Why ‘Born to Run’ Is Bruce Springsteen’s Best Album of All Time

He’s been performing live since before 1973, and he’s delivered 21 albums in his decades-long and ultra-successful career. But when it comes down to ranking those 21 albums, nothing hits quite like the 1975 classic Born To Run.

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So what is it about this pop/folk rock album that won so many hearts through the years? To put it simply, the record is Springsteen at his most savvy; and his most risky.

Bruce Spingsteen’s Legacy is in ‘Born To Run’

The first two albums that Bruce Springsteen put out were, for lack of a better word, commercial flops. He was at a point in his career where he had to put out something that mainstream rock audiences would love, or it would be over for him. 

Springsteen started working on the title track for Born To Run a year before the album was released. And there was a lot of pressure to put out something life-changing.

“I had these enormous ambitions for it,” Springsteen said in a Rolling Stone interview from 2005. “I wanted to make the greatest rock record that I’d ever heard, I wanted it to sound enormous, to grab you by your throat and insist that you take that ride, insist that you pay attention… not just to the music, but to life, to being alive.”

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And Bruce Springsteen was successful in that with the release of Born To Run. 

After cutting the song in the studio with his E Street Band, he lost a couple of band members and was running out of cash. Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau stepped in to help produce the album. He also moved Springsteen and the E Street Band to a better studio.

It was a smart move that changed Springsteen’s career forever. Born To Run is Spingstreen’s masterpiece that follows a loose narrative around a particularly hot and humid day in New York and New Jersey. It’s not the most unique concept, but Springsteen managed to do something special with it. 

Born To Run captured the dreams of a very particular generation of young people who were struggling with the political climate of 1975, a seemingly endless war, and poverty.  Springsteen figured out how to romanticize American aesthetics without being overly patriotic. He stuck to the tried and true vibe of rock and roll. And his passionate vocals set him apart from the rest.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

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