Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run

"Born to Run" is the title song from Bruce Springsteen's third album, released in 1975.


Story behind the song

"Born to Run" was Bruce Springsteen's final attempt to achieve success. Previously, Springsteen released two albums which weren't commercially successful.

The song was written at 7½ West End Court in Long Branch, New Jersey in early 1974.

Bruce recalled that one day he was playing guitar on his bed, working on some song ideas, and the words "born to run" came to his mind. At first, he thought it was the name of a movie or something he'd seen on a car spinning around the circuit. He liked the phrase because it suggested a cinematic drama that he thought would work with the music that he heard in his head. [1]

In the opening lines of the song, Bruce invoked one of his favorite metaphors — an automobile as means of escape from the dead ends and disappointments that constrained young, working-class Americans. [2]

In his 1996 book Songs, he notes that while the beginning of the song was written on guitar, the songwriting was finished on a piano, as the most of the song from the album.

Bruce Springsteen laid down eleven guitar tracks to get the right sound for the song during the recording sessions, earning his notable reputation for perfectionism for the first time.

The song was recorded at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York during touring breaks in 1974, with the final recording done on August 6 with Ernest "Boom" Carter on the drums and David Sancious on keyboards. Ernest and David were substituted by Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan for the remainder of the album and in the ongoing E Street Band. Initially, Springsteen and Mike Appel were the only producers of the song, but in the following year, Jon Landau was brought in as an additional producer. Future record executive Jimmy Iovine engineered the majority of the sessions.

This song made its radio debut on Nov. 3, 1974, on Philadelphia rock station WMMR, nine months before the album was released. [3]

A pre-release version of "Born to Run," with a slightly different mix, was given by Mike Appel to Ed Sciaky of WMMR, and within few weeks was given to other progressive rock radios, such as WBCN in Boston, WNEW-FM in New York, WMMS in Cleveland, and others. The song quickly became popular on these stations, building anticipation for the album release. [2]

When the song and the album were finally released in August 1975, they brought a long-awaited success for Springsteen, resulting in simultaneous cover stories in Time and Newsweek magazines.

The song ranked #21 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

A sheet of paper with a handwritten draft of "Born to Run" lyrics was sold for $197,000 at the Sothebys auction in 2013. [1]

Music videos

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Album version.

The official video for the song wasn't released, but in 1987, a video featuring a live performance of "Born to Run" from Springsteen and the E Street Band's 1984-1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour, was released to MTV and other channels.

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Live version

"Born to Run" joined Bruce Springsteen's concert repertoire before the release of the album, being performed live by May 1974, if not earlier. The song became his most played song, performed live more than 1400 times.

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Live performance at Capital Centre in Landover, MD on August 15, 1978.

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Live performance at Glastonbury in 2009.

Notable covers

Frankie Goes to Hollywood made a cover of this song in 1984.

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Suzi Quatro covered the song in 1996.

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Amy Macdonald presented an acoustic cover of the song in 2010.

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Gear and settings


Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is known for his loyalty to his famous 1950 Fender with a Telecaster body and an Esquire neck. It has swamp ash body, maple neck, and black pickguard. He used it for every record, and he still uses it live. [4]

Springsteen's guitar is constructed from parts from at least two other Fender guitars. The bolt-on neck seems to date from 1957. The Esquire decal on the headstock indicates that the neck came from the single-pickup version of Fender's two-pickup Telecaster. [4]

Telecaster body was from the guitar, owned by a record company in the 1960s. It had four pickups wired into extra jacks that were plugged into separate channels on the recording console. With such modification, the session player could produce four variations of the same guitar solo. [4]

A large area under the pickguard has room for those modifications, which were removed before the guitar was sold to Springsteen. So this lightweight guitar became almost ethereal. [4]

This guitar is featured on the album's cover.

Garry Tallent

These years, bassist Garry Tallent used Danelectro Longhorn basses. The Longhorns were Garry's main instruments in the early years with the E Street Band both live and in the studio. [5]

Garry Tallent with Danelectro Longhorn bass in 1975. Image via

Amps and effects

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen didn't recall the equipment used in the studio but based on the live equipment, most possibly he used Fender '59 Bassman 4X10 Guitar Combo.

Garry Tallent

Garry Tallent reportedly used the classic Ampeg B-15S 60-watt combo amp. [5]

Ampeg B-15S 60-watt combo amp

Amp settings

  • Gain - 3
  • Treble - 4
  • Mids - 6
  • Bass - 7

Also, on the album record, there is a notable tremolo effect, though it's unclear if it was caused by additional guitar tracks on the record or became the result of the usage of some equipment. If you'll use the tremolo unit, then set it at a moderately fast rate.


Guitars: standard tuning (E A D G B E).

Bass: standard tuning (E A D G).

Song key

The song is written in the key of E Major.


Notably, the song has a lot of instruments in the mix, and some parts don't contain guitar tracks at all, though most of this parts can be arranged for the guitar using power chords.

Song breakdown

The song has the following structure:

Intro - Verse 1 - Interlude 1 - Verse 2 - Interlude 2 - Sax solo - Bridge - Guitar solo - Verse 3 - Outro

The intro starts with the main guitar riff, which consists of the chord strum (E chord), followed by the single-note line.

This riff is also played in the first and second interludes, as well as in the outro.

In the first halves of the first and second verses, the guitar plays power chords, while in the second halves of these verses it stays silent. The whole third verse doesn't contain the guitar parts.

During the saxophone solo, the guitar plays chords and power chords. It's possible to recreate this solo on the electric guitar using slides (or bends as an alternative), hammer-ons and pull-offs.

In the bridge, the guitar plays arpeggios.

Tremolo picking is the essential feature of the guitar solo.

Guitar lesson

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Guitar lesson for acoustic guitar

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Bass cover

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  1. 1 2 Sothebys. "FINE BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS, INCLUDING AMERICANA 132 Springsteen, Bruce"
  2. 1 2 "Born to Run and the Decline of the American Dream"
  3. "30 Facts About Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run"
  4. 1 2 3 4 Rolling Stone. "Bruce Springsteen's Favorite Guitar: The Story Behind One-of-a-Kind Fender"
  5. 1 2 "The Gear"

"Born To Run" song

Album: Born to Run
Track number: 5
Track length: 4:30
Writer(s): Bruce Springsteen
Lyrics: Bruce Springsteen
Tabs on UG: Born To Run
ISRC: USSM17500423
MusicBrainz Id: 7ada2178-c1db-4a24-9760-810681e95308
engineer: לואי להב
drums: Ernest Carter
bass guitar: Garry Tallent
keyboard: David Sancious
guitar: Bruce Springsteen
saxophone: Clarence Clemons
organ: Danny Federici
mastering: Greg Calbi, Bob Ludwig
mixer: Jimmy Iovine
producer: Bruce Springsteen, Mike Appel
vocal: Bruce Springsteen