Culture Wikia

<templatestyles src="Hlist/styles.css"></templatestyles><templatestyles src="Plainlist/styles.css"></templatestyles><templatestyles src="Module:Infobox/styles.css"></templatestyles>

"Born to Run"
Song by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Born to Run
B-side"Meeting Across the River"
ReleasedAugust 25, 1975 (1975-08-25)
Songwriter(s)Bruce Springsteen
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Mike Appel
<templatestyles src="Module:Infobox/styles.css"></templatestyles>

"Born to Run" is a song by American singer songwriter Bruce Springsteen, and the title song of his album Born to Run. Upon its release, music critic Robert Christgau took note of its wall of sound influence and called it "the fulfillment of everything 'Be My Baby' was about and lots more."[5]

The song ranked number 21 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[6]


Written at 7½ West End Court in Long Branch, New Jersey in early 1974, the song was Bruce Springsteen's final attempt to become successful. The prior year, Springsteen had released two albums to critical acclaim but with little commercial movement.

Written in the first person, the song is a love letter to a girl named Wendy, for whom the hot-rod-riding protagonist seems to possess the passion to love, just not the patience. However, Springsteen has noted that it has a much simpler core: getting out of Freehold. U.S. Route 9 is mentioned from the lyric "sprung from cages out on Highway 9".

In his 1996 book Songs, Springsteen relates that while the beginning of the song was written on guitar around the opening riff, the song's writing was finished on piano, the instrument that most of the Born to Run album was composed on. The song was recorded in the key of E major.

In the period prior to the release of Born to Run Springsteen was becoming well-known (especially in his native northeast) for his epic live shows. "Born to Run" joined his concert repertoire well before the release of the album, being performed in concert by May 1974, if not earlier.

The first recording of the song was made by Allan Clarke of the British group The Hollies, although its release was delayed, only appearing after Springsteen's own now-famous version.


In recording the song Springsteen first earned his noted reputation for perfectionism, laying down as many as eleven guitar tracks to get the sound just right. The recording process and alternate ideas for the song's arrangement are described in the Wings For Wheels documentary DVD included in the 2005 reissue Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition package.

The track was recorded at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York amidst touring breaks during 1974, with final recording done on August 6, well in advance of the rest of the album, and featured Ernest "Boom" Carter on the drums and David Sancious on keyboards; they would be replaced by Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan for the rest of the album and in the ongoing E Street Band (which was still uncredited on Springsteen's records at the time). The song was also recorded with only Springsteen and Mike Appel as producers; it would be later in the following year, when work on the album bogged down, that Jon Landau was brought in as an additional producer. Future record executive Jimmy Iovine engineered the majority of the sessions.

A pre-release version of the song, with a slightly different mix, was given by Appel to disc jockey Ed Sciaky of WMMR in Philadelphia in early November 1974, and within a couple of weeks was given to other progressive rock radio outlets as well, including WNEW-FM in New York, WMMS in Cleveland, WBCN in Boston, and WVBR in Ithaca, New York. It immediately became quite popular on these stations, and led to cuts from Springsteen's first two albums being frequently played as well as building anticipation for the album release.[7]

Upon release in August 1975, the song and the album became unparalleled successes for Springsteen, springing him into stardom, and resulting in simultaneous cover stories in Time and Newsweek magazines.

Music videos[]

No music video was made for the original release of "Born to Run", as they had not achieved significant popularity at the time.

  • In 1987, a video was released to MTV and other channels, featuring a live performance of "Born to Run" from Springsteen and the E Street Band's 1984-1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour, interspersed with clips of other songs' performances from the same tour. It closed with a "Thank you" message to Springsteen's fans.
  • In 1988, director Meiert Avis shot a video of an acoustic version of the song during the Tunnel of Love Express tour.

Both videos are included in the compilations Video Anthology / 1978-88 and The Complete Video Anthology / 1978-2000.


