Today, August 25, marks the 45th anniversary of the release of Born to Run, the album that helped catapult Bruce Springsteen to stardom. Born to Run features many of The Boss’ best-known songs, including “Thunder Road,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Backstreets,” “Jungleland” and, of course, the classic title track, a top-40 hit in 1975.
At the time Springsteen recorded Born to Run, he’d released two critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing albums and was worried about being dropped by his label, Columbia Records. His ambitious vision for Born to Run involved combining the elements that made his earlier work compelling — poetic lyrics with a heart of classic rock ‘n’ roll — while adding big, multi-layered arrangements.
As Springsteen famously put it in 1987, “I wanted to make a record with words like Bob Dylan, that sounded like Phil Spector‘s productions, but most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison.”
Thematically, Bruce crafted heartfelt songs about blue-collar life and the desire to escape a dead-end existence. He spent 14 months recording the project, six of which were spent on the title track alone.
During the recording, Bruce’s E Street Band underwent some lineup changes: Roy Bittan replaced original keyboardist David Sancious and Max Weinberg took over for drummer Ernest “Boom” Carter. Springsteen’s old pal, guitarist and singer Steven Van Zandt, contributed to the album, and would soon join the group as a full-time member.
Born to Run brought Springsteen additional critical acclaim, but also the commercial acceptance that he needed. He made the covers of both TIME and Newsweek, and the album reached #3 on the Billboard 200. It’s since gone on to sell more than six million copies in the U.S. alone, and is considered one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
By Matt Friedlander
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