Meaning of Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

The first two studio albums of Bruce Springsteen did not make him a star of the rock scene. They were successful in several American states, but generally sold poorly, and there was no need to talk about the singer’s popularity across the country.

The third disc was decisive for the further fate of the musician, because in case of failure, the Columbia label would have terminated the contract with him. But, as you know, Springsteen released a great album Born to Run, and the title track became the hallmark of the artist.

Born to Run song history

Bruce Springsteen wrote Born to Run throughout the spring and summer of 1974. He later recalled that he composed the first drafts of the song at his home in New Jersey:

One day I was sitting on the edge of my bed, playing the guitar, working through some song ideas, and all of a sudden the words “born to run” came to mind. At first I thought it was the name of a movie or something that I could see on the car when I was doing circles around the area. I liked that line because it suggested cinematic drama, and I thought it could work with the music that was in my head.

This was followed by six months of work on the song. Springsteen ruthlessly changed entire lines of the text to make it sound spontaneous when it wasn’t. He experimented with different instruments and vocals.

Meaning of Born to Run

Born to Run is performed from the perspective of a simple guy who is suffocating in his hometown and dreams of breaking out of it with his girlfriend. Undoubtedly, the author put a lot of personal experiences into the text, since he himself was born in Freehold, a small town in New Jersey, and the ninth highway mentioned in the song passed by his house.

On November 3, 1974, Bruce introduced Born to Run to Philadelphia WMMR radio listeners by playing it live. The Springsteen manager then sent the cassettes to other stations. So the composition began to turn into a hit. After that, it was too late to continue to radically change it.

Recording and release

The recording process in the studio was also agonizing due to Bruce’s over-the-top perfectionism. He tried to achieve the ideal, in his opinion, sound, which infuriated his colleagues. When the final version of Born to Run was ready, Springsteen found it terrible. The singer was ready to abandon the composition, but the producer convinced him that everything was in order with her.

The song became the title track of the album Born to Run and was released as the first single from the record, which climbed to number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Covers of Born to Run were performed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Big Daddy, Suzi Quatro and other famous musicians.

Rolling Stone magazine included it in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was also included in the Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

Videoclip Born to Run

Watch the online music video for Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.

Interesting Facts

  • Allan Clark of The Hollies recorded Born to Run before Springsteen, but the release of his version was delayed so that the author would be the first to present the composition.
    The song plays on radio station WNCX (Cleveland) every Friday at five o’clock in the evening.
  • In New Jersey, community activists tried to make Born to Run the state’s official song.
  • In December 2013, at an auction in New York, the song’s lyrics, written by the author in blue ink on a notepad, were sold for $197,000.

Bruce Springsteen Born to Run Lyrics

In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin’ out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we were young
’cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Wendy let me in, I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands ‘cross my engines
Together we could break this trap
We’ll run till we drop, baby well never go back
Will you walk with me out on the wire
’cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real

Beyond the palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard
The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you Wendy on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss

The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight but there’s no place left to hide
Together Wendy we’ll live with the sadness
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday girl I don’t know when we’re gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go and we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us baby we were born to run

Born to Run Lyrics Bruce Springsteen

During the day we work in the streets of the runaway “American dream”
At night we drive through the castles of glory in suicide cars
Breaking out of the cages on the ninth highway
On chrome wheels, full tanks, we cross the line
Baby, this city is tearing the bones out of your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicidal sentence
We gotta get out of here while we’re young
‘Cause bums like us, baby, were born to run

Wendy let me in I want to be your friend
I want to keep your dreams and visions
Just wrap your feet around those velvet headbands
And hug my engines
Together we will break this trap
We’ll run until we drop, baby, but we’ll never come back
Come with me to the very end
‘Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider
But I have to understand what it’s like
I want to know if love is crazy, baby, I want to know if love is real

Outside the palace, racing cars screech past on the boulevard.
Girls fixing their hair while looking in the rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so cool
The amusement park rises vertically and strictly
Guys crowd in the haze on the beach
Tonight I want to die with you, Wendy, right on the streets
In an eternal kiss

The highways are full of broken heroes who have one last chance to get drunk
Everyone is trying to escape tonight, but there’s nowhere to hide
Together, Wendy, we’ll deal with sorrow
I will love you with all the madness of my soul
One day – baby, I don’t know when – we’ll get there
Where we really want to go and we’ll walk in the sun
But before that, baby, vagabonds like us are born to run

Song quote

Born to Run was the song of my youth. Now I have to write something else. I was drawn to country music and older blues and folk because they address adult issues and adult issues in equal measure. And I thought, for me, this is the job of a lifetime. I want to write songs that I can sing in that glorious old age of forty.

Bruce Springsteen, National Public Radio, 2005

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