Bruce Springsteen – No Surrender

This song was on the album “Born In The USA.” released in 1984. I was a Jr in high school and this song hit like a blast. Bruce had been huge when Born To Run was released in 1975 but since then he had been popular but this album placed him in the stratosphere. He was reluctant to release the album because Bruce had a clue on how big this album was going to be and he didn’t know how comfortable he would be with that.

When you are 17 years old and waiting for your life to start… then hear the lyrics Well, we busted out of class, Had to get away from those fools, We learned more from a three-minute record, baby Than we ever learned in school… it gets your attention.

I think every song on the album could have been released as a single. This one did not chart but remains a strong song. Steven Van Zandt convinced Springsteen to include this song on the album because Bruce was going to leave it off.

From Songfacts

Springsteen wrote this about the inspirational power of rock music. It came to represent his friendship with members of his band.

This was the last song chosen for the album. E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt had to convince Springsteen to put it on. Van Zandt had left the band, but remained close to Springsteen and would eventually play with him again.

The original title was “Brothers Under The Bridges.”

Part of the chorus provided the title for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s first movie, No Retreat, No Surrender.

Springsteen often performed a slower version of this at concerts. The version on the box set Live 1975-1985 is a slower, solo performance.

No Surrender

Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three-minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school
Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound
I can feel my heart begin to pound
You say you’re tired and you just want to close your eyes
And follow your dreams down

Well, we made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Like soldiers in the winter’s night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender

Well, now young faces grow sad and old
And hearts of fire grow cold
We swore blood brothers against the wind
Now I’m ready to grow young again
And hear your sister’s voice calling us home
Across the open yards
Well maybe we’ll cut someplace of our own
With these drums and these guitars

‘Cause we made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Blood brothers in the stormy night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender

Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim
The walls of my room are closing in
There’s a war outside still raging
You say it ain’t ours anymore to win
I want to sleep beneath
Peaceful skies in my lover’s bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

Once we made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender
Blood brothers in a stormy night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby, no surrender
No retreat, baby, no surrender

Ohh ohh ohh
Ohh ohh ohh
Ohh ohh ohh
Ohh ohh ohh

Bruce Springsteen – Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?

After posting about Blinded By The Light yesterday…I was commenting with jeremyjames (Jeremy in Hong Kong) and he mentioned this song which was on the Greetings From Asbury Park debut album by Bruce Springsteen. I started to listen to this album in the 80s and it has remained one of my favorite albums by Springsteen.

I wrote this about the album last summer and started to listen to the album again Saturday afternoon. This was one of the many songs off the album that I liked at first listen and was surprised that I remembered most of the words to the song right off the bat.

“Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?” is a journey through an enjoyable play of words. It was written about a bus journey to a girlfriend’s house. Here is a sample of a verse

“Wizard imps and sweat sock pimps
Interstellar mongrel nymphs
Rex said that lady left him limp
Love’s like that (sure it is)
Queen of diamonds, ace of spades
Newly discovered lovers of the Everglades
They take out a full-page ad in the trades
To announce their arrival
And Mary Lou, she found out how to cope
She rides to heaven on a gyroscope
The Daily News asks her for the dope
She said, “Man, the dope’s that there’s still hope”

From Songfacts

This song is based on people and places Springsteen met in his early years as a songwriter. His father was a bus driver for a time, which helped inspire the song. 

The barrage of images in the lyrics helped earn Springsteen the tag “The New Dylan,” a comparison he played down. He moved away from the Dylan style by writing less introspective, harder rocking songs on his next album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle.

This song started with the lyrics, something Springsteen did from time to time when he started out as a songwriter. Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. was his first album, and it marked a turning point in his songwriting: Instead of keeping the lyrics as simple and repetitive as possible to accommodate the bars he was playing with his bands, he started using elaborate wordplay to tell different stories, often within the same song – something you could do in a recording studio but not in a noisy club. This song makes passing reference to a number of characters but leaves the listener to decide their fates. Just what becomes of Mary Lou, the mongrel nymphs and the lucky, young matador who catches the rose is in the ear of the beholder.

