Happy Birthday, Boss! This week, Bruce Springsteen turns 60. He should be feeling pretty good about himself: the E Street Band is working its way to the conclusion of yet another triumphant world tour and despite the lukewarm reaction to Working On A Dream, released last January, the dude's face has long been carved onto Mount Rockmore. So to help celebrate the entrance into late middle age of New Jersey's favorite son, below is my list of the top 10 Springsteen songs. You can probably guess what's at number 1, but I think there are some surprises sprinkled in there too. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices in the comments section.
10. "Brilliant Disguise": 1987's Tunnel Of Love found Springsteen addressing the twin challenges of mega-stardom (1984's Born In The U.S.A. was massively successful) and personal turmoil (his marriage was faltering). "Disguise's" subdued and questioning tone showed, brilliantly, a pop star standing at the crossroads, unsure of where to go.
9. "The River": The mournful folk-rock title track from Springsