Born to Run

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Born to Run
Studio album by Bruce Springsteen
Released August 25, 1975
Recorded Record Plant, New York
914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, New York
May 1974 – July 1975
Genre Rock and roll
Length 39:26
Label Columbia
Producer Bruce Springsteen, Mike Appel, Jon Landau
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band chronology
The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
Born to Run
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Singles from Born to Run
  1. "Born to Run"
    Released: August 25, 1975
  2. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"
    Released: 1976

Born to Run is the third studio album by the American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen. As his effort to break into the mainstream, the album was a commercial success, peaking at number three on the Billboard 200 and eventually selling six million copies in the United States. Two singles were released from the album: "Born to Run" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"; the first helped Springsteen to reach mainstream popularity. The tracks "Thunder Road" and "Jungleland" became staples of album-oriented rock radio and Springsteen concert high points.

Born to Run garnered widespread acclaim when it was first released on August 25, 1975, by Columbia Records. It has since been considered by critics to be one of the greatest albums of all time. On November 14, 2005, a 30th Anniversary remaster of the album was released as a box set including two DVDs: a production diary film and a concert movie.

The album was remastered again in 2014 by veteran mastering engineer Bob Ludwig, who has worked on much of Springsteen's audio output since 1982, for release as part of The Album Collection Vol. 1: 1973-1984, a boxed set composed of remastered editions of his first seven albums. It was later released in remastered form as a single disc as well.[1]


Springsteen began work on the album in May 1974. Given an enormous budget in a last-ditch effort at a commercially viable record, Springsteen became bogged down in the recording process while striving for a wall of sound production.[citation needed] But, fed by the release of an early mix of "Born to Run" to progressive rock radio, anticipation built toward the album's release.[citation needed]

Springsteen has noted a progression in his songwriting compared to his previous work. Unlike Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Born to Run includes few specific references to places in New Jersey, in an attempt to make the songs more identifiable to a wider audience. Springsteen has also referred to a maturation in his lyrics, calling Born to Run "the album where I left behind my adolescent definitions of love and freedom—it was the dividing line."[2] In addition, Springsteen spent more time in the studio refining songs than he had on the previous two albums.[citation needed] All in all, the album took more than 14 months to record, with six months alone spent on the song "Born to Run" itself. During this time Springsteen battled with anger and frustration over the album, saying he heard "sounds in [his] head" that he could not explain to the others in the studio.[citation needed] During the process, Springsteen brought in Jon Landau to help with production. This was the beginning of the breakup of Springsteen's relationship with producer and manager Mike Appel, after which Landau assumed both roles. The album was Springsteen's first to feature pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg (although David Sancious and Ernest "Boom" Carter played the piano and drums, respectively, on the title track).[3]

The album is noted for its use of introductions to set the tone of each song (all of the record was composed on piano, not guitar), and for the Phil Spector-like "Wall of Sound" arrangements and production. Indeed, Springsteen has said that he wanted Born to Run to sound like "Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan, produced by Spector." Most of the tracks were first recorded with a core rhythm section band comprising Springsteen, Weinberg, Bittan, and bassist Garry Tallent, with other members' contributions then added on.[4]

In terms of the original LP's sequencing, Springsteen eventually adopted a "four corners" approach, as the songs beginning each side ("Thunder Road", "Born to Run") were uplifting odes to escape, while the songs ending each side ("Backstreets", "Jungleland") were sad epics of loss, betrayal, and defeat. (Originally, he had planned to begin and end the album with alternative versions of "Thunder Road".)[citation needed]

Also, original pressings have "Meeting Across the River" billed as "The Heist". The original album cover has the title printed in a graffiti style font. These copies, known as the "script cover," are very rare and considered to be the "holy grail" for Springsteen collectors.[citation needed]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album's release was accompanied by a $250,000 promotional campaign by Columbia directed at both consumers and the music industry, making good use of Landau's "I saw rock 'n' roll's future—and its name is Bruce Springsteen" quote. With much publicity, Born to Run vaulted into the top 10 in its second week on the charts and soon went Gold. Time and Newsweek magazines put Springsteen on the cover in the same week (October 27, 1975) – in Time, Jay Cocks praised Springsteen, while the Newsweek article took a cynical look at the "next Dylan" hype that haunted Springsteen until his breakthrough. The question of hype became a story in itself as critics began wondering if Springsteen was for real or the product of record company promotion.[5][6]