Joan Fontaine pops up in the lyrics for no apparent reason:

Broadway Mary, Joan Fontaine
advertiser on a downtown train

She was an actress who starred in the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rebecca.

Does This Bus Stop At 52nd Street?

Hey bus driver, keep the change
Bless your children, give them names
Don’t trust men who walk with canes
Drink this and you’ll grow wings on your feet
Broadway Mary, Joan Fontaine
Advertiser on a downtown train
Christmas crier bustin’ cane
He’s in love again

Where dock worker’s dreams mix with panther’s schemes
To someday own the rodeo
Tainted women in VistaVision
Perform for out-of-state kids at the late show

Wizard imps and sweat sock pimps
Interstellar mongrel nymphs
Rex said that lady left him limp
Love’s like that (sure it is)
Queen of diamonds, ace of spades
Newly discovered lovers of the Everglades
They take out a full-page ad in the trades
To announce their arrival
And Mary Lou, she found out how to cope
She rides to heaven on a gyroscope
The Daily News asks her for the dope
She said, “Man, the dope’s that there’s still hope”

Senorita, Spanish rose
Wipes her eyes and blows her nose
Uptown in Harlem she throws a rose
To some lucky young matador

Bruce Springsteen – Blinded By The Light

I know that the Manfred Mann version is more popular but I always listen to Bruce’s version of the song he wrote. It’s not as slick whatsoever…maybe that is the reason I like it so much. It’s raw and Bruce just pelts you with words over and over.

This song was the first cut of his album “Greetings From Ashbury Park” which is a very underrated album. The album peaked at #60 in the Billboard Album Charts.

This was Springsteen’s first single. It was released only in the US, where it flopped. It was, however, a #1 hit for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in February 1977, becoming the only #1 Hot 100 hit Springsteen ever wrote. The Manfred Mann version was much more elaborately produced, and Springsteen hated it at first. It ended up earning him a very nice payout.

From Songfacts

Springsteen talked about this song in detail on an episode of VH1 Storytellers.A lot of the references are personal, to include people he knew or had met on the Boardwalks, or had grown up around, or were just direct personal references to himself:

“Madman drummers bummers” – Vinnie “Mad dog” Lopez, the first drummer in the E Street Band.

“Indians in the summer” – Bruce’s little league baseball team as a kid.

“In the dumps with the mumps” – being sick with the mumps.

“Boulder on my shoulder” – a “chip” on his shoulder.

“Some all hot, half-shot, heading for a hot spot, snapping fingers clapping his hands” – Being a “know it all kid growing up, who doesn’t really know anything.”

“Silicone Sister” – Bruce mentions that this is arguably the first mention of breast implants in popular music – a dancer at one of the local strip joints in Asbury Park.

He wrote this song in his bedroom, primarily using a rhyming dictionary. Or as Bruce put it, “the rhyming dictionary was on fire.”

Manfred Mann’s version replaces the line “Cut loose like a deuce” with “Revved up like a deuce.” In their version, “Deuce” was commonly misheard as “Douche.” Springsteen’s original line makes a lot more sense – a deuce is a 1932 Ford hotrod. On his Storytellers special, Springsteen said (in a jesting manner): “I have a feeling that is why the song skyrocketed to #1.”

Talking about the barrage of images he used in his early songs, Springsteen told ZigZag: “I see these situations happening when I sing them and I know the characters well. I use them in different songs and see them in shadows – they’re probably based on people I know or else they’re flashes, that just appear there. There’s a lot of activity, a whole mess of people… it’s like if you’re walking down the street, my songs are what you see, only distorted. A lot of songs were written without any music at all, it’s just that I do like to sing the words.”

After eight years playing in bars where audiences usually didn’t listen to or couldn’t hear the words, Springsteen used his first album to unload a ton of lyrics. All these lyrics helped earn Springsteen the tag “The New Dylan.” Singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Kris Kristofferson also shared the comparison, and Bruce went out of his way to shed the tag by making his next album a true rock record.

This was the first song on Springsteen’s first album. Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. featured a postcard on the cover that fans would look for any time they were near the town.

