“Nothing will work unless you do.”
Passion fueled by hunger and desperation often produces magical results: Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s third album, is a perfect example. He was just 25 when the album was released and its instant success rocketed him to fame. But the Boss traveled a rocky road to get there: his first two albums hadn’t sold well and his recording company planned to drop him if number three tanked. The pressure was tremendous — so were the problems.
“Born to Run” was the first song he recorded and it took Bruce and his band six months — not six days or weeks, six months! — to get the final cut. Out to create the greatest rock n’ roll album around, the young artist retooled and reworked the song six ways to Sunday, trying every possible arrangement and style, from doo-wop to church choirs and strings. The same holds true for the song’s lyrics. He rewrote it so many times that his notebook of revisions filled 50 pages! Later he recalled: “I really worked hard at getting the soul of the song…and kept stripping away cliches until it started to feel emotionally real.”
Bruce brought the same drive and focus to other songs in the album. One famous saxophone solo was created one note at a time in a 16-hour marathon recording session. The musician playing it said he doesn’t remember even stopping to eat!
When Bruce received the test press of the album, the gap between what he’d heard in his head and the vinyl version was so huge that he wanted to scrap the whole album and start over. Luckily, he didn’t — and the rest is history.
The passion that Bruce poured into his work made Born to Run a runaway success. Revising, retooling, rewriting — he kept at it until he found the “soul” of his songs. Hey, just like the Boss, we’re born to run! Along with a little bit of soul, we just need to bring the same kind of passion and energy he did to the page.