My Bruce Springsteen project

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, is a big book (528 pages). Sure, I wanted to read it, but when I spotted the audio version, read by Bruce, I knew I wanted to listen to it more. Nineteen hours of his sexy distinctive voice, reminiscing about New Jersey, guitars and recording studios was bound to be absolutely fucking glorious.

And then I took it to the next level. I interspersed listening to the audiobook with listening to every album in its entirety, as he discussed them in the book. I listened to the songs in the order they were published (because as Bruce says, ‘…an album with its A and B sides has a ‘collective’ story…’, something that millennial-playlisters who cherry-pick songs will never quite understand). It was another 15 hours and 38 minutes of Bruce-listening-pleasure.

I’m not going to write a review of the book – fans will read it and love it to bits (everyone else will think “528 pages? Pass.”). But I have picked a favourite song from each album.

Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973) / Growin’ Up – I’ve always liked this song but I loved it when I saw this version from his Brisbane 2017 concert.

The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973) / Incident on 57th Street – Bruce, the rock’n’roll storyteller.

Born to Run (1975) / Born to Run‘Just wrap your legs ’round these velvet rims,  And strap your hands ‘cross my engines’ are probably some of the greatest lyrics ever written. It’s also the greatest ever (and only acceptable) wearing of a cut-off flannel shirt.

Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) / Racing in the Streets – epic.

The River (1980) Fade Away – it’s exactly representative of that spot between the seventies and eighties – a bit rock, a bit catchy-pop.

Nebraska (1982) / Nebraska – it sounds like a lullaby and then you listen…a masterpiece.

Born in the USA (1984) / I’m on Fire – I am, I really am…

Tunnel of Love (1987) / Tougher Than the Rest – a little cheesy? A little too much synth? Perhaps. But it was the eighties. And this is the only album where I really can’t choose just one song, so in addition,  Brilliant Disguise.

Human Touch (1992) / Human Touch – I reckon this album is more ‘eighties’ than Tunnel… anyhoo, my pick is the title track.

Lucky Town (1992) / Book of Dreams – gentle.

The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995) / Straight Time – it’s crushing.

The Rising (2002) / You’re Missing – the despair!

Devils & Dust (2005) / Long Time Comin’ – this is a bit of a Bruce earworm for me.

Magic (2007) / Long Walk Home – it has a nineties vibe – the story, the message, the band.

Working on a Dream (2008) / My Lucky Day – I like the Irish-folk-lite riff in the middle.

Wrecking Ball (2012) / Jack of All Trades – kind of my end-of-semester-exhaustion theme song.

High Hopes (2014) / Hunter of Invisible Game – I like the strings.

Vulture and True Jersey have both undertaken their own Bruce projects, ranking every song from worst to best. The lists are quite different and there are things that are plain WRONG in both (eg. True Jersey’s no.1 pick and Vulture’s harsh pick for no.313).

I don’t expect many will still be reading this post. If you are, you’re clearly a fan, so please share your no.1 song.

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12 responses

  1. Great project! I still remember my Bruce epiphany, which I know I’m not alone in. I’d been a bit too young to pay attention to his music so I was vaguely away that he yelled ‘Born in the USA’ and put his butt on his album covers. I thought he was about as dumb as it’s possible to be. Then when I was around 13 I actually listened to the lyrics of Born in the USA: Oh. My. God. A Bruce epiphany. He’s intelligent, he’s politically engaged, he writes great tunes and as you point out, he’s the only person on the planet who can rock a cut-off flannel shirt.

    Favourites include Fire (as you know. I do struggle that the lyrics are every kind of wrong when a man sings them but I give Bruce the benefit of the doubt); Hungry Heart (love that opening) and Cover Me. Also I like him & Patti Smith singing Because the Night 🙂

  2. I can’t say I’d undertake this project, but I would absolutely listen to him read the book. Favorite songs: Born to Run and, at number one, I’m on Fire.

    • I could listen to him read Born to Run all over again. In fact, I could just turn it on anywhere in the book and listen, just to hear him read. It’s a bit like the narrator in the Serial podcast – shame about the traumatic topic because I found her voice so calming and would be happy listening to her read a shopping list!

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