Upset with Columbia's promotion department, Springsteen said the decision to label him as the "future of rock was a very big mistake and I would like to strangle the guy who thought that up." When Springsteen arrived for his first UK concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, he personally tore down the "Finally the world is ready for Bruce Springsteen" posters in the lobby and ordered that the buttons with "I have seen the future of rock 'n' roll at the Hammersmith Odeon" printed on them not be given out.[7] Now fearing the hype might backfire, Columbia suspended all press interviews with Springsteen.[citation needed] When the hype died down, sales tapered off and the album was off the chart after 29 weeks.[8] But the album had established a solid national fan base for Springsteen which he would build on with each subsequent release.[citation needed]

The album first charted at number 84 on the Billboard album chart in the week of September 13, 1975.[9] The following week it made an impressive increase entering the top 10 at #8, then spent two weeks at #4, and finally, during the weeks of October 11 and October 18, Born to Run reached its peak position of #3.[citation needed] Born to Run continued to be a strong catalog seller through the years, re-entering the Billboard chart in late 1980 after The River was released, and again after the blockbuster success of Born in the U.S.A., spending most of 1985 on the chart.[10][11][12] It was certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1986, the first year in which pre-1976 releases were eligible for platinum and multi-platinum awards.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[14]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[15]
Mojo 4/5 stars[16]
Q 5/5 stars[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[18]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[19]
Uncut 4/5 stars[16]
The Village Voice A[20]

Born to Run received highly positive reviews from music critics.[21] In a rave review for Rolling Stone magazine, Greil Marcus wrote that Springsteen enhances romanticized American themes with his majestic sound, ideal style of rock and roll, evocative lyrics, and an impassioned delivery that defines what is a "magnificent" album: "It is the drama that counts; the stories Springsteen is telling are nothing new, though no one has ever told them better or made them matter more."[22] John Rockwell, writing in The New York Times, said that the "solidly rock 'n' roll" album is more diverse than Springsteen's previous albums, while his detailed lyrics retain a universal quality that transcends the sources and myths he drew upon.[23] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice felt that he condenses a significant amount of American myth into songs, mostly centered on taking a lover for a joyride, and often succeeds in spite of his tendency for histrionics and "pseudotragic beautiful loser fatalism": "Springsteen may well turn out to be one of those rare self-conscious primitives who get away with it."[20] Langdon Winner was less enthusiastic in his review for The Real Paper and argued that, because Springsteen consciously adheres to traditions and standards extolled in rock criticism, Born to Run is "the complete monument to rock and roll orthodoxy".[24]

Born to Run was voted the third best album of 1975 in the Pazz & Jop, an annual critics poll run by The Village Voice.[25] Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it 12th on his own year-end list.[26] He later wrote that its major flaw was its pompous declaration of greatness, typified by elements such as the "wall-of-sound, white-soul-at-the-opera-house" aesthetic and an "unresolved quest narrative". Nonetheless, he maintained the record was important for how "its class-conscious songcraft provided a relief from the emptier pretensions of late-hippie arena-rock."[27] On the other hand, AllMusic's William Ruhlmann contended that although "some thought it took itself too seriously, many found that exalting."[14]

According to Acclaimed Music, Born to Run is the 17th most ranked record on critics' all-time lists.[28] In 1987, it was ranked #8 by Rolling Stone in its "100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years"[29] and in 2003, the magazine ranked it 18th on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[30] In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 27th-greatest album of all time,[31] and in 2003, it was ranked as the most popular album in the first Zagat Survey Music Guide.[32] Born to Run was also listed in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry of historic recordings.[33] In December 2005, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (who represents Asbury Park) and 21 co-sponsors sponsored H.Res. 628, "Congratulating Bruce Springsteen of New Jersey on the 30th anniversary of his masterpiece record album 'Born to Run', and commending him on a career that has touched the lives of millions of Americans." In general, resolutions honoring native sons are passed with a simple voice vote. This bill, however, was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and died there.[34]

