Almanac Book Review: Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen - Born to Run

Springsteen – Born to Run

Born To Run

Bruce Springsteen

Simon & Schuster



Bruce Springsteen grew up with his American Dream that looked unfathomable, unachievable and out of his reach. For Springsteen, his dream featured girls, blues music, guitars, cars and freedom. In a family home where Springsteen felt little in terms of support or affection from his father, the isolation would have been debilitating. A frozen moment with little hope for the future. Steering that beat up Cadillac forward to 2016 and Springsteen is the biggest name on rock and roll music in the world; a survivor, an innovator, a New Jersey local who beat the odds and provided a soundtrack for upwardly mobile types and the downtrodden since the 1970s.


While Springsteen was working on the Born To Run album in the 70s he took comfort, solace in the music of Roy Orbison, of Elvis, of 1950s rockers. That was his soundtrack. Springsteen had found an ‘in’ to that world through the music and sounds of his peers and heroes. It was an album that was difficult, complex and the recording process the same. But it was a turning point. With a guitar slung over one shoulder and a crack band behind him, Springsteen put it all on the line.


1984’s ‘Born In The USA’ was a gigantic follow up to the sombreness of ‘Nebraska’, an antidote to the blues two years previous. But many of the tracks to feature on BITUSA were written around the same time, with standout track Dancing In The Dark coming later, more jaunt than haunt. The album and subsequent tour underlined Springsteen’s career trajectory. Rocker and balladeer to stadium superstar. It was exhausting, and in Springsteen’s own mind did harm rather than good. Not that the money made wasn’t helpful. For anyone to continue to live their dreams money seems fairly essential. On 1987’s ‘Tunnel Of Love’, as close to a Springsteen solo album as we’d come to at that point, Springsteen has a new love, a new perspective. His ill-conceived marriage was finished, a flicking ember all that remained at the end of the Born tour. A new maturity emerged. The cars, and girls and sex and rock needed refining, needed to mellow, as did Bruce. His later work reflects that change in attitude and direction. But in 2016, as Springsteen releases his new autobiography Born To Run it’s clear his popularity hasn’t altered, only grown. His band has grown with him.


While many have been in awe of the staying power of a band like The Rolling Stones, Springsteen’s career has had more traction, more meaning, more depth and less fluff; music is the king – the rest just a sideshow. And his relevance, mystique and desire to write another enduring track continues.


Born To Run is a song we’ve never heard, a perspective we didn’t consider. And Springsteen a writer with a trait all fine writers need: economy.


Few artists have maintained such integrity, such high standards as Springsteen. His music, his words – oh his words speak to all; from dock worker to business-suited stockbroker. Strip away the bark and the roots are all that remain. In all of us.






Leave a Comment