I defy you to think of an album with a better A-side than “Born to Run.” That first half doesn’t even include the best song on the album, the title track. Even if you love where you’re from, this record makes you want to hop in a convertible (over the side, the Boss would never open the door to a convertible), speed down the highway and never look back.
Now, it would probably be ridiculous to call Bruce Springsteen punk rock. The record is a mainstay on the dad-est of Adult Alternative radio stations. But I’ll be damned if this album is not bursting with the same urgency as any punk rock record out there. The title track will make you want to mosh with the best of ‘em. The screaming sax solos, courtesy of the late Clarence Clemons, stack up alongside any sound a guitar can produce.
“Born to Run” practically laid the foundation for rock music nowadays. Its sprawling, multi-sectioned tracks — that still firmly rock — would later be taken to an extreme by fellow Jersey-ites Titus Andronicus. The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn has built a career around his Springsteen-esque lyrics that make the specific feel universal (albeit referencing Twin Cities rather than New Jersey.) The E Street Band had the whole tons-of-instruments approach down before members of indie bands like Arcade Fire or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes were even born.
Other Springsteen records like “Darkness on the Edge of Town” or “Nebraska” are slightly more tame and deserve the “dad rock” label a little more. The vaguely folksy sound and constant harmonica breaks don’t translate as well to modern ears as his more rockin’ output. But I assure you, “Born to Run” absolutely refuses to sound dated.