Along with “Spirit In The Night,” this was one of two songs on the album featuring Clarence Clemons on saxophone. The E Street Band became a much bigger part of Springsteen’s songs on his next album.

Springsteen wrote the lyrics first and filled in the music later. The only time he wrote this way was on his first album.

The working title was “Madman’s Bummers,” taken from words in the first line.

This was one of the songs that prompted Columbia Records to market the album by claiming “This man puts more thoughts, more ideas and images into one song than most people put into an album.”

Manfred Mann’s cover is the only Bruce Springsteen song to top the Hot 100. Near misses for Bruce have been “Dancing In The Dark” (#2 in 1984) and The Pointer Sisters version of “Fire” (#2 in 1979).

Springsteen wrote this after Columbia Records rejected his first attempt at an album, telling him to make some songs that could be played on the radio. He came up with this song and “Spirit In The Night.”

Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasing sneezing and wheezing, the calliope crashed to the ground
Some all-hot half-shot was headin’ for the hot spot, snappin’ his fingers, clappin’ his hands
And some fleshpot mascot was tied into a lover’s knot with a whatnot in her hand
And now young Scott with a slingshot finally found a tender spot and throws his lover in the sand
And some bloodshot forget-me-not whispers, daddy’s within earshot, save the buckshot, turn up the band

And she was blinded by the light
Oh cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
She got down but she never got tight, but she’ll make it alright

Some brimstone baritone anti-cyclone rolling stone preacher from the East
He says, dethrone the dictaphone, hit it in its funny bone, that’s where they expect it least
And some new-mown chaperone was standin’ in the corner all alone, watchin’ the young girls dance
And some fresh-sown moonstone was messin’ with his frozen zone to remind him of the feeling of romance

Yeah, he was blinded by the light
Oh, cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
He got down but he never got tight, but he’s gonna make it tonight

Some silicone sister with her manager’s mister told me I got what it takes
She said, I’ll turn you on, sonny, to something strong if you play that song with the funky break
And Go-Cart Mozart was checkin’ out the weather chart to see if it was safe to go outside
And little Early-Pearly came by in her curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride
Oh, some hazard from Harvard was skunked on beer, playin’ backyard bombardier
Yes, and Scotland Yard was trying hard, they sent some dude with a calling card, he said, do what you like, but don’t do it here
Well, I jumped up, turned around, spit in the air, fell on the ground and asked him which was the way back home
He said, take a right at the light, keep goin’ straight until night, and then, boy, you’re on your own
And now in Zanzibar, a shootin’ star was ridin’ in a side car, hummin’ a lunar tune
Yes, and the avatar said, blow the bar but first remove the cookie jar, we’re gonna teach those boys to laugh too soon
And some kidnapped handicap was complainin’ that he caught the clap from some mousetrap he bought last night
Well, I unsnapped his skull cap and between his ears I saw a gap but figured he’d be all right

He was just blinded by the light
Cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Blinded by the light
Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Oh, but Mama, that’s where the fun is
Ooh yeah
I was blinded
I was blinded
I was blinded
I was blinded
I was blinded
I was blinded
I was blinded
I was blinded

Bruce Springsteen – Badlands

The first chords come in and start the powerful riff. I love the way Bruce phrases the lyrics with an urgency to be heard. As soon as I heard lyrics

I don’t give a damn
For just the in-betweens
Honey I want the heart, I want the soul
I want control right now

I was hooked. Springsteen was one artist who lived up to the “new Dylan” title that was given to him by the press. They are quite different artists but Springsteen managed to live up to the hype.

This was the second single off Darkness On The Edge Of Town, the first album Springsteen released after a legal battle with his first manager, Mike Appel, kept him from recording for almost 3 years. The first single was #33 Prove It All Night.

The title came from a 1973 movie of the same name starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Springsteen got the idea from a poster in the theater lobby. Springsteen did not see the movie until after he wrote this.

The song peaked at #42 in the Billboard 100 in 1978.

From Songfacts

This was more mature songwriting from Springsteen, as much of Darkness On The Edge Of Town reflects the characters of his previous album, Born To Run, getting older and more pessimistic.

