At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway nine,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected,and steppin’ out over the line
H-Oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
One of the things about getting older is that you have a sense of deep time and continuity with your past and some things spring out of your past to surprise you. Such as the fact that Springsteen’s album Born to Run is now 40 years old. In the odd way that time works it doesn’t seem that long ago that I bought a copy of this album, back in the day when buying an album was an experience. There were cover notes to read, the lyrics to get your head around and all the shots of the band scattered around the cover. You had to buy the mandatory plastic sleeve to protect the cover and pinch a milk crate from somewhere to store them in because in one of those industrial evolution quirks milk crates were just the right size to house albums.
This piece does a nice job of placing Born to Run within the context of Springsteen’s career. Born to Run gets into my list of top three Springsteen songs but always sitting at the top has been The River from the album of the same name, simply because of its haunting opening. Springsteen is the only person who could get away with having a song open with a wailing harmonica refrain which seems to somehow capture the desolation and loss of youth that is central to the song.