Born To Run

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Commercially Released*: August 25, 1975
Label: Columbia
Produced** by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and Mike Appel
Recorded Jimmy Iovine and Louis Lahav, assisted by Thom Panunzio, Ricky Delena and Corky Stasiak
 at The Record Plant and 914 Sound Studios (January 1974 - July 1975)
Mixed by Jimmy Iovine, assisted by Thom Panunzio, Dave Thoener, Andy Abrams and Corky Stasiak 
Mastered by Greg Calbi
Design by John Berg and Andy Engel
Photography by Eric Meola

* A small quantity of blank label, advanced promo copies (called "Script Covers") were issued to VIPs about August 12, 1975. Normal promo copies were sent to radio stations on or about August 24.
** The track "Born To Run" was produced by Springsteen-Appel.


Born To Run was many more things than just the making of a great rock and roll record. It was the time in which Bruce Springsteen came to terms with his employer (Columbia Records, now Sony) and his management (Mike Appel going out, Jon Landau coming in). His music, studio management, and band leader skills all continued to progress, but to get this record done, his troubled relationship with his record company needed to be healed.

The Born To Run album sessions can be traced as far back as January 8, 1974 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, New York, with the first rehearsals of Born To Run and Jungleland, and concluded on July 20, 1975 at the Record Plant, though final mixing continued after the band went on tour. Wings For Wheels, the official documentary film on the making of the album, fails to delve into depth about the sessions. It took Springsteen six months to perfect the song "Born to Run" in the studio. One of Springsteen's inspirations for the production of "Born to Run" was Phil Spector, whose Wall of Sound recording style was behind countless hits of the 60s. He made numerous alterations that didn’t all stick, including a backing chorus and various string arrangements. The first documented live performance of "Born to Run" took place at Harvard Square Theater on May 9, 1974. In April, Springsteen played Charley's Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts and met influential critic and Rolling Stone reviews editor, Jon Landau. Landau was in the audience on May 9, and his review of that show featured this iconic line: "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen". Landau's Real Paper review, appearing at exactly the right moment, transformed the manner in which Springsteen was perceived at the record label. In receiving the most enthusiastic accolades imaginable from perhaps the most influential rock critic alive, Springsteen was no longer under pressure merely to make a profit; now he had to be a prophet.

Strapped for cash, Springsteen was still doggedly trucking between club, bar and festival gigs to pay the bills. The band continued to play two hour shows in clubs where onlookers were mesmerized by Springsteen's intense energy and agility. At the end of every show, his slight frame is sweat-soaked from performing his rock and roll revue. His agency, Williams Morris, foolishly booked him to play the Schaffer Music Festival in Central Park, opening for a mismatched Anne Murray on August 3, 1974. Reportedly, Appel told Murray's managers that Murray would be better off opening, but her managers refused. After Springsteen delivered a crazed performance, complete with encore, Murray was all but booed or "Broooced" off-stage.

Springsteen's perfectionism and frustration with the antiquated studio stymie any progress towards making a new record. Impatient with the gruelling sessions, Sancious leaves the band in August for a solo deal and takes Carter with him, leaving the band without keyboards and drums. Refusing to use session musicians, Springsteen and Appel placed a classified ad in The Village Voice for replacements: "Drummer (No Jr. Ginger Bakers) Piano (Classical to Jerry Lee Lewis) Trumpet (Jazz, R&B & Latin) Violin. All must sing". According to Springsteen’s and Gary Tallent's recollections, the band auditioned 60 musicians, playing a half hour with each one. Among the group of applicants were drummer Max Weinberg and pianist Roy Bittan. Weinberg’s experience ranged from rock bands to the Broadway pit, and Bittan had played with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Engineer Louis Lahav's wife Suki, who could play violin and sing, began performing with the band on "New York City Serenade", "Jungleland" and "I Want You".

Springsteen and Landau had become friends after the Harvard Theater show, and after dealing with some health problems, Landau moved to New York. He and Bruce reaquainted, and they would chat about record production and music history, when Bruce would stop by his apartment after recording sessions. In March 1975, over Appel's vociferous objection, Bruce invited his friend, who had produced undistinguished albums for the MC5 and Livingston Taylor, to join the production team, and the now ex-critic managed to wring some progress from the proceedings. Perhaps most important, he convinced Springsteen to move from Blauvelt to the more expensive Record Plant in Times Square, where at least the pedal on the piano would not be audible in the sound mix. "When I visited 914 studio, they were working the same songs over and over and Bruce said, What do you think, Landau recalled. "I said You're a big-league artist and you should be in a big-league studio. Next thing, we were in the Record Plant. One of my production ideas was that the sound would be tighter if we cut the record initially as a trio-bass, drums, and piano. Landau promptly hired engineer Jimmy Iovine (veteran of Lennon’s Spector-produced Rock 'n' Roll ). Another was that, as from April 13, 1975, he officially took a cut of the action, 2 per cent of Born To Run's retail sales. Landau's share came half from CBS and half from Appel. In their new studio on April 18, with Landau as a producer, Springsteen and the E Street Band could focus on the album without distraction. Working extensively with Roy Bittan on piano for "Thunder Road," and Clarence "Big Man" Clemons on saxophone for "Jungleland," Springsteen annotated exactly what he envisioned, note-for-note, to his fellow musicians. For the sax solo on "Jungleland," Springsteen spent 16 hours working with Clemons, recording eight or nine tracks before cutting and re-cutting the sound. He was at the Record Plant from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.

"Thunder Road" just got it's name in March, when Bruce decided to dismantle most of "Walking In the Street", a song the band had worked on the previous fall. "Wings For Wheels", which had great verses, needed a great ending, and after two months of frustration, Bruce took the main coda of "Walking In the Street", and made it the instrumental outro of "Thunder Road". Three days each were spent on Thunder Road and Jungleland during April, recording base tracks, vocals, instruments, leaving mixing, dubbing of vocals for July, near the end of the sessions. After "Jungleland" was done on April 25, takes were cut for Backstreets. Sessions resumed on May 4 with "She's the One" and "Lonely Night In the Park". It was obvious there were lyric problems with "Backstreets" and "She's the One"; both had great build-ups to the bridge, where neither had any lyrics. The rest of May was spent working on finishing the prior mentioned, along with "Night", "Linda Let Me Be the One" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out". Two days were spent on "Backstreets", which was now finished except for a missing bridge. On the final day, May 28, the only song worked on was a new composition, "The Heist", later changed to "Meeting Across the River".

Steve Van Zandt officially joined the E Street Band a week later on July 20, the opening night of the Born To Run tour.

Photographer Eric Meola, who captured the iconic "Born to Run" cover image, took nearly 600 photos in this album's two-hour cover shoot. Springsteen was only looking directly at Clemons in two of those photos. Springsteen and the E Street Band played 10 concerts at New York's Bottom Line to build hype before the album was released. October 20 Springsteen appears on the covers of Time and Newsweek on the same day.

Read more about the history of the Born to Run record……


# Song Title Running Time Release
5. BORN TO RUN 4:28 BORN TO RUN / 1975 single
6. SHE'S THE ONE 3:36 BORN TO RUN / 1975 b-side

Total Running Time: 39:28

Additional Information

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