Mi madre and mon soeur have always been big Bruce Springsteen fans.  Me, not so much.  I never disliked Bruce though, I just never was real into his stuff.  As a kid, I remember the videos for “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark” being in heavy rotation on MTV, but I just never got the bug.  But mi madre had quite a few of his albums, and my whole family got to see him in Cleveland in 2004 on the Vote for Change Tour in Cleveland with R.E.M. and John Fogerty.  I didn’t go though…I think I stayed in Columbus that night and watched OSU lose to Northwestern in overtime.  Smart choice.

But recently I’ve been a bit more interested in Mr. Springsteen.  One of my favorite local musicians, Colin Gawel, has been compared stylistically several times to Bruce Springsteen.  It’s odd because Colin is half of the two-headed monster that is my favorite local band Watershed, and for the most part Watershed sounds like Blink-182 with more intelligent lyrics.  However, Colin has a scratchy, almost bluesy quality to his voice, very similar to Springsteen’s, and the songs he writes definitely have a midwestern roots rock sound.  Watershed even put a cover of “Born to Run” as a hidden track on their album “The More It Hurts, the More It Works”.  As Joe Oestreich, the other half of Watershed has moved out of town, Colin often plays solo acoustic sets with just a guitar and a harmonica, and these shows definitely show off his roots rock sensibilities.

So, with a new enthusiasm for Springsteen, this was my first ever listen to the album “Born to Run”.  I got it brand new on Amazon for the bargain basement price of $3.93 (the only flaw is a hole someone punched through the case).  Let’s just say I was surprised…I was expecting something guitar based with horns, maybe along the lines of Bob Seger or John Mellencamp.  Instead, I heard something much more artistic.  Apparently Bruce wrote most of these songs on the piano, and it shows.  The songs are carefully crafted, and at times they are very dramatic, in an understated Bruce Springsteen kind of way.  At the same time, they exhibit a wanderlust I never had the guts to succumb to in my youth…you know, that desire to just get in a car and drive wherever the road takes you, only stopping when you run out of money for gas.  Oh, and Clarence Clemons, may he rest in peace, wails on this album.  He was definitely the star of the E Street Band.

Other lists: “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road” are #21 and #86 respectively on Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 500 Songs of All Time.  Bruce is #36 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers and #96 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.  He is also #23 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

My favorite song: “Backstreets”

Honorable mention: “Born to Run”

Quote: “And after all this time, to find we’re just like all the rest: stranded in the park and forced to confess to hiding in the backstreets”

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