It's the 40th anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" album, whose title track became Springsteen's first top 40 hit. It's Springsteen's third album, following two others that weren't particularly successful. In just eight tracks, Springsteen finally broke through to another level. (KPCC's Oscar Garza wrote and spoke about the landmark album on Tuesday's episode of "The Frame," by way of a college professor who was inspired to throw out his lesson plan and play this album instead.)
The 1987 re-release of the title song was paired with a music video that includes footage from Los Angeles's own Memorial Coliseum, along with other stops along the world tour. Watch the performance here:
It's a song with iconic phrases like "tramps like us," or the way the rhythms hit on the line "It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap," which have stuck with listeners for decades.
Springsteen posted a note wishing a happy birthday to "Born To Run" on his official website Tuesday:
"40 years ago, I was hustling with the E Street Band to Providence, Rhode Island for the first show of the Born To Run tour. That morning, we’d just completed the last of the mixes in New York, and exhausted but thankful to be out of the studio, we headed north, ready — we thought — for whatever this music was going to bring us. It brought us you and a conversation that continues to this day. I want to thank all the fans for making this music theirs and for celebrating this very special day with us! Oh… and happy birthday Born To Run!"
Just last month, Springsteen released the complete set from the second night of a five night stand at L.A.'s Sports Arena from 1988's Tunnel Of Love tour digitally and as a three CD set.
Springsteen played a lot of big shows in L.A., including numerous sets at the Coliseum. He also wrote a letter to the L.A. Times in 2004 declining to be interviewed about the Fender Stratocaster, avowing himself a diehard Telecaster loyalist. L.A. was also home to one of Springsteen's non-New Jersey estates.
Another of the Boss's music video shot locally was for "War," a cover of the 1970 Edwin Starr song. It splices combat footage with that of tape from his show at the L.A. Coliseum during the band's 1985 tour, and opens with Springsteen delivering an anti-war monologue.
Farther north, Springsteen did his song "Fire" at a 1986 Mountain View benefit show for the Bridge School. It's a song that for many is most identified with the Pointer Sisters, who had a number 2 hit with it, but Springsteen wrote it and it became a live staple for him.
On its 40th anniversary, "Born To Run," still has a visceral energy to it. Presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — an avid Springsteen fan — wrote an essay about his love for the song on its anniversary:
Here's how Springsteen described "Born To Run" in a 2005 interview with Rolling Stone:
"I wanted to make the greatest rock record that I'd ever heard, and I wanted it to sound enormous and I wanted it to grab you by your throat and insist that you take that ride, insist that you pay attention, not to just the music, but just to life, to feeling alive, to being alive. That was sort of what the song was asking, and it was taking a step out into the unknown."
Here's audio from Springsteen playing "Born To Run" at the Roxy in L.A.. Have a listen and see if that's how it makes you feel.
Ever catch one of Springsteen's shows in L.A.? Let us know what it was like in the comments!