What are your favorite Bruce Springsteen songs?

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brucespringsteenbannerI haven’t done one of these in a while, so let’s get back into it this time with Bruce Springsteen. As has been the case in the past, this is a list of personal favorites, followed up with you weighing in with your own. I’m usually not into ranking things, and that’s ESPECIALLY the case with Bruce; his library is so gigantic that even if I’d heard every last piece of his work, ranking it would be too daunting of a task.

There are some that stand out for me though, a mix of well-known hits, fan favorites, and a deep cut or two. I’ve listed 20 here, and I guess it starts and ends with Born To Run, my favorite Springsteen album and the one that for me served as the gateway drug for the rest of his catalog. I have six of Born To Run‘s eight songs on here; maybe that feels like there’s a lack of variety in my picks, but I can’t leave any of them off.

Here are my favorites, in alphabetical order:

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Backstreets (from Born To Run)
It’s been over 20 years since I first listened to Born To Run, and I don’t know if it’ll ever get old. It may be too bombastic for some, but that’s what I love about it — Bruce pushed the limits and came away with something truly epic. “Thunder Road” is my favorite track off the album and probably my favorite track overall, but the rest aren’t that far behind. The epics “Jungleland” and “Backstreets” are always compelling listens, while “She’s The One,” “Night” and “Born To Run” always get my spirits up. I’m glad that Bruce didn’t try to make every album like Born to Run, but nonetheless, it’ll always be my favorite Springsteen moment. And it’s always worth listening to for The Big Man Clarence Clemons’s sax alone.

Bobby Jean (from Born In The USA)
Over half of this album’s songs were released as singles, but two of my favorites were two that weren’t — this song and “No Surrender.” Maybe the singles just have been overplayed too much for my taste, although there’s no question they’re great songs and it’s a grand slam of an album. The third choice from that album was a single, the wonderful “My Hometown,” which I think so many people can relate to in one way or another.

Born to Run (from Born To Run)

Incident on 57th Street (from The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle)
This album is regarded by many as Bruce’s first classic. There’s a track or two I don’t care for, but I love most of it, in particular this song and “New York City Serenade” (“Sandy” and “Rosalita” are certainly worth mention too). This is the album where Bruce started to really grow as a songwriter, and it shows.

Jungleland (from Born To Run)

My Hometown (from Born In The USA)

New York City Serenade The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle

Night (from Born To Run)

No Surrender (from Born In The USA)

Paradise (from The Rising)
This album is one that captures the feeling of what the U.S. was like immediately following 9/11. There are multiple poignant moments on it, but perhaps the most memorable is this track, which starts thorough the eyes of a suicide bomber before switching its point of view to that of a woman who lost her husband in the Pentagon attacks. It’s a punch in the gut, and one of Bruce’s most powerful songs.

The Promised Land (from Darkness On the Edge of Town)
Darkness was certainly a worthy, gritty follow-up to Born To Run and an album that always gets mentioned when people debate which Springsteen album is the best. There are quite a few possibilities from this album but I like this uplifting track as well as fan favorite “Prove It All Night” and its Big Man sax.

Prove It All Night (from Darkness On the Edge of Town)

The River (from The River)
Much of The River is upbeat, but I guess I’m drawn to the stuff on it that isn’t. Not sure what that says about me, but I find the title track and the haunting failed relationship song “Stolen Car” to be the two most compelling songs on the album. It was here that Bruce started moving towards what would result in Nebraska and Tunnel of Love. But I also love the irresistable “Sherry Darling,” easily one of my favorite upbeat Springsteen rockers.

Streets of Philadelphia (from the film Philadelphia)
In my younger and more naive years, I looked at this video and dismissed it as Bruce mumbling something to himself as he walked down the sidewalk. Obviously it’s much more than that, and I grew to appreciate it much more. It’s an appropriately downbeat song for a downbeat movie, although while I thought the movie was good, my favorite things about it were easily this song and the tearjerking “Philadelphia” by Neil Young.

Sherry Darling (from The River)

She’s The One (from Born To Run)

Stolen Car (from The River)

Thunder Road (from Born To Run)

The Wrestler (from the film The Wrestler)
Speaking of downbeat and depressing movies, here’s another one. “Streets” won an Oscar for Bruce, and this one should have as well, although criminally it wasn’t even nominated. The song is a perfect match with the movie and its downtrodden main character. I’ve still never seen a one-legged dog though.

Youngstown (from The Ghost of Tom Joad)
This one hits home, being from the Rust Belt. It’s got some of my favorite Springsteen lyrics, especially this: Well my daddy come on the Ohio works/When he come home from World War II/Now the yard’s just scrap and rubble/He said, “Them big boys did what Hitler couldn’t do.” Powerful stuff.

Now let us know your favorites, via the comments section or message boards!

Photo credit: By Bill Ebbesen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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2 comments on “What are your favorite Bruce Springsteen songs?
  1. Streets of philadelphia one of my favorites. Had a few friends die of aids so brings me to tears if I really get into the lyrics.

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