Born to Run (song)

Born to Run (song)

Infobox Single
Name = Born to Run

Artist = Bruce Springsteen
from Album = Born to Run
Released = August 25, 1975
Format = 7"
Recorded = 914 Sound Studios
Blauvelt, New York
up to August 6, 1974
Genre = Rock
Length = 4:30
Label = CBS Records
Producer = Bruce Springsteen
Mike Appel
Reviews =
Last single = "Spirit in the Night"
This single = "Born to Run/Meeting Across the River"
Next single = "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out/She's the One"

"Born to Run" is the signature song of the American singer songwriter Bruce Springsteen, and the title song of his album "Born to Run".


Written in a small house in Long Branch, New Jersey in early 1974, the song was Bruce Springsteen's last-ditch effort to make it big. The prior year, Springsteen had released two albums to critical acclaim but with little commercial success. The lyrics to the song are appropriately epic for his last-ditch, all-or-nothing shot at the stars, yet they remain rooted in the universal desperation of adolescence: "We gotta get out while we're young, 'cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run."

Written in the first person, the song is a love letter to a girl named Wendy ("Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend I wanna guard your dreams and visions...; I wanna die with you Wendy on the streets tonight/in an everlasting kiss!"), for whom the motorcycle-riding protagonist certainly has enough passion to love, but perhaps not the patience. However, Springsteen has noted that it has a much simpler core: getting out of Asbury Park.

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.

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.


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.

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-FM 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.

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

In 2004, "Born to Run" was ranked #6 in WXPN's list of "The 885 All-Time Greatest Songs". Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time placed it at #21, while the song came in at #920 in Q's list of the "1001 Greatest Songs Ever" in 2003, in which they described the song as "best for working class heroes." It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2001 the RIAA's Songs of the Century placed the song 135th (out of 365). It was ranked the #1 greatest song of all time on Vh1's recent Top 1000 Songs Of All Time countdown.

On June 12, 1979, "Born to Run" was named New Jersey's "Unofficial Youth Rock Anthem" by the New Jersey State Legislature, something Springsteen always considered ironic because it was "about leaving Jersey."

Track listing

#Born to Run - 4:31
#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

"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 and album-oriented rock radio stations, but as a pop single it was only a minor hit, reaching #23 on the The Billboard Hot 100. [Nielsen Business Media Inc.. 1/5/08 [.] ]

Live performance history

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 five albums or DVDs:
*A 1975 Born to Run Tour rendition on "Hammersmith Odeon London '75", released in 2006;
*A 1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour runthrough on "Live/1975-85", released in 1986;
*A starkly different 1988 solo acoustic guitar performance from the Tunnel of Love Express on "Chimes of Freedom", a 1988 EP;
*A 2000 E-United Tour version on "", released in 2001 (the song closes disc one but does not appear on the track listing of the album cover);
*A 2002 Rising Tour take on the "Live in Barcelona" DVD, released in 2003.

Music videos

"Born to Run" predates the music video era and no film or video clip was made of it at the time.

In 1987 a video was released to MTV and other channels, featuring a live performance of "Born to Run" from Springsteen and the E Street Band's 1984-1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour, with the video interspersed with clips from other songs' performances from that tour as well. It closed with a "Thank you" graphic to Springsteen's fans.

In 1988 director Meiert Avis shot a video of an acoustic version of the song during the Tunnel of Love Express tour.

Both videos are included in the compilations:
*Video Anthology / 1978-88
*The Complete Video Anthology / 1978-2000

Cultural references

In 1999, National Public Radio included the song in the "NPR 100," in which NPR's music editors sought to compile the one hundred most important American musical works of the 20th century.

The children's show "Sesame Street" featured a song about arithmetic called "Born To Add", sung by a Springsteen-like Muppet. Its background music, however, sounded more like Springsteen's "Jungleland", though it did feature a "Born to Run"-ish saxophone solo. The British comedy program "Spitting Image" once featured a Bruce Springsteen puppet singing a parody entitled "Born To Teach Woodwork".

In the Japanese novel "Battle Royale", the main character Shuya Nanahara is a Bruce Springsteen fanatic, despite the fictional Republic of East Asia's ban on rock music. The lyrics to "Born to Run" are quoted a few times in the book, as Shuya applies them to his own need to get out of Japan, down to singing them, replacing Wendy with his Noriko, in the very closing of the book. They also appear in the opening quotes of the book.

In an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000", Joel Robinson chides Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot for teaching Gypsy some racy lyrics ("Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims / and strap your hands across my engines") from "Born to Run".

In "Long Term Parking", an episode of "The Sopranos", Tony Soprano and Silvio Dante are waiting for Christopher Moltisanti to arrive; when he shows up late he explains that "the highway was jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive," quoting the lyrics to "Born to Run". Dante is played by E Street bandmate Steven Van Zandt.

Melissa Etheridge sang "Born to Run" at the September 11th benefit The Concert for New York City. Australian band Something for Kate are known to perform a cover of "Born to Run" at frequent live performances. British band Frankie Goes to Hollywood covered the song on their album "Welcome to the Pleasuredome". British band McFly also performed the song for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on the 10th of December 2007.

In one strip of "Zits", Jeremy Duncan's father, Walt, sings the song while washing his car, wearing flip-flops and his boxers.

Comedian Robert Wuhl discussed and performed parts of this song in his act inquiring as to whether a song with the phrases 'suicide machine' and 'we gotta get out (of New Jersey?) while we're young' was appropriate for a state anthem.

Indie-rock musician and "talking-songs" creator Adam Gnade ends his single "We Live Nowhere and Know No One" with the line "because Bruce had it right and Johnny had it wrong/we're not born to lose/we're born to run." The "Johnny" referred to in the song is late musician and New York Dolls member Johnny Thunders who wrote the song "Born to Lose."

Vagrant Records band The Hold Steady reference "Born to Run" on their song "Charlemange in Sweatpants," with the line "tramps like us and we like tramps."


External links

* [ "'Born to Run' review"] , "AllMusic".
* [ Lyrics & Audio clips from]

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