“Badlands” was considered for the name of the album. Around this time, Springsteen would come up with titles and try to come up with deserving songs for them. He told Rolling Stone in 2010: “Badlands, that’s a great title, but It would be easy to blow it. But I kept writing and I kept writing and I kept writing and writing until I had a song that I felt deserved that title.”

This is a concert favorite. It was featured on Springsteen’s 1999 reunion tour with The E Street Band, and on many of their subsequent tours.

Badlands is a US national park in South Dakota. It is famous for striking scenery and expansive prairie land.

The version on Live 1975-1985 was recorded in Arizona the night after Ronald Reagan was elected president. Bruce introduced the song by saying: “I don’t know what you guys thought of what happened last night, but I thought it was pretty terrifying.” Reagan would later misinterpret “Born In The U.S.A.” in a 1984 campaign speech.

Bill Murray and Paul Shaffer chose to open the 25th Anniversary Show of Saturday Night Live with this song, as sung by Murray’s character of Nick the Lounge Singer. According to the book Live From New York, they chose this song because Murray and Shaffer felt that there was a certain lyric in the song that best described their experience of growing up in life and in show business on Saturday Night Live in the ’70s. Murray was quoted as saying performing the harmony with Paul was one of the high points of his entire career. 

Badlands

Lights out tonight
Trouble in the heartland
Got a head-on collision
Smashin’ in my guts man
I’m caught in a crossfire
That I don’t understand
I don’t give a damn
For the same old played out scenes
I don’t give a damn
For just the in-betweens
Honey I want the heart, I want the soul
I want control right now
Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
You wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don’t come
Well don’t waste your time waiting

Badlands, you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good

Workin’ in the fields
Til you get your back burned
Workin’ ‘neath the wheel
Till you get your facts learned
Baby got my facts
Learned real good right now
Poor man want to be rich
Rich man want to be king
And a king ain’t satisfied
Till he rules everything
I want to go out tonight
I want to find out what I got

I believe in the love that you gave me
I believe in the hope that can save me
I believe in the faith
And I pray that some day it may raise me
Above these badlands

Badlands, you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good

For the ones who had a notion
A notion deep inside
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive
I want to find one face that ain’t looking through me
I want to find one place
I want to spit in the face of these badlands

Badlands, you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
We’ll keep pushin’ till it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good

Bruce Springsteen – Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

A great song with an R&B feel to it. Little Steven directed the horn section. Bruce sings it like it’s his last day on earth…like many of his other songs. Tenth Avenue runs through E Street in Belmar, New Jersey. The band got their name from the street, which is where they used to rehearse. Springsteen, however, has said that he has no idea what a “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” is.

The song peaked at #83 in the Billboard 100 in 1976. It was off the Born To Run album that propelled him to stardom.

The “Big Man” in the third verse is Clarence Clemons…the saxophone player.  Springsteen met him when Clemons came into a club in Asbury Park, N.J., where Bruce was playing. It was a stormy night, and the door flew off the hinges when Clemons opened it. Springsteen would talk about how he “Literally blew the door off the place.”
In Clemons’ autobiography Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales, he explained: “It was one of those nor’easters – cold, raining, lightning and thunder. Now, this is God’s honest truth. I open the door to the club and a gust of wind blew the door right out of my hand and down the street. So here I am, a big black guy, in Asbury Park, with lightning flashing behind me. I said to Bruce, ‘I want to sit in.’ He says, ‘Sure, anything you want.'”

 

From Songfacts

This tells the story of the E Street Band coming together. On Springsteen’s first album in 1973, he didn’t use a lot of backup musicians, but on his next one The E Street band was crucial to the sound. Later on, Springsteen released the albums Nebraska and The Ghost Of Tom Joad without the band, but they didn’t sell nearly as well as the ones they played on.

Clemons was working as a social worker at the time and playing in a Jersey Shore bar band when he got his big break with Bruce.

At many of their early shows, this was the first song in the set.

