A Look Back At Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run

09/18/2013
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(Gibson) Bruce Springsteen really had his work cut out for him when he started working on what was to become his breakthrough, the album Born to Run. His two previous albums Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., and The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, although critically well-received, had failed to sell as well as the record company had hoped. Born to Run took about 18 months to record.

In the Born To Run documentary Wings For Wheels that was included with the 30th Anniversary Edition of the album, Springsteen says about the song: "This particular single took us a long time. I recollect us spending almost 6 months at intervals making it." Basically a third of the entire recording time was spent working on the title track. Bruce's vision with the whole album was to achieve a sound similar to that of Phil Spector's famous "Wall of Sound." "If this record didn't make it, it seemed obvious that it was going to be the end of the recording career," said E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt in the same documentary. The pressure was definitely on.

"Born to Run" was recorded before drummer Max Weinberg, and pianist Roy Bittan joined the band. David Sancious handles the piano part, and the drums were recorded by Ernest "Boom" Carter. Sancious and Carter left the E Street Band shortly after recording the song, to join a jazz band. Because of Carter's jazz influences, the drum sound on "Born to Run" is very different from the rest of the tracks on the album. Most noticeable is the syncopated drum fill in the song. In Wings For Wheels, Weinberg explains that he struggled to capture the feel of Ernie's fill: "This one little lick that he played in the middle, that's on the record. I tried to play it. A very syncopated kind of jazz-fusion part. Finally, it just never came off right, so I eliminated it, and I've never played it." Weinberg's playing works great though, since his straight up rock groove is more in line with Springsteen's material.

"Born to Run" also has the distinction of being the only song on the album to be partially written on guitar. Springsteen wrote the main riff on guitar, before finishing the song on piano. The song was written in a little house in Long Branch, New Jersey, as was the rest of the album, according to Springsteen. Whenever the house has come up for sale over the years, it has gained quite a bit of attention, even on an international level, because of its importance in the early career of Bruce Springsteen.

The driving force in "Born to Run" is the main guitar riff, which is played in the song's intro and the chorus. While not technically advanced, the melodic nature of it makes fans "sing along" to the riff at concerts. To the casual listener Bruce Springsteen might not seem like more than an average guitarist, but anyone who has seen him live would beg to differ. During concert performances of "Born to Run," The Boss directs the entire band with the help of his guitar. Bruce has explained in interviews that he once held the ambition to be the fastest guitar player in Asbury Park, and while that style of playing doesn't exactly lend itself to the type of music he plays, he still busts out blazing solos when playing live, like for example "Prove it All Night." more on this story

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