Album Review: Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
The albums released up until now have been filled with artists on the decline and up-and-comers who have a ways to go before they secure the spotlight. Bruce Springsteen, however, has paid his dues for a couple years, releasing two albums in 1973 and heavily touring to promote both of them. There will not be another release this month, or even this whole year, that will be able to touch what Springsteen has composed for Born to Run .
The opening harmonic, piano driven “Thunder Road” builds from the first second until the band surrenders to hearty guitars that lay subtlety over the rhythm section. The addition of Max Weinberg on drums exhibits his fortitude as he positions himself to be the backbone of Springsteen’s writing. In the opening drum trac,k it is Weinberg who sets the stage for the shortest song that appears on Born to Run , motivating the feel as Springsteen hurls vocals into the microphone.
This is the first reference to Clarence Clemons being ‘the big man’ in the lyrics of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” Clemons’s haunting fills on “Meeting Across the River” meet the song’s need, giving quiet reflection to the lyrical content. He is invaluable to Springsteen’s writing as he has the ability to touch those same places the composer envisions.
The piano needed some life, and Roy Brittan is the perfect extension of the sound Bruce Springsteen writes toward. Brittan keeps the pace as Springsteen delivers declarations in “Backstreets” where he tells the story of two friends who meet and tear up the town with misspent youth. The final verse leaves the story open to the listener’s own interpretation. “Laying here in the dark, you’re like an angel on my chest”, could this mean that Terry (the friend) is lays dead over Springsteen while he drifts in thought of the things they have done? Up to now the record has forged a storyline, with each track advancing the adventure between two friends.
This record, as with those that went before, is a dedication to one name and although this release scatters different names in each song, it is clear that ‘Mary’ is the female counterpart to the Springsteen character. Every character’s name that appears rhymes with Mary such as Wendy, Terry and Eddie. It is “Born to Run” that switches gears as Terry is now possibly gone, and Bruce looks to find the girl that is as ravaged from life as he and begins to court her with thoughts of getting out. This is another theme that most storytellers only wish they could pen as well as Springsteen, touching on emotions of those whose life may never get past the factory line. ANTHEM ANTHEM ANTHEM!
Now finishing up the first half, of the second side “She’s the One” is a young boy’s visual beauty of a girl that he can not turn away from. She’s the girl that is between tomboy and princess who is out of reach but continues to dwell in the subconsciousness of the writer. He dives deep to compose this passionate love song that the male character insights his female counterpart to take the bull by the horns “to leave it all behind, And to break on through, Oh she can take you, But if she wants to break you, She’s gonna find out that ain’t easy to do” he knows that no matter if she chooses him or not, it will always be her. She will hold his heart until he takes his last breath. Whether it be today or 50 years from now, her face will be his last thought.
The nine minute, thirty-four second finale “Jungleland” is like the final chapter in a book or the or last scene in a movie. It is a storyteller’s dream ending with some good guys surviving and some bad guys getting what they deserve. When the piano diminishes to where the listener is barely able to hear it, Springsteen verbally visualizes the slow motion each character takes.
Nowhere in 1975 will there be a better release than Brice Springsteen’s storytelling genius on Born to Run .