The Pop Song Pantheon, Vol. 3
Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run" (1975)
Maybe it's because I just spent the past two and a half days on the highway, winding in out of truck congestion on crowded interstates, discovering classic rock radio stations across five different states. Maybe it's because the lyric is so dead earnest as to be charmingly kitschy ("Did he just say, 'Strap your hands 'cross my engines'?"). Maybe it's because of the desperation in his voice when he tells Wendy he'll love her with all the madness in his soul. Maybe it's because every great rock and roll song has either a countdown (1-2-3-4..!) or a "woah woah woah" part, and damn it, this one has both. Maybe it's the Phil Spector-inspired wall of sound, with Clarence Clemons's wicked big tenor tone and the--is that a glockenspiel? Maybe it's for the wonderful album cover, with the oh-so-1970s ubiquitous san-serif font. (Check out the movie posters for Annie Hall and All the President's Men, if you don't believe me.) Maybe it's because this is when Bruce effectively became Bruce, appearing simultaneously on the covers of Newsweek and Time.
For whatever one of the above possible reasons, or for all of them at once, it's an essential track.