Bruce Springsteen DAVID McGEE - Essay

DAVID McGEE

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The music [of "Born To Run"] is urgent, full of abrupt stops and startling changes of tempo; the lyrics tell powerful stories of characters on the edge, living out rock and roll dreams….

[The] dreams of 1975 are bleaker than those of the past, as Springsteen's lyrics attest. Lines such as "You get up every morning at the sound of the bell / you go to work late and the boss man's giving you hell / till you're out on a midnight run / losing your heart to a beautiful one" depict a grim world far removed from [surfboard idylls]….

Springsteen's characters are "tramps … born to run" whose glory lies in a moment, not in a lifetime. Their dream is to flash just once; to chance everything in hopes of grabbing onto something they can call their own. These are the dreams that dissolve into lives of quiet desperation.

Power and urgency—the two intangibles of Springsteen's music. Grim or otherwise, the rock dream exists in 1975 with Springsteen as its most eloquent spokesman. He is the agent through whom the music continually defines itself. The images in his songs leap out and touch us down in our cores. In "Thunder Road," for instance, there is the line "Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet"; given the symbolic importance attached to a graduation gown, it is one of rock's most powerful images. "What else can we do now," Springsteen asks, "except to roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair." In essence, your future's nil, but at least you're free, so … take a chance….

David McGee, "The Power and Urgency of Bruce Springsteen," in Record World (copyright © 1975 by Record World Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. 31, No. 1479, October 2, 1975, p. 10.