Epic, unadulterated brilliance. From the opening piano hit on “Thunder Road,” to Clarence Clemons’ stratospheric sax solo at the apex of “Jungleland,” Born to Run is 39 minutes of musical brilliance from the greatest songwriter to ever live backed by the best collection of musicians to hit the Jersey circuit. In fact, the album is so good, it’s the tracks that come in just short of greatness like “Night” (which would still blow out the best song on most albums) and the understated, yet fascinating “Meeting Across the River,” that stand as the outliers. Even the title track, while phenomenal, doesn’t crack the top half of this masterwork and it’s the one that made the man a superstar. Conversely, the lyricism of the titanic heartbreak anthem “Backstreets” alone is pure poetry; couple that with Roy Bittan’s brilliant playing and Springsteen’s own muscled guitar work and you have a song for the ages. Ditto for the twinkling majesty of “She’s the One” and the junkyard groove of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” And that’s before you even start to dissect the 9-minute-plus epic that is “Jungleland,” which feels like it could narrate a lifetime of emotion and angst.
I’ve yet to hear a perfect album, friends, but Born to Run is as close as it gets.
Essential Tracks: “Night,” “Born to Run,” “Meeting Across the River”
Masterpieces: “Thunder Road,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” “Backstreets,” “She’s the One,” “Jungleland”