Forty years ago, Bruce Springsteen released Born To Run. It took me thirty more years or so to discover the album for myself, and I came to love it first through hearing stripped-down versions of the songs that I grew up saturated with as radio hits. When I think about my earliest experiences with songs that I first dismissed, I’m reminded of the wonderful Josh Ritter lyrics: “Radio waves are coming miles and miles, bringing only empty boats / whatever feeling they had when they sailed somehow slipped out between the notes.” Because Springsteen’s songs and videos were everywhere when I was a kid, singing about things I hadn’t felt yet, I dismissed them as someone else’s songs from someone else’s more bombastic narrative and not mine.
And then maybe ten years ago, I accidentally (yup) downloaded this kismet-laced acoustic version of “Born To Run” that for the first time in my life made me stop and really listen, really hear all of the beautiful dusty sadness in the song that I’d always missed. That cracked open his entire oeuvre for me; you can hear the heart of the song so much better when it’s stripped down to its aching ribs.
I don’t care what you think you think about Springsteen;
YOU MUST LISTEN:
Born to Run (best. live. version. ever.) – Bruce Springsteen
From Chimes of Freedom EP
Eight years ago as part of a series for WXPN in Philly, I posted one of my favorite (young, hungry) live recordings from Springsteen, the iconic Main Point show from 1975, along with Jon Landau’s equally epic piece of music writing about the show, Growing Young With Rock and Roll, which starts with the lines:
“It’s four in the morning and raining. I’m 27 today, feeling old, listening to my records, and remembering that things were diffferent a decade ago.”
Here is a re-up of that show, from right around the time that Born To Run was being recorded (including an early version of what would become “Thunder Road,” with one of the starkest, prettiest bridges I’ve heard in that song). It’s a show that my friend Bruce Warren of WXPN, who was there, calls “one of [Springsteen's] greatest shows ever,” and I concur.
It’s one of the truest I’ve heard, still.
“Tonight’s busting open and I’m alive.”
THE MAIN POINT, 2/5/75
Incident on 57th Street
Mountain of Love
Born To Run
Intro to E Street Shuffle
E Street Shuffle
“Wings For Wheels” (Thunder Road, first performance)
I Want You (Dylan cover)
Spirit In The Night
She’s The One
Saint In The City
New York City Serenade
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
A Love So Fine
Back In The U.S.A. (Chuck Berry cover)