Springsteen used this to introduce the band on the 1999 E Street Band Reunion tour. He would explain what each member brought to the group (Roy Bittan – Foundation, Little Steven – Soul, etc.), ending with Clemons. Some nights the band members did short solos as they were introduced.

“Bad Scooter” in the opening line, “Teardrops on the city Bad Scooter searching for his groove” is Springsteen. Note the initials are the same.

While touring with “the other band” during his 1992/93 tour promoting the Human Touch and Lucky Town albums, Springsteen sometimes brought out Clarence “Big Man” Clemons to play his usual sax part in this song. When introduced, the crowd always gave the big man a huge ovation. >>

After imploring the audience to put down the guacamole dip and chicken fingers (we were actually eating chicken wings, but anyway…) Springsteen played this as the first song of his performance at halftime of the 2009 Super Bowl between the Cardinals and Steelers.

Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

Tear drops on the city, Bad Scooter searching for his groove
Seem like the whole world walking pretty and you can’t find the room to move
Well, everybody better move over, that’s all
‘Cause I’m running on the bad side and I got my back to the wall
Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out

Well, I was stranded in the jungle trying to take in all the heat they was giving
The night is dark but the sidewalk’s bright and lined with the light of the living
From a tenement window a transistor blasts
Turn around the corner, things got real quiet real fast
I walked into a Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out

And I’m all alone, I’m all alone
(And kid, you better get the picture)
And I’m on my own, I’m on my own
And I can’t go home

When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band
From the coastline to the city, all the little pretties raise their hands
I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh
When Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half
With the Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze
I’m talking ’bout a Tenth
Oh, nothing but a Tenth
I’m talking ’bout a Tenth
I’m talking bout a Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth
Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, I’m talking ’bout a
Tenth Avenue freeze-out…

Bruce Springsteen – The River

This was the title track to Bruce’s 1980 double album. I picked this song off the album because it is so easy to relate to. I’ve known friends who have lived this song. The lyrics are sad because they are so real. It contains one of my favorite Springsteen lines “And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat.” The song didn’t chart in America or Canada but did make it to #35 in the UK.

The album was #1 in the Billboard album charts, #1 in Canada, and #2 in the UK.

The wedding in the story relates to Springsteen’s sister, who got married when she was still a teenager. She knew it was about her and her husband the first time she heard it. It was also based on conversations Springsteen had with his brother-in-law. After losing his construction job, he worked hard to support his wife and young child but never complained.

From Songfacts

Always a champion of the working class, Springsteen has often spoken out against income inequality, which became a big political issue in the late ’00s. Back in the ’80s though, Springsteen was talking about it, and he often did so through the context of this song.

At a show in Pittsburgh on September 22, 1984, he dedicated the song to union steelworkers in Pennsylvania who were fighting for better wages and working conditions. Said Springsteen: “There’s something really dangerous happening to us out there. We’re slowly getting split up into two different Americas. Things are gettin’ taken away from people that need them and given to people that don’t need them, and there’s a promise getting broken. In the beginning, the idea was that we all live here a little bit like a family, where the strong can help the weak ones, the rich can help the poor ones. I don’t think the American dream was that everybody was going to make it or that everybody was going to make a billion dollars, but it was that everybody was going to have an opportunity and the chance to live a life with some decency and some dignity and a chance for some self-respect. So I know you gotta be feelin’ the pinch down here where the rivers meet.”

This was influenced by the Hank Williams song “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It.”

Regarding this song, Springsteen wrote in the liner notes to his Greatest Hits album, “A breakthrough song for me. It was in the detail. One of the first of my story songs that eventually led to Nebraska.”

Springsteen performed this for the first time on September 21 and 22, 1979 at the “No Nukes” concerts at Madison Square Garden. Springsteen headlined a show with James Taylor, Carly Simon, and Crosby, Stills & Nash as Musicians United for a Safe Energy (MUSE). This was the only new song he played at the shows. 

This performance at the “No Nukes” concerts was included in a film documenting the shows released in 1980.

This was the title track to a double-album released in 1980. The year before, Springsteen recorded it for an album called The Ties That Bind, which he decided not to release. This and six other tracks from that album were included on The River.

