Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen song)
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|"Born to Run"|
|Single by Bruce Springsteen|
|from the album Born to Run|
|B-side||"Meeting Across the River"|
|Released||August 25, 1975|
|Recorded||January 8, 1974 (first take) May 21, 1974 (first demo) August 6, 1974|
|Bruce Springsteen singles chronology|
|Born to Run track listing|
"Born to Run" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, and the title song of his album Born to Run. Upon its release, music critic Robert Christgau took note of its wall of sound influence and called it "the fulfillment of everything 'Be My Baby' was about and lots more".
"Born to Run" was Springsteen's first worldwide single release, although it achieved little initial success outside of the United States. Within the U.S. it received extensive airplay on progressive or album-oriented rock radio stations and the single was Springsteen’s first top 40 hit, reaching number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song ranked number 21 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the highest entry for a song by Springsteen, and is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
In late 1973, on the road in Tennessee, Springsteen awoke with the title "Born to Run", which he wrote down. According to Springsteen, this was the first spark of the later song.
Written in the first person, the song is a love letter to a girl named Wendy, for whom the hot rod-riding protagonist seems to possess the passion to love, just not the patience. However, Springsteen has noted that it has a much simpler core: getting out of Freehold. U.S. Route 9, a highway passing through Freehold, is mentioned from the lyric "sprung from cages out on Highway 9".
In his 1996 book Songs, Springsteen relates that while the beginning of the song was written on guitar around the opening riff, the song's writing was finished on piano, the instrument that most of the Born to Run album was composed on. The song was recorded in the key of E major.
In the period prior to the release of Born to Run Springsteen was becoming well-known (especially in his native northeast) for his live shows. "Born to Run" joined his concert repertoire well before the release of the album, being performed in concert by May 1974, if not earlier.
In recording the song Springsteen first earned his noted reputation for perfectionism, laying down as many as eleven guitar tracks to get the sound just right. The recording process and alternate ideas for the song's arrangement are described in the Wings For Wheels documentary DVD included in the 2005 reissue Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition package.
On January 8, 1974, Springsteen met his manager, Mike Appel, Clarence Clemons, and the other members of his band at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, New York, to rehearse two new compositions, "Jungleland" and "Born to Run", both of which were lacking lyrics. He continued working on both songs at his home in New Jersey. The original backing track was recorded on May 21, 1974, after rehearsal sessions. Vocals were recorded on June 26, 1974. Recording was not completed until August 6, 1974, when mixing began on seventy-two tracks to the sixteen available at 914 Studios, including strings, more than one dozen guitar tracks, sax, drums, glockenspiel, bass, multiple keyboards and a variety of voices. The core instrumental backing track, which had been re-recorded, was mixed, along with numerous test arrangements, backing vocals, double-tracked vocals and strings, and finally the one chosen for release. Springsteen and Mike Appel were the producers, and Louis Lahav was chief engineer. After finally going in the can, the tapes sat for a year, waiting for the rest of the album to be completed.
A pre-release version of the song, with a slightly different mix, was given by Appel to disc jockey Ed Sciaky of WMMR in Philadelphia, and played with Springsteen as his special guest on November 3, 1974, and within a couple of weeks this version was given to other progressive rock radio outlets in the Northeast as well, including WNEW-FM in New York City, WMMS in Cleveland, WBCN in Boston, and WVBR in Ithaca, New York. It became quite popular on these stations, and led to older cuts from Springsteen's first two albums being played, as anticipation built for the new album. When Springsteen did a show at the Main Point, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on February 5, 1975, with Sciaky as host, the crowd sang along to "Born to Run".
No music video was made for the original release of "Born to Run".
- In 1987, a video was released to MTV and other channels, featuring a live performance of "Born to Run" from Springsteen and the E Street Band's 1984–1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour, interspersed with clips of other songs' performances from the same tour. It closed with a "Thank you" message to Springsteen's fans.
- In 1988, director Meiert Avis shot a video of an acoustic version of the song during the Tunnel of Love Express tour.
At the time of the single release, Billboard described "Born to Run" as "one of the best rock anthems to individual freedom ever created," describing it as "a monster song with a piledriver arrangement" that could become Springsteen's biggest hit yet.
- In 2016, "Born to Run" was ranked No. 16 in Pitchfork's list of "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s"
- In 2004, the song was ranked #6 in WXPN's list of The 885 All-Time Greatest Songs.
- Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time placed it at No. 21.
- The song came in at No. 920 in Q's list of the "1001 Greatest Songs Ever" in 2003, in which they described the song as "best for working class heroes."
- It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
- In 2001, the RIAA's Songs of the Century placed the song 135th (out of 365).
- In 1999, National Public Radio included the song in the "NPR 100", NPR's music editors' compilation of the one hundred most important American musical works of the 20th century.
The song has been played at nearly every non-solo Springsteen concert since 1975 (although it was not included in the 2006 Sessions Band Tour). Most of the time the house lights are turned fully on and fans consistently sing along with Springsteen's signature wordless vocalizations throughout the song's performance.
