Hartman Group As rock 'n' roll's preeminent purist, it makes perfect sense…
- Posted on Aug 25th 2010 4:30PM by James Sullivan
Tom Hill, WireImage
But the most significant cultural event to turn 35 this year may well be 'Born to Run,' the enduring rock 'n' roll classic that made a scruffy, leather-jacketed street kid named Bruce Springsteen a working-class hero to multiple generations of everyday romantics. 'Born to Run' was released on August 25, 1975.
Though the recommended gift for a 35th anniversary is jade, time has by no means jaded public affection for the album that put Springsteen, like a global potentate, on the cover of both Time and Newsweek in the same week. After a poetic, largely acoustic debut, 1973's 'Greeting from Asbury Park, N.J.,' and a raucous followup later that year ('The Wild, the Innocent & the E-Street Shuffle') that captured the circus-like commotion of urban life, 'Born to Run' was Springsteen's well-aimed stab at grandiosity – rock's own 'West Side Story.'
Hailed, to his extreme discomfort, as "rock 'n' roll's future" – the phrase was originally written by rock critic Jon Landau, who would soon become Springsteen's manager; it was Columbia's incessant hammering of the concept that made the Boss blanch – Springsteen and his sprawling band held nothing back, throwing all their strongest emotions into the music at a time when a decade's disillusionment was finding its outlet in punk nihilism.
But the album's theme – the yearning that gnaws away at all of us, and not just the young – remained remarkably consistent throughout. Sometimes you feel fulfilled: "Every muscle in your body sings," the bandleader wails, updating Walt Whitman for the automotive age, on 'Night.' Sometimes, not so much: The knife-fighters engaged "in a real death waltz," Springsteen murmurs in the album's closing moments, "wind up wounded – not even dead." Immortality, in the end, comes to no one, so we better learn to appreciate the life we do have.
And if that's not a universal thought, well, then, that guitar – guess he never learned how to make it talk.