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Born To Run

Born to Run (Front Cover).jpg

Bruce Springsteen

1975

For someone whose first introduction to Bruce Springsteen was "Born In The USA", traveling backwards in his catalog has always been a bit of a grind.  Not only was "Born In The USA" my first Springsteen album, it was literally one of my first records ever, as my parents owned it on vinyl and played it regularly when I was about 2-3 years old.

Most old-school/hardcore Springsteen fans are dismissive of that record, and it's easy to understand why when compared to his grittier classic 70s albums.  Born to Run is pretty much universally accepted as the pinnacle of Springsteen's 70s work, and many consider it to be his best album overall.  That's largely because it captures a certain period of time, a certain feeling that was apparently prevalent in the downtrodden psyche of mid-70s America.  The feeling that the American dream was slipping away, and that good, honest, hardworking people were struggling to recognize a world that just a decade earlier seemed so vibrant and full of potential.   

That theme certainly runs heavy through Born To Run, but what really makes this album such a gut-punch of a listening experience is the deeper undercurrent of capitalizing on your youth before it slips away.  That sense of desperation and yearning is the real essence of Born to Run.  Springsteen belts out tales of hardworking, blue-collar urban-dwellers just trying to get the most out of their everyday existence, but he sings with such passion, and the E Street Band contributes so much soul to the music that the results truly flirt with greatness at times.  There's a certain gritty romanticism to these songs, not just specific to love and relationships, but romanticism of the up-hill struggle, the grind, the highs and lows of life.  It's a celebration of all the tramps, failures, dreamers, and vagabonds out there who are living life passionately in spite of all the setbacks and disappointments it inevitably throws at you.  Born to Run is an ode those people, and it's the musical embodiment of the everyday struggle and strife that many people fight head-on in pursuit of their dreams.

So in other words, there's something very human about this album.  Sure, sometimes Springsteen's vocals are a little cringe-worthy, and sometimes the music itself is a little too disjointed/arrhythmic, but overall it sure as hell is delivered with an incredible amount of heart, passion, and soul.  It captures a certain feeling that many people have experienced in their lives, but none can fully explain.  That feeling of youth slipping away and the desperate attempts to recapture it.  The yearning for something more, something better, in all facets of life.  That's what makes Born to Run such a compelling, human album.  The ability to convey that struggle so passionately and with so much heart.

8.7

Born In The U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen

1984

I've been a music fan for a long time.  In fact, I used to sit in my baby swing and listen to Christmas records year-round, as well as a couple of other records my Mom & Dad had on vinyl.  Born In the U.S.A was one of those records, so a lot of songs on this album bring back some of the earliest memories I can remember ("I'm On Fire" in particular).  "Glory Days", "Dancing In The Dark" as well as the title track are bonafide classics that helped define a decade, but those aren't the only highlights on Born In The U.S.A.  "Darlington County" is pure Americana, but songs like "Cover Me", "Downbound Train", and "I'm Goin Down" really showcase the album's gritty, hard-times, blue-collar-centric soul.  It's an interesting dichotomy, because the overall sound of the album is very clean, featuring the type of overly-processed, pop-oriented sound that was common for the era.  But make no mistake, this album has a lot of heart (this is Springsteen we're talking about here) and that's ultimately what makes this album so great.  Springsteen was able to make an album that sounded fantastic, and had memorable catchy songs, without sacrificing his trademark grit and passion.  The result is a resilient-sounding, nostalgic, and uplifting album, easily one of the best from the 80s, and my personal favorite from The Boss.

9.0

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