Breaking News

#ThrowbackThursday: “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

by Sean Smith

Bruce Springsteen kicked off the U.S. leg of his The River Tour 2016 with a show in his native New Jersey this week. The Boss played the first of three shows at MetLife Stadium on Tuesday night and will play a string of East Coast dates over the coming weeks, with the final show of the tour coming on September 14 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.

The Rock and Roll and Songwriters Hall of Fame member is preparing to release his autobiography, Born to Run, which will be released via publishing powerhouse Simon & Schuster on September 27. In his book, Springsteen recounts stories about his rise from playing local bars in Asbury Park to playing sold out shows around the world with the E Street Band.

In conjunction with the release of his autobiography, Bruce Springsteen is releasing an album that will serve as a companion to the book. The album is called Chapter & Verse and it will be released September 23, on Columbia Records. The 18 track project includes five previously unreleased songs, with Springsteen selecting songs for the record that go along with the themes and sections of the autobiography.

While fans of the Boss eagerly await the release of the Born to Run autobiography and its companion album Chapter & Verse, fans should take a moment today to commemorate what was a very significant event in the making of Springsteen’s career. On this date in 1975, Bruce Springsteen released his third album Born to Run. That album was his first to be commercially successful, reaching as high as the #3 spot on the Billboard 200 album chart. With this week’s edition of #tbt here on, we are going to take a moment to remember the title single from Bruce Springsteen’s 1975 breakthrough album.

The song “Born to Run” was officially released as a lead single on the same day the entire album was released. However, that was not the first time people may have heard “Born to Run” played on the radio. An early mix of the song was given to Philadelphia rock station WMMR in November of 1974 and it received regular airplay thanks to listeners connecting with the song. “Born to Run” was soon distributed to a few other stations in other cities, like WBCN in Boston, WMMS in Cleveland, and WNEW in New York. The song was also received well by listeners in those cities and quickly made its way into regular rotation in those places as well. Upon its official nationwide release in 1975, “Born to Run” became Bruce Springsteen’s first Top 40 hit. It peaked at the #23 position on the Billboard Hot 100 mainstream pop chart.

It’s important to note the types of markets the initial rough cut of “Born to Run” was distributed to a year before it’s official release. Philadelphia. Boston. Cleveland. and New York. These were cities populated with blue collar people. Factory workers. In the 1970s a lot of those blue collar jobs were starting to leave town, and people began to struggle. So when Bruce Springsteen released “Born to Run” early to those cities in 1974, of course it became popular with that listenership. The song speaks directly to the sentiments being felt by many working class folks at that time, a feeling of wanting to escape. Just read the lyrics to the first verse:

In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway nine,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin’ out over the line
H-Oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run”

When you look at the message in “Born to Run,” and take into account the loss of many blue collar jobs that had previously provided workers with a comfortable middle class lifestyle, it should come as no surprise that it was that single which propelled Bruce Springsteen into the mainstream. It resonated with a large middle class working audience, which remarkably is the very same audience that he continues to resonate with today some 40 years later.

So this week we take a moment to remember Bruce Springsteen’s breakthrough single “Born to Run.” Enjoy.

Bruce Springsteen

“Born to Run” (Official Music Video)

Columbia Records