The River

I come from down in the valley
Where mister when you’re young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school
When she was just seventeen
We’d ride out of that valley down to where the fields were green

We’d go down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride

Then I got Mary pregnant
And man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse
And the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress

That night we went down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we did ride

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don’t remember
Mary acts like she don’t care

But I remember us riding in my brother’s car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse
That sends me down to the river
Though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight
Down to the river
My baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride

Bruce Springsteen – Thunder Road

Listening to this song is like reading a novel. You have early Springsteen’s themes…cars, roads, and a plan to flee. This song is from the now classic 1975 Born to Run album.

After the album was released Bruce’s popularity jumped immensely when Bruce was on the cover of Newsweek and Time in the same week.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, beard

From Songfacts.

This was the first track on Born To Run, a crucial album for Springsteen. His first two albums sold poorly, and he was in danger of losing his record deal if he did not produce a hit. With songs like this one about escaping to the open road, he connected with an audience that proved extremely loyal.

He considered this song the “invitation” to the album, with the opening notes being the welcome. “Something is opening up,” Springsteen said during his 2005 Storytellers appearance. “What I hoped it would be was the sense of a larger life, greater experience, sense of fun, the sense that your personal exploration and possibilities were all lying somewhere inside of you.”

Springsteen took the title from a 1958 Robert Mitchum movie. He did not see the film, but got the idea from a poster for it in a theater lobby.

The vocal sound was inspired by Roy Orbison. Springsteen pays homage to him with the line: “The radio plays Roy Orbison singing for the lonely,” a reference to Orbison’s 1960 hit, “Only The Lonely.”

The name of the girl mentioned at the beginning was changed several times. It had been Angelina and Chrissie before Springsteen settled on “Mary’s dress waves.”

The original title was “Wings For Wheels.” It began as an outtake called “Glory Road.”

Cars were very important growing up in New Jersey and show up in many of Springsteen songs. Bruce’s first car was a ’57 Chevy with orange flames painted on the hood.

This is a concert favorite that Springsteen has performed at many of his shows over the years.

At one point, Born To Run was going to be a concept album spanning the course of a day, with an acoustic version of this starting the album and the full band version closing it.

Springsteen’s friend and future manager, Jon Landau, convinced him to record this at The Record Plant in New York instead of the low-budget studio he was using. Springsteen’s current manager, Mike Appel, resented Landau’s influence and would file a lawsuit that kept Springsteen from recording for 3 years.

Since the band didn’t know the song very well, Springsteen used a version with just him at the piano to open a series of shows at The Bottom Line in New York City in 1975. Sponsored by a New York radio station, the disc jockey, Dave Herman, apologized on the air for not playing enough Springsteen the morning after the first show.

On November 3, 1980, Springsteen kicked off his tour to support the album in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For the encore, Bob Seger, who is to Michigan what Springsteen is to New Jersey, joined him onstage to perform this.

Has been performed live many different ways: with the full band, solo with guitar, solo with piano, slowed down, etc. The version on Live 1975-1985 features Springsteen singing over Roy Bittan’s piano.

Bruce taped a performance of this that was played at the funeral of James Berger, a worker in the World Trade Center who helped people get out before he was killed when it collapsed. He was a big Springsteen fan and this was his favorite song. Bruce dedicated it to his sons.

This was also the first track on Springsteen’s live album Hammersmith Odeon London 1975, which was recorded on November 18, 1975 during Springsteen’s first concert in Europe. It was released on DVD in 2005, and on CD the following year

Thunder Road

The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey, that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again, I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside, darling, you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re alright
Oh, and that’s alright with me

You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
Well now, I ain’t no hero, that’s understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey, what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well, the night’s busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven’s waiting on down the tracks

Oh oh, come take my hand
We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Oh, Thunder Road, oh, Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey, I know it’s late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well, I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car’s out back if you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door’s open but the ride ain’t free
And I know you’re lonely for words that I ain’t spoken
But tonight we’ll be free, all the promises’ll be broken

There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines rolling on
But when you get to the porch, they’re gone on the wind
So Mary, climb in
It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win