Bruce Springsteen is one of the most influential rock and roll musicians of all time, according to what a lot of people keep telling me. He is widely considered to be one of the only “classic rock” artists whose current work is still relevant, which is kind of another way of saying almost everybody who made music in the 1960s is either dead or Rolling Stones-type shitty. And although they’re a famous rock band that plays really long shows to a devoted cult and has a saxophone player (like, a guy who I’m pretty sure just plays saxophone and nothing else), Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band doesn’t sound like Dave Matthews’ band, Dave Matthews Band.
Truth be told, though, I don’t know exactly what Bruce Springsteen sounds like. I consider myself a music lover but I never bought a Springsteen record; beyond that, for whatever reason, I was just never exposed to the guy’s music. All I can think of off the top of my head is “Baby we were booorn to ruuuuuuun” and “Boooorn in the U-S-A!” Not the songs, mind you: just those particular lyrics, and those melodies right there. My folks played records when I was a kid, but the only stuff from the seventies I really remember was The Doobie Brothers (fuck you, Dad) and Carly Simon (fuck you, Mom). When the Hold Steady broke big half the reviews I read referenced Bruce Springsteen (also someone called The Boss), so I guess he sounds like the Hold Steady, but for all I know he might actually sound like Dave Matthews Band.
Anyway, inspired by Sara Cress’ post on Wednesday (and years of trying to write English papers without having finished skimming the Cliff’s Notes), here is my review of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. Someday I will listen to it.
Bruce Springsteen (and possibly also The E Street Band)’s Born to Run is the definition of a truly classic album, an album that belongs in every rock music fan’s collection. Released sometime in the 1970s, or at least before Born in the USA (but definitely after his first album), Born to Run captures the young Springsteen at the height of his powers: a true blue-collar romantic, an urban poet, a pure American original enraptured by the power of rock and roll.
The album wastes no time making its mark on you: you are instantly plunged headfirst into Springsteen’s shoot-from-the-hip lyricism and earthy, full-bodied compositions. From those classic opening lines until the needle lifts off your turntable and leaves the final chords ringing in your ears, there is no mistaking Born to Run for any other album. It would be extremely difficult for me to pick one track as a favorite, but if I had to I’d go with the title track. When Springsteen bellows “Baby we were booorn to ruuuuuuun!” it always sends a chill down my spine; it still stands out as one of the single most memorable moments in his entire (formidable) catalogue.
Bruce Springsteen set the bar high for honest, earnest and powerful American rock music, and Born to Run is perhaps his finest hour. There isn’t a weak song in the bunch, and if you like saxophones you’re in luck because there’s saxophone on like every goddamn track. If you consider yourself a music lover, there is simply no excuse for you not to own this album.
Side note: I’ve never heard “Stairway to Heaven” all the way through. Not by design, but it’s kind of a source of pride at this point in my life.