The song has also been released in live versions on six albums or DVDs:
- A 1975 Born to Run Tour rendition on Hammersmith Odeon London '75, released in 2006;
- A 1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour runthrough on Live/1975-85, released in 1986;
- A starkly different 1988 solo acoustic guitar performance from the Tunnel of Love Express on Chimes of Freedom, a 1988 EP;
- A 2000 Reunion Tour version on Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live In New York City, released in 2001 (the song closes disc one but does not appear on the track listing of the album cover);
- A 2002 Rising Tour take on the Live in Barcelona DVD, released in 2003.
- A 2009 Working on a Dream Tour performance on the DVD London Calling: Live in Hyde Park which was released in 2010.
"Born to Run" was also performed as the second number of four during Springsteen and the E Street Band's halftime performance at Super Bowl XLIII.
- Frankie Goes To Hollywood covered this song in their debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome in 1984.
- A Finnish rock singer Pate Mustajärvi covered this song with Finnish lyrics in 1986. The song title is "Synnyimme lähtemään".
- Big Daddy, a band that specializes in recording popular modern songs in 1950s-style arrangements, performed a drastically re-arranged cover of "Born to Run" on their 1991 album Cutting Their Own Groove.
- Wolfsbane has a heavy metal cover of this song on their 1993 EP "Everything Else"
- Suzi Quatro covered this song in 1995.
- Frank Turner covered the song on his 2015 compilation, The Third Three Years.
- Melissa Etheridge sang "Born to Run" at the September 11 benefit, The Concert for New York City, and again at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, where she performed the song for Springsteen himself, one of the Center's honorees for that year.
- British band, McFly, performed the song for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on December 10, 2007.
- The Australian band, Something for Kate, frequently covers "Born to Run" at live performances.
- A rare live recording of Roger Daltrey singing "Born to Run" at a live solo performance appears on his greatest hits/rarities collection Gold.
- Light This City recorded "Born to Run" during the recording of their final record, Stormchaser.
- Scottish singer Amy Macdonald performed an acoustic version on recent[when?] tours.
- Ohio based acoustic group Free Wild performed a cover version of this song in their 2011 and 2012 tours, often finishing the song with a Springsteen inspired version of the children's song "Itsy Bitsy Spider".
- Eric Church tagged "Born to Run" in the middle of his own song "Springsteen" during his 2012–2013 tour.
- On August 25, 2015, the 40th anniversary of Born to Run's release, indie rock band Superchunk shared a live cover of the title track. This performance also featured ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and Crooked Fingers.
- "Born to Run" – 4:31
- "Meeting Across the River" – 3:18
The B-side was simply another cut from the album; Springsteen would not begin releasing unused tracks as B-sides until 1980.
- Bruce Springsteen – guitars, vocals
- Garry Tallent – bass guitar
- Ernest "Boom" Carter – drums
- David Sancious – keyboards
- Danny Federici – organ, glockenspiel
- Clarence Clemons – tenor saxophone
- Uncredited – tambourines, strings, brass
In popular culture
- At the end of The Office episode "The Quiz", David Brent triumphantly air-guitars the song's opening in celebration of a supposed victory in a trivia quiz challenge. He further references it by saying "Born to Run the Slough branch".
- The children's show Sesame Street featured a song about arithmetic called "Born to Add", sung by a Muppet modeled on Springsteen.
- Jimmy Fallon opened the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards with a Glee-style cover of the song, featuring Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Kate Gosselin, Nina Dobrev, Joel McHale, Jorge Garcia, Randy Jackson, Tim Gunn and Glee Cast members Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer.
- The 2009 book about running Born to Run by Christopher McDougall was named after the song, and the lyrics are also quoted at the start of one chapter.
- In John Niven's novel The Second Coming, the main character (Jesus) performs Born to Run live during an American Idol-like casting show.
- The song was available as downloadable content for the video game Guitar Hero World Tour on January 27, 2009, along with "My Lucky Day", as part of the Bruce Springsteen Pack.
- The song is played at the start of the post-parade before the annual Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey.
- In the Futurama episode "31st Century Fox", as the Planet Express crew heads to New Jersey, a highway sign reads "Highway jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive."
- In The Sopranos season 5 episode 12 "Long Term Parking", Tony asks Christopher why he is late for a meeting. Moltisanti answers "highway was jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power-drive".
- The song was played by Congressman Joe Crowley by way of conceding defeat to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the his district's Democratic primary for the 2018 midterm election in the United States.
- The song was featured prominently in the 2019 movie Blinded by the Light.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||500,000|
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.
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- "Superchunk Share 'Born to Run' Cover Featuring Trail of Dead, Crooked Fingers". Pitchfork. August 25, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
- Niven, John (2011). The second Coming.
- Hill, David (July 9, 2015). "American Pharoah's owner wants Bruce Springsteen to play on Haskell day". Fox Sports. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- n/a, n/a (June 26, 2018). "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Millennial beats veteran Democrat". BBC. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
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