Joe Taysom

Joe Taysom

 

For every legendary artist, there is a defining moment when their career truly takes off, catapulting them to stardom. For some, this happens almost immediately—a single catches fire and captivates the world. For others, it’s a gradual rise. Bruce Springsteen’s defining moment came with his album *Born to Run*—the record that transformed him into The Boss. Joe Taysom

Joe Taysom

Despite being his third album, *Born to Run* was the project that introduced Springsteen to a global audience, who quickly fell in love with the Jersey boy and his unique brand of down-home Americana. However, despite the album’s undeniable greatness, Springsteen initially had significant misgivings about it. For a time, he even contemplated not releasing the seminal record. Joe Taysom

 

Following the commercial failure of his previous two LPs, *Born to Run* was a pivotal moment for Bruce Springsteen’s career. His earlier albums, *Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.* and *The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle*, may now be considered among his finest work, but they were initially met with a lukewarm response. The world had yet to fully embrace Springsteen’s unique blend of Bob Dylan-inspired songwriting and Rolling Stones-esque showmanship.

Joe Taysom

Fortunately, *Born to Run* achieved commercial success, allowing Springsteen’s journey to continue. However, the story could have taken a dramatically different turn if the album had not resonated with audiences. Recognizing Springsteen as a generational talent, Columbia Records supported him despite the financial losses from his first two albums. They went all in for *Born to Run*, providing a substantial budget for what was essentially his last chance to create a commercially viable album—and secure his career. Joe Taysom

 

Had the response to *Born to Run* mirrored that of his first two albums, Bruce Springsteen might have faced being dropped by Columbia Records, jeopardizing his trajectory toward becoming the stadium-filling icon he is today. Fully aware that this album represented his last chance for mainstream success, Springsteen spared no effort in the studio, working tirelessly for 14 months to perfect the record. However, this prolonged process only led him to develop a sense of resentment toward the material, as he became hyper-focused on perceived flaws in his work. Joe Taysom

 

The album’s title track was released six months ahead of the full record, with the label assuming that Springsteen had completed his tinkering with the album—although they were mistaken. Nonetheless, the early release of “Born to Run” served to generate excitement for the forthcoming album. The song quickly became a radio staple across America, heightening anticipation for Springsteen’s third album—or intensifying pressure, depending on one’s perspective. Joe Taysom

 

Upon its release, Springsteen understood that his life and career hinged on the strength of the eight songs that he had poured every fiber of his being into over the past year and some months. However, this realization plunged him into a state of worry and anxiety about the LP. He seemed to have convinced himself that Born to Run was nothing but a piece of trash, believing that nobody in their right mind would enjoy listening to it.

 

“After it was finished? I hated it! I couldn’t stand to listen to it,” Springsteen later admitted. “I thought it was the worst piece of garbage I’d ever heard. I told Columbia I wouldn’t release it. I told ‘em I’d just go down to the Bottom Line gig and do all the new songs and make it a live album.”

Joe Taysom

He later expanded on this feeling to Rolling Stone in 2015, “I’ve always had a bit of an ambivalent attitude towards… what was I afraid of? Change, I don’t know [laughs]. Also, it was a moment when your music was the totality of your identity, and so you were so caught up and so invested in it.

 

“To accept that our fortunes were going to rest on whatever this was, for better or for worse. That was a big responsibility at the time, and we were putting everything we had on what we’d done. So it was just traumatic.” Joe Taysom

 

Springsteen’s career truly hung in the balance, and he felt as though he didn’t have anybody else to blame but himself if it didn’t become a success. Columbia even spent $250,000 on a marketing campaign for the record, which rescued the album after it charted at 84 in the first week of sales. This campaign helped rocket the record into the top ten the following week, and it soon went gold and became a mainstay of Springsteen’s rich canon. Joe Taysom

 

The stress that Springsteen felt around the release of the record, coupled with the relentless examination of every detail across a 14-month period, led to him growing to hate the record, an unusual position for any artist. It’s especially strange considering that Born To Run is the sound of Springsteen spreading his wings.  Joe Taysom

 

Born to Run represents a climactic moment for Springsteen as he finally achieved the superstar status he so badly craved. The Boss only really took his title after the album sold thousands and thousands of copies across the globe. An album propped up by legend-making hits is a critical moment in Springsteen’s impressive career. Though he kept his lyrics deliberately squared at the working man’s everyday struggle, he also began to add an air of optimism to his sound, and an album full of radio-ready rock songs meant the singer was looking toward American mythology for his greatest inspiration.

 

 

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