Grab your tie-dye and bell bottoms because we’ll be spending the next month exploring the albums of 1975, in the latest installment of the Decades series. I’ve covered the first five years of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s and now I’m wrapping back around to focus on the middle year of each decade.
As usual, I’ll start by counting down my personal favorite albums from the year then highlight some of the critically and commercially popular releases with which I’m less familiar.
#5 – Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen’s third album was his bid for mainstream popularity, honing the meandering folk rock of his first two records into a tight, muscular burst of rock-n-roll.
Springsteen describes his vision for the album as “Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan, produced by Spector,” which sums it up pretty nicely. The Wall of Sound production brings epic glamour to the Boss’ street smart poetry.
Born to Run contains just eight songs, but oh what a lineup. In addition to the titular classic, perhaps the best rock song of all time, you have ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,’ ‘Night,’ ‘Backstreets,’ ‘She’s the One,’ ‘Meeting Across the River,’ ‘Jungleland,’ and ‘Thunder Road.’ How’s that for a batting average? When I recently saw Springsteen in concert, he played six of these eight songs.
This album is Springsteen’s second-best seller, behind only the Diamond-certified Born in the U.S.A., and perhaps the one that best exemplifies his heartland heroism. In a town full of losers, he was pulling out of there to win.
The screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways
Like a vision, she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey, that’s me, and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside
Darling, you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared, and you’re thinking
That maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty, but hey, you’re alright
Oh, and that’s alright with me
You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a saviour to rise from these streets
Well now, I’m no hero, that’s understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night’s busting open
These two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven’s waiting down on the tracks
Oh-oh come take my hand
We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh-oh Thunder Road oh Thunder Road oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey, I know it’s late, we can make it if we run
Oh, Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold
Well I got this guitar, and I learned how to make it talk
And my car’s out back if you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door’s open but the ride it ain’t free
And I know you’re lonely for words that I ain’t spoken
But tonight we’ll be free, all the promises’ll be broken
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road
In the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they’re gone on the wind
So Mary, climb in
It’s a town full of losers
And I’m pulling out of here to win
What’s particularly poignant about these throwback series is you look back not only at specific albums but at a time period that embraced them. I’m completely guilty of listening to Springsteen songs sprinkled in with a mix of others on a playlist or Spotify station. There are very few albums I still make a point to listen to straight through. Since I was just a little kid when this album debuted, I can’t say I’ve ever heard it in its entirety though I’m certainly familiar with its most famous tracks. Look forward to the deep dive and the opportunity to fill in some musical gaps.
A great song and album to kick off the latest installment of the decades series! 1975 was just about the time my eight year old self was beginning to listen to adult music.
I remember hearing and really digging (how’s that for a 70s term?) “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” on the radio, though not knowing it was a Springsteen song until years later. In fairness, I still think the song sounds different than most other Springsteen songs given its more commercial style and production.
Trying to remember what my 30 year old self was listening to then with two children 3 and 8 years old running around. We were living in Jupiter, Florida, and probably still playing Sinatra a lot. However I always loved listening to rock music and Springsteen remains one of my favorites!