Bruce Springsteen playing “Born To Run” is pretty much as holy roller as my life gets. Music is my heart and soul, after all. A song like “Born To Run” is the greatest hymn for those who think that, with its grandiose wall of sound production, insane Clarence Clemons solo, and of course, lyrics about cars and sex. All the best music in the world is about cars and sex. Rock and roll is the genre of teenage boys. Their passions dominate.
Both the album and song are just too good for this world. Yeah, maybe Nebraska gets the hipster glory, and Born in the U.S.A. gets the commercial gold star, but just the title track on this album alone makes and breaks the Boss and his E Street Band. Never would they be as magnificent as they were here. From the explosive guitar rift, Max Weinberg’s crisp drumming, or the incredible sax solo by the late and great Clarence Clemons, it is simply pure joy. This is the closest rock and roll gets to proving God.
Aside from having what is simply the best song ever written about cars and girls this side of the early Beach Boys, this album has other incredible moments. Like “Thunder Road”, with its beautiful piano and Bruce’s melancholic lyrics. Or “Jungleland”, with the brief violins and that impossibly perfect Clemons sax solo and that epic Wall of Sound. Or the semi-autobiographical “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”‘s melody, which just insists you join in. The fifties blues shuffle of “She’s The One”? The church of “Backstreets”? The great bass line of “Night”? Why doesn’t Garry Tallent get more credit? The jazzy trumpet and piano of “Meeting Across The River”? What is there to hate here? Really?
The album almost defines the word “Flawless”, with nary a musical misstep. One big criticism from detractors ( who are all idiots) is the sameness of the song’s lyrical themes. Yes, the album is mostly first person narratives about girls and a car told in flashback. So what? Shut up. You write a song as good as “Born To Run”, then we’ll talk.
Until then, just listen to that sax solo one more time from “Jungleland”, and just try not to weep knowing Clarence Clemons is no longer on this earth to play it again. If you manage to do that, you are a heartless bastard and I don’t even want to be your friend.