Meeting Across the River” is a melancholy jazz song. I like it too. “Backstreets” is pretty powerful. 

Jason: There isn’t a bad song in the bunch. I can see why this album is on the list. How many times have you seen him live?

Brad: Only four times in concert and I also met him once at a book signing.

The Boss meets the Brad.

A moment I will never forget for as long as I live. I hesitate to ask this because you are bad about remembering concerts but do you remember when we went to see him at Wrigley?

Jason: “Only four times” he says. Yes, I definitely remember him at Wrigley. It wasn’t that long ago. It was a really good concert. You could feel the energy in the stadium and the love people have for him.

Brad: Oh good! I’m glad you remember that. Bruce was trying to get that Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” sound on this album and the one song where I really notice it is on “Born to Run”. 

Jason: Yes, now that you mention it. It’s at about 1:40 into the song. By the way he is very handsome. Jason Mraz kind of looks like a young Springsteen.

Brad: I agree. So handsome. So ruggedly American in the best way possible. This album cover is so simple and iconic. I love that it looks great cropped and as the full gatefold with all of Clarence.

Jason: Springsteen is 70 and still going strong.

Brad: Yeah, he released a really great album “Western Stars” earlier this year and has just released a companion film to it. I think he’s in the process of recording a new E. Street album. Hopefully, that means he will be coming back to Wrigley next Summer. I would love to see him again.

Jason: Was his Broadway show recorded?

Brad: Yes, it was released on Netflix.

Jason: That’ll be a good snowy weekend watch. This album has gotten me into him again. I am going to listen to some other of this albums that I’m not as familiar with. 

Brad: His Broadway show is great. Essentially he found a way to tell the stories of his autobiography in a concise show using many of the songs from throughout his career. 

Jason: By the way here is his (unofficial) Born to Run era Funko Pop.

Brad: That really does look like Jason Mraz.

Jason: Also, this scratch-off art image is the worst one we have had.

Brad: Not my favorite either but not sure it is the worst. What grade would you give this album?

Jason: I will give it an A because it is a timeless album with a timeless sound. But I do like Born in the U.S.A. better.

Brad: No surprise but I also give it an A

Jason: Nice. Well, it’s still snowing so enjoy your Michigan Avenue freeze-out.

Click here for the complete 100 list.

Below is the awful scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.