An artist hating their biggest hits is nothing new. David Bowie became so tired of ‘Space Oddity’ that he threatened to destroy the masters and even Frank Sinatra declared that he hated ‘Strangers in the Night’, famously saying: “The first time I heard it, and I still hate it!” When it comes to the 1975 anthemic album Born To Run – which has become synonymous with The Boss – Springsteen for a time was no different.
The album is a rock epic that attracts adjectives such as ‘soaring’ and ‘euphoric’ perfectly encapsulating the feeling of blue-collar sun-soaked youth, but upon hearing it for the first time Springsteen saw things differently and wanted to hurl the record into his hotel pool.
When the musician appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show he recalled: “When you first start, you’re not used to hearing yourself, even two or three records in, I just couldn’t get used to the sound of my voice. Very often, it sounds terrible to you. You’re making all these choices which you end up not comfortable with. I recorded that when I was a 24-year-old kid, you know?”
The story goes that legendary record producer Jimmy Iovine flew out to meet Springsteen with the album mid-tour, and they hurriedly searched for a turntable. “We had to go to a music store,” Springsteen explains, “And we had to ask the guy if we could use the record player in the back of the music store.”
He continued: “So I’m listening to the mastering of Born To Run, the two of us are standing there. … Jimmy is trying to get me to say it’s okay – ‘We can release it?’ – and I’m like, ‘Nhhhh … into the pool at the hotel!’ At any rate, we did release it and it worked out alright.”
‘It worked out alright’ is a very modest understatement indeed. The Boss’ third studio album has sold well over six million copies in the United States alone and resides amid the upper echelons of mainstream rock ‘n’ roll. After a commercially underperforming debut, this third outing cemented his place in the rock elite.
Not only are the songs instantly recognisable from the album, but the artwork could be depicted by a silhouette and the majority of music fans would still be able to identify it as Born to Run. This was an element of the record that Springsteen was a little more instantly endeared to, “One of my very favourite album covers – the one that means the most to me. The nice thing about that cover is, it tells a story,” he said. “It’s the beginning of a narrative. … It immediately makes you think about friendship, electricity, musical magic. It’s the beginning of some tall tale.” And that is an ethos the bleeds into the iconic album throughout.