Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen song)

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"Born to Run (song)" redirects here. For other songs, see Born to Run (disambiguation).
"Born to Run"
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Born to Run
Released August 25, 1975
Format 7"
Recorded 914 Sound Studios
Blauvelt, New York
up to August 6, 1974
Genre Heartland rock
Length 4:30
Label Columbia Records
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Mike Appel
Bruce Springsteen singles chronology
"Spirit in the Night"
"Born to Run"/"Meeting Across the River"
"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"/"She's the One"
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."[1]


Written at 7½ West End Court in Long Branch, New Jersey in early 1974, the song was Bruce Springsteen's final attempt to become successful. The prior year, Springsteen had released two albums to critical acclaim but with little commercial movement.

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 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 epic 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.

The first recording of the song was made by Allan Clarke of the British group The Hollies, although its release was delayed, only appearing after Springsteen's own now-famous version.


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.

The track was recorded at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York amidst touring breaks during 1974, with final recording done on August 6, well in advance of the rest of the album, and featured Ernest "Boom" Carter on the drums and David Sancious on keyboards; they would be replaced by Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan for the rest of the album and in the ongoing E Street Band (which was still uncredited on Springsteen's records at the time). The song was also recorded with only Springsteen and Mike Appel as producers; it would be later in the following year, when work on the album bogged down, that Jon Landau was brought in as an additional producer. Future record executive Jimmy Iovine engineered the majority of the sessions.

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 in early November 1974, and within a couple of weeks was given to other progressive rock radio outlets as well, including WNEW in New York, WMMS in Cleveland, WBCN in Boston, and WVBR in Ithaca, New York. It immediately became quite popular on these stations, and led to cuts from Springsteen's first two albums being frequently played as well as building anticipation for the album release.[2]

Upon release in August 1975, the song and the album became unparalleled successes for Springsteen, springing him into stardom, and resulting in simultaneous cover stories in Time and Newsweek magazines.

Honors and accolades[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Born to Run" - 4:31
  2. "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.

Chart performance[edit]

"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 a top 40 hit, reaching number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.[5]


Live performance history[edit]

House lights on for a typical performance of "Born to Run". Hartford Civic Center, October 2, 2007.
"Born to Run" in its home state of New Jersey. Izod Center, May 21, 2009.

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:

"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.

On Jon Stewart's last episode as host of The Daily Show on August 6, 2015, Springsteen performed "Land of Hope and Dreams" and "Born to Run".

Music videos[edit]

No music video was made for the original release of "Born to Run", as they had not achieved significant popularity at the time.

Cultural references[edit]


  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood covered this song in their debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome in 1984.
  • Big Daddy, a band that specializes in recording popular modern songs in 1950's-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.

Live covers[edit]

  • 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, lead singer of The Who, singing "Born to Run" at a live solo performance appears on his greatest-hits/rarities collection "Gold".
  • Light This City recorded their take on Born To Run during the recording of their final record, "Stormchaser", the track was featured on their Myspace for a time and can be found on YouTube as well
  • Scottish singer Amy Macdonald performed an acoustic version on recent 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 hit song "Springsteen" during his 2012-13 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.[12]


External links[edit]