It’s all over Facebook and Twitter today. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” LP was released 40 years ago today, on Aug. 25, 1975.
Many of my friends are Springsteen fans, and I understand and appreciate their passion for The Boss. I just don’t share it, at least not with that intensity.
I vividly remember when Springsteen was the hottest thing in music, making the covers of Time and Newsweek in the same week. That came in late October 1975, a couple of months after “Born To Run” came out.
That was during the first semester of my freshman year of college, when I was stepping out into the world on my own for the first time. Into that new world came that new sound. I remember thinking: So this is what music is like now.
But at 18, I just wasn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate it all.
As you might imagine, Springsteen sounded like nothing else we’d heard in central Wisconsin. The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, was 854 miles from where I lived. It might as well have been halfway around the world.
At the time, I still viewed music largely through the prism of the radio. In the Midwest, Springsteen’s R&B-influenced Jersey Shore rock seemingly wasn’t suited for anything but free-form FM radio, which by late 1975 was starting to fade from the scene. So we didn’t hear a lot of Springsteen, save for the occasional album cut.
Wanting to be sure I wasn’t remembering it wrong, I checked some of the Wisconsin radio charts from that time. There’s no sign of “Born To Run,” the album or the single.
It wasn’t until after those Time and Newsweek covers came out that Springsteen even registered on the charts at Chicago’s WLS, whose playlist often influenced what other Midwest stations played. Even then, “Born To Run” lasted only two weeks on the WLS album charts. At year’s end, “Born To Run” wasn’t among WLS’ Big 89 songs of 1975.
None of my friends were Springsteen fans. Until I met my friend Doug in 1978, that is. He tried to get me to dig Springsteen in the late ’70s. He tried hard. We met halfway, on another member of the extended Springsteen family. I’ve long enjoyed Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. But I’ve never seen Springsteen live, nor do I have any of his records, much to my son’s chagrin.
Over time, though, I started digging covers, first by others doing Springsteen songs, then by Springsteen doing others’ songs. Here are a couple of those.
“From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come),” Dave Edmunds, from “D.E. 7th,” 1982. It’s out of print but is available digitally. This song, an outtake from “The River” sessions, was given to Edmunds by Springsteen in 1981. Springsteen’s version wasn’t released until 2003.
Springsteen covered “War,” the Motown classic that’s one of my all-time favorites, during his Born in the U.S.A. Tour in 1985.