  • In 2016, "Born to Run" was ranked #16 in Pitchfork's list of "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s"[8]
  • In 2004, the song was ranked #6 in WXPN's list of The 885 All-Time Greatest Songs.
  • Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time placed it at #21.
  • The song came in at #920 in Q's list of the "1001 Greatest Songs Ever" in 2003, in which they described the song as "best for working class heroes."
  • It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[9]
  • In 2001, the RIAA's Songs of the Century placed the song 135th (out of 365).
  • In 1999, National Public Radio included the song in the "NPR 100", NPR's music editors' compilation of the one hundred most important American musical works of the 20th century.[10]

Live performances[]


House lights on for a typical performance of "Born to Run". Hartford Civic Center, October 2, 2007.


"Born to Run" in its home state of New Jersey. Izod Center, May 21, 2009.

The song has been played at nearly every non-solo Springsteen concert since 1975 (although it was not included in the 2006 Sessions Band Tour). Most of the time the house lights are turned fully on and fans consistently sing along with Springsteen's signature wordless vocalizations throughout the song's performance.

The song has also been released in live versions on six albums or DVDs:

  • A 1975 Born to Run Tour rendition on Hammersmith Odeon London '75, released in 2006;
  • A 1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour runthrough on Live/1975-85, released in 1986;
  • A starkly different 1988 solo acoustic guitar performance from the Tunnel of Love Express on Chimes of Freedom, a 1988 EP;
  • A 2000 Reunion Tour version on Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live In New York City, released in 2001 (the song closes disc one but does not appear on the track listing of the album cover);
  • A 2002 Rising Tour take on the Live in Barcelona DVD, released in 2003.
  • A 2009 Working on a Dream Tour performance on the DVD London Calling: Live in Hyde Park which was released in 2010.

"Born to Run" was also performed as the second number of four during Springsteen and the E Street Band's halftime performance at Super Bowl XLIII.

On Jon Stewart's last episode as host of The Daily Show on August 6, 2015, Springsteen performed "Land of Hope and Dreams" and "Born to Run".


  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood covered this song in their debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome in 1984.
  • A Finnish rock singer Pate Mustajärvi covered this song with Finnish lyrics in 1986. The song title is "Synnyimme lähtemään".
  • Big Daddy, a band that specializes in recording popular modern songs in 1950s-style arrangements, performed a drastically re-arranged cover of "Born to Run" on their 1991 album Cutting Their Own Groove.
  • Wolfsbane has a heavy metal cover of this song on their 1993 EP "Everything Else"
  • Suzi Quatro covered this song in 1995.
  • Frank Turner covered the song on his 2015 compilation, The Third Three Years.

Live covers[]

  • Melissa Etheridge sang "Born to Run" at the September 11 benefit, The Concert for New York City, and again at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, where she performed the song for Springsteen himself, one of the Center's honorees for that year.
  • British band, McFly, performed the song for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on December 10, 2007.
  • The Australian band, Something for Kate, frequently covers "Born to Run" at live performances.
  • A rare live recording of Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, singing "Born to Run" at a live solo performance appears on his greatest-hits/rarities collection "Gold".
  • Light This City recorded their take on Born To Run during the recording of their final record, "Stormchaser", the track was featured on their Myspace for a time and can be found on YouTube as well.
  • Scottish singer Amy Macdonald performed an acoustic version on recent tours.
  • Ohio based acoustic group Free Wild performed a cover version of this song in their 2011 and 2012 tours, often finishing the song with a Springsteen inspired version of the children's song "Itsy Bitsy Spider".
  • Eric Church tagged "Born to Run" in the middle of his own hit song "Springsteen" during his 2012-13 tour.
  • On August 25, 2015, the 40th anniversary of Born to Run's release, indie rock band Superchunk shared a live cover of the title track. This performance also featured ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and Crooked Fingers.[11]

Track listing[]

  1. "Born to Run" - 4:31
  2. "Meeting Across the River" - 3:18

The B-side was simply another cut from the album; Springsteen would not begin releasing unused tracks as B-sides until 1980.


