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Weekend Songs: Bruce Springsteen, ‘Born to Run’

Bruce Springsteen, 'Born to Run'
Columbia Records

Classic rock is about heavy hooks, power chords, and tight harmonies, but it’s also about letting loose and enjoying the good times — and there’s no better time than Friday evening, when we pick up our paycheck, punch out of work, and enjoy a couple days of much-needed rest and relaxation.

This Friday, we’re raising a glass to an artist whose musical mission statement basically defines what weekend songs are all about: The tireless pursuit of the redemptive power of rock and roll — and a full-throated tribute to music’s ability to deliver us to a better place, replenishing our faith in our dreams along the way. All of which, not coincidentally, describes today’s song in a nutshell.

Today, ‘Born to Run’ is considered a timeless anthem, but upon its release on Aug. 25, 1975, it was just the title track of the third album from a low-selling New Jersey artist named Bruce Springsteen — as well as his latest (and quite possibly last) bid for a hit. We all know how the story ends, of course: The song broke Springsteen through to the mainstream, getting close to the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 (not to mention eventually hitting No. 16 on our list of the Top 100 Classic Rock Songs) and triggering a flurry of attention that included an unprecedented simultaneous appearance on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazine.

All that success was sparked by a ringing ode to the universal blue-collar thrill of getting in your car, hitting the streets with a loved one, and sharing your unshakeable innermost belief that the two of you are destined for brighter days and broader horizons. “Baby, this town rips the bones from your back,” Springsteen pleads in the first verse. “It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap / We gotta get out while we’re young / ‘Cause tramps like us — baby, we were born to run.”

They’re heavier sentiments than we’ll usually hear in this series, but they’re shot through with roaring optimism, and the song’s wordless refrain is such a perfect expression of that exhilarating just-got-off-work feeling that ‘Born to Run’ is still played every Friday at 5 P.M. on Cleveland’s WNCX. But why wait? Let’s hit play, crank up the volume, and get the weekend started right now.

Next: Boston, 'More Than a Feeling

Listen to Bruce Springsteen, ‘Born to Run’

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