It’s difficult now to completely comprehend what kind of effect Springsteen’s “Born to Run” had on me back in 1975.
Back then I did not understand the overt Phil Spector-ish ‘Wall of Sound’ Bruce and his fellow producers were going for (my appreciation for that would come years later), nor did I know of the record label ‘hassles’ that were going on behind the scenes that would have meant Bruce being dropped from his contract and possibly disappearing into into the ether if this album was not a success.
I was also blissfully unaware about the Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Roy Orbison influences that Springsteen wore on his sleeve throughout many of these cuts. All I knew as a seventeen year old teenage boy from a dreary British suburb was that these songs spoke to me in a way that no album had previously managed. I realise that comment sounds like the worst possible cliché ever… but its true!
Bruce’s tales of love, hope, redemption and spirituality all set against an apparent ‘American dream’ – one filled with burned out Chevrolets, boulevards, amusement parks, rock & rolls bands, vast highways and that famous “everlasting kiss” – had my little mind going off on myriad flights of fancy with every listen.
In keeping with my previous ‘album reviews’ I was going to break this one down into its separate tracks and discuss each in a little detail. But, upon starting that project, I realised that it’s almost impossible for me to mention one track without referencing another such is (in my mind anyway) the ‘completeness’ of this record.
I do wonder if this album can be somehow single-handedly responsible for me (thereafter) always having one eye open for the “American dream”? Certainly when I visited the USA for the first time a few years later (in 1979, New York) I felt a greater affinity with the country’s ‘culture’ than I perhaps would have done without hearing it. To the extent that I had an argument with my then girlfriend which went something along the lines of “I don’t want to leave” and her persuading me that I had to.
I went back by myself a few times afterwards, each time experiencing the bad with the good, and yet each time always wishing I didn’t have to leave ‘just yet’
It could even be argued that “Born to Run” made me yearn so much for an American lifestyle that when I (was a lot older and) hooked up with a wonderful girl from the country’s mid-west, I perhaps ‘chased’ her harder than I otherwise would have done?! Chased her to such an extent that I ended up falling madly in love with her, marrying her and moving to Ohio to spend the rest of my life with her!
Whilst the country itself has perhaps not lived up to Bruce’s 1975 ‘promise’ (something which even he has commented on at length in subsequent songs) my lovely wife is certainly my “American Dream”.