  • Bruce Springsteen – electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
  • Garry Tallent – bass guitar
  • Ernest "Boom" Carter – drums
  • David Sancious – piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, synthesizer
  • Danny Federici – Hammond organ, glockenspiel
  • Clarence Clemons – tenor saxophone
  • Uncredited - tambourines, strings, brass

In popular culture[]

  • At the end of The Office (UK TV series) episode "The Quiz", David Brent triumphantly air-guitars the song's famous opening in celebration of a supposed victory in a trivia quiz challenge. He further references it by saying "Born to Run, the Slough branch".
  • The children's show Sesame Street featured a song about arithmetic called "Born to Add", sung by a Muppet modeled on Springsteen.
  • Jimmy Fallon opened the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards with a cover of the song, featuring Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Cory Monteith, Chris Colfer, Kate Gosselin, Nina Dobrev, Joel McHale, Jorge Garcia, Randy Jackson and Tim Gunn.
  • The popular 2009 book about running Born to Run by Christopher McDougall was named after the song, and the lyrics are also quoted at the start of one chapter.
  • In John Niven's novel The second Coming, the main character (Jesus) performs Born to Run live during an American Idol-like casting show.[12]
  • The song was available as downloadable content for the video game Guitar Hero World Tour on January 27, 2009, along with "My Lucky Day", as part of the Bruce Springsteen Pack.
  • The song is played at the start of the post-parade before the annual Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey.[13]
  • The Summer Set make mention to the song in their January 21, 2016 release of "Figure Me Out."
  • The Futurama Episode 31st Century Fox makes a reference to the song. As the Planet Express crew heads tp New Jersey, a highway sign reads "Highway jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive".
  • In The Sopranos season 5 episode 12 Long Term Parking, Tony asks Christopher why he's late for a meeting. Moltisanti answers "highway was jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power-drive."
  • The song is used in Lilyhammer, when Roy is seen using a mobility scooter as he is no longer able to walk unaided
  • The song is referenced in the novel Battle Royale and its manga adaption.

Chart performance[]

"Born to Run" was Springsteen's first worldwide single release, although it achieved little initial success outside of the United States.

Within the U.S. it received extensive airplay on progressive or album-oriented rock radio stations and the single was a top 40 hit, reaching number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.[14]


  1. Robert Wiersema (2011). Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen. Greystone Books Ltd. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-55365-845-0.
  2. Susie Derkins (2002). Bruce Springsteen. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8239-3522-2.
  3. Basham, Peter (2005). The Pocket Essential: Bruce Springsteen. Oldcastle Books. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-9030-4797-2.
  4. John M. Borack (2007). Shake Some Action - The Ultimate Guide To Power Pop. Not Lame Recording Company. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-9797714-0-8.
  5. Christgau, Robert (September 22, 1975). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2008-01-12. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. Zeitz, Joshua (25 August 2015). "How Bruce Springsteen's 'Born to Run' Captured the Decline of the American Dream - The Atlantic". The Atlantic. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 17, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2015. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "The 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century". NPR. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  11. "Superchunk Share "Born to Run" Cover Featuring Trail of Dead, Crooked Fingers". Pitchfork. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  12. Niven, John (2011). The second Coming.
  13. Hill, David (9 July 2015). "American Pharoah's owner wants Bruce Springsteen to play on Haskell day". Fox Sports. Fox Sports. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Bruce Springsteen - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  15. "Top 25 Singles of 1970". Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  16. "Top Singles - Volume 24, No. 13, December 20 1975". Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  17. "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles". Archived from the original on 22 January 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  18. "Top Singles - Volume 24, No. 14, December 27 1975". Retrieved 30 March 2016.

External links[]

Template:Bruce Springsteen