Live performance[edit]

Songs from Born to Run were performed live as early as mid-1974, and by 1975, all had made their way into Springsteen's shows and (with the rare exception of "Meeting Across the River") continued to be a regular staple of his concerts on subsequent tours through 2009.[citation needed] Springsteen and the E Street Band performed Born to Run in its entirety and in order for the first time at a benefit performance at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey, on May 7, 2008.[citation needed] It was again performed during their September 20, 2009, show at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois,[35] as well as several other shows on the fall 2009 leg of the Working on a Dream Tour.[citation needed] During the 2013 spring-summer run of his Wrecking Ball Tour, Springsteen again began to perform the album in its entirety although a few times its performance was not included in the actual set lists and it was performed as either a surprise or request.[citation needed]

On June 20, 2013, the full album was performed at the Ricoh Arena the home of Coventry City F.C. in Coventry, England and dedicated to the memory of actor James Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack the previous day.[36]

Album cover[edit]

Cover of the Sesame Street album Born to Add, one of many imitations of the Springsteen cover pose. The album features tracks by "Bruce Stringbean and the S. Street Band"

The cover art of Born to Run is one of rock music's most popular and iconic images.[37] It was taken by Eric Meola, who shot 900 frames in his three-hour session.[37] These photos have been compiled in Born to Run: The Unseen Photos.[37]

The photo shows Springsteen holding a Fender Telecaster with an Esquire neck,[38] while leaning against saxophonist Clarence Clemons.[37] That image became famous as the cover art. "Other things happened," says Meola, "but when we saw the contact sheets, that one just sort of popped.[37] Instantly, we knew that was the shot." Ultra-thin lettering graced the mass-produced version: an unusual touch then; a design classic since.[37]

During the Born to Run tours, Springsteen and Clemons would occasionally duplicate the pose onstage for several seconds after a song while the stage lights were dim.[citation needed] As soon as the audience recognized and responded to what they were doing, they immediately broke the pose.[citation needed]

The Springsteen and Clemons cover pose has been imitated often, from Cheap Trick on the album Next Position Please, to Tom and Ray Magliozzi on the cover of the Car Talk compilation Born Not to Run: More Disrespectful Car Songs, to Kevin & Kell on a Sunday strip entitled "Born to Migrate" featuring Kevin Dewclaw as Bruce with a carrot and Kell Dewclaw as Clarence with a pile of bones, to Bert and the Cookie Monster on the cover of the Sesame Street album Born to Add.[37] The Spanish band, Los Secretos, on the album, Algo Prestado, on 2015.

30th Anniversary Edition[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Blender 4/5 stars[27]
Entertainment Weekly A-[39]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[40]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[2]
Stylus Magazine A[41]

On November 14, 2005, Columbia Records released Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition in box set form.[42] The package included a remastered CD version of the original album. "Born to Run is the one I've remastered several times; most recently for the box set…" recalled Bob Ludwig. "That's the one that Bruce told me sounded closest to the way he'd imagined it in his head, which is the ultimate compliment."[43]

The CD is all black (including playback side) with the label side replicating the original vinyl disc having four bands (the original LP had four tracks per side) and including a modified red Columbia label listing all eight tracks.[42] The DVD included Wings For Wheels, a lengthy documentary on the making of the album, which later won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video, with bonus film of three songs recorded live on May 1, 1973 at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles.[42] The DVD Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Hammersmith Odeon, London '75, a full-length concert film recorded on November 18, 1975 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London during the brief European portion of their Born to Run tours, this live recording was subsequently released as the CD Hammersmith Odeon London '75. Packages from retailer Best Buy also included a CD single replica of the original "Born to Run" 45 single.[42]

The box set debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart on December 3, 2005 at number 18 with sales of 53,206 copies.[44]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Bruce Springsteen

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Thunder Road"   4:49
2. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"   3:11
3. "Night"   3:00
4. "Backstreets"   6:30
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Born to Run"   4:31
2. "She's the One"   4:30
3. "Meeting Across the River"   3:18
4. "Jungleland"   9:34

Unreleased outtakes[edit]

There are currently seven known outtakes from the album. Out of those seven, "Linda Let Me Be the One" and "So Young and In Love" were released on the Tracks box set. Rough mixes of the unreleased songs "Walking in the Street" and "Lonely Night in the Park" surfaced in 2005 when they made their debut on E Street Radio. "Janey Needs a Shooter" would later be re-worked during other album sessions and at one point given to Warren Zevon to record.[45]

  • Walking in the Street (aka Lovers in the Cold)
  • Lonely Night in the Park
  • A Love So Fine
  • A Night Like This
  • Janey Needs a Shooter


The E Street Band[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]



Chart positions[edit]


Year Chart Position Notes
1975 US Record World 1
1975 US Billboard 200 3
1975 UK Album Chart 36
1980 US Billboard 200 66 re-entry
1985 US Billboard 200 101 re-entry
1985 UK Album Chart 17 re-entry
2005 US Billboard 200 18 Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition


Year Single Chart Position
1975 "Born to Run" US Billboard Hot 100 23
1975 "Born to Run" US Cash Box Top 100 Singles 17
1976 "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" US Billboard Hot 100 83
1976 "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" US Cash Box Top 100 Singles 63


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Richardson, Mark (November 18, 2005). "Bruce Springsteen Born to Run: 30th Anniversary Edition > Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 1 June 2006. 
  3. ^ Born to Run album credits (1975)
  4. ^ Fricke, David (January 21, 2009). "The Band on Bruce: Their Springsteen". Archived from the original on 1 April 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2009. 
  5. ^ Edwards, Henry. "If There Hadn't Been a Bruce Springsteen, Then the Critics Would Have Made Him Up; The Invention Of Bruce Springsteen" New York Times October 5, 1975: 125
  6. ^ Rockwell, John. "The Pop Life; 'Hype' and the Springsteen Case" New York Times October 24, 1975: 34
  7. ^ "Random Notes" Rolling Stone January 1, 1976: 21
  8. ^ Clarke, Donald. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (1990): 1109
  9. ^ "Top LPs & Tape" Billboard September 13, 1975: 72
  10. ^ "Top LPs & Tape" Billboard November 15, 1980: 99
  11. ^ "Top 200 Albums" Billboard December 22, 1984: 81
  12. ^ "Top Pop Albums" Billboard December 28, 1985: 89
  13. ^ "CBS Gets Pre-1976 Certs" Billboard December 13, 1986: 67
  14. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Born to Run at AllMusic. Retrieved 8 July 2004.
  15. ^ Kot, Greg (August 23, 1992). "The Recorded History of Springsteen". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  17. ^ Williams, Richard (December 1989). "All or Nothing: The Springsteen back catalogue". Q. p. 149. 
  18. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Bruce Springsteen". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 771–773. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.  Portions posted at "Bruce Springsteen > Album Guide". Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  19. ^ Freeman, Channing (June 22, 2011). "Bruce Springsteen Born To Run > Staff Review". sputnikmusic. Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  20. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 22, 1975). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  21. ^ Masur, Louis P. (August 21, 2005). "The long run with Springsteen". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  22. ^ Marcus, Greil (October 9, 1975). "Born to Run". Rolling Stone (New York). Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  23. ^ Rockwell, John (August 29, 1975). "Springsteen's Rock Poetry At Its Best". The New York Times. p. 11. 
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  32. ^ Barry A. Jeckell (2003-09-23). "Born To Run' Tops Zagat Music Survey". Billboard. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  33. ^ "Librarian of Congress Names 50 New Recordings to the National Recording Registry". The Library Today. The Library of Congress. March 19, 2004. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  34. ^ Senate Shows the Boss Who's Boss
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External links[edit]