Surfing the world wide web on a coffee break, I came across this amazing little video on Pitchfork, a five-minute retrospective on the making of Born To Run. The record was Bruce Springsteen’s third studio album and as the video illustrates, it was a last ditch effort to catapult himself into the stratosphere. Springsteen confessed the seminal record had proved a maturation point citing it was "the album where I left behind my adolescent definitions of love and freedom—it was the dividing line."
I soaked up Springsteen's memoir a couple years ago and was captivated at his honesty, his ability to examine his life choices with colourful clarity. Listening to Springsteen regale tales from his childhood was immensely satisfying. He has such a gift for storytelling, allowing audiences the opportunity to walk in his well-worn shoes.
Springsteen was a dreamer, a blue collar kid from the New Jersey ‘burbs who wanted more than his lot. He was a dog with a bone, never letting go no matter how high he climbed. He helped formed The Castiles, a high-school rock & roll act in his teens, naming themselves after his favourite soap brand and would play in a few other rag-tag iterations before launching himself front and center as the main attraction.
His constant hustle would eventually score him a meeting with the legendary John Hammond, the revered talent scout who had gifted Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan with their big break. The fortuitous meeting led him to sign with Columbia Records and while its executives were expecting an acoustic sound, Springsteen had other ideas. Piling his band mates into the recording studio, he inadvertently gave birth to the acclaimed E Street Band on Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Springsteen is an anomaly in the music business, a figure whose diligence and dedication was more closely aligned with a Hollywood celebrity than a rock star. Following the same exercise regimen for the past three decades, Springsteen remains a beacon of health. As Steven Van Zandt, Springsteen’s childhood friend and founding member of the E street band complains; “He has practically the same waist size as when I met him, when we were fifteen,”
Prior to devouring his tell-all confessional, I had only enjoyed Springsteen’s music from a distance. That all changed after diving into his discography. I began to trace certain patterns, similar lines of thought about his upbringing and place in the modern world.
His subsequent recordings Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River and the overlooked Nebraska are top-shelf creations but all pale in the shadow of Born in the U.S.A. The 1984 recordings broke the bank, an action-packed testosterone driven album that accurately summed up the Reagan years. The whole shebang, including the iconic Annie Liebovitz album cover would make Springsteen a household name.
Check out this amazing behind the scenes of Dancing in the Dark, his music video directed by the one & only Brian De Palma. If his infectious enthusiasm doesn't bring a smile to your dial it's high time you took a long walk off a short pier.