In the Day We Sweat It Out on the Streets...

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Born to Run turns 40 years old today. Slate looks back at Springsteen's struggle to get the album recorded in the early days of his career:
Bruce kept struggling to get on tape the sound he had in his head, and at times it seemed like he was ready to give up. Long nights at the studio ended in misery, the atmosphere tense and rancorous. To stay awake, engineer Jimmy Iovine would take a piece of gum, throw it away, and chew on the aluminum wrapping. In the end, Springsteen was miserable: “After it was finished? I hated it! I couldn't stand to listen to it. I thought it was the worst piece of garbage I'd ever heard.”

He almost didn't release it. But Jon Landau, who had stepped in as a producer, helped persuade him to let go. According to writer Dave Marsh, Landau called Springsteen and said, “Look, you're not supposed to like it. You think Chuck Berry sits around listening to ‘Maybellene’? And when he does hear it, don't you think he wishes a few things could be [changed]? Now c'mon, it's time to put the record out.” The album appeared in 1975, and it launched Springsteen toward megastardom, getting him on the covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously. Reviewing the album in Rolling Stone, Greil Marcus proclaimed, “It is a magnificent album that pays off on every bet ever placed on him—a '57 Chevy running on melted down Crystals records that shuts down every claim that has been made. And it should crack his future wide open.”
The Wall Street Journal assembles vintage performances of all the songs on the album here, Michael Calia notes:

On a more personal level, the album “Born to Run” and its title-track single marked Springsteen’s move away from manager and producer Mike Appel to rock critic, producer and manager Jon Landau, who once proclaimed the N.J. artist the future of rock and roll. Instead of continuing with the ragged singer-songwriter style of his acclaimed but low-selling first albums, “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” and “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle,” on “Born to Run,” Springsteen embraced a cleaner, bigger production style inspired by Phil Spector‘s “Wall of Sound” and a pop sensibility reminiscent of Roy Orbison, who is name-checked on opening track “Thunder Road.”

The creation of the album also brought about the core of the E Street Band that would last well into the 1980s and endured much of the band’s revival starting in the late 1990s. Together, Springsteen and his band — featuring guitarist Steve Van Zandt, the late sax player Clarence Clemons, pianist Roy Bittan, late organ player Danny Federici, bassist Garry W. Tallent and drummer Max Weinberg — created one of the most formidable live acts in rock history, putting on shows that would last for three hours or more that would include epic versions of tracks off “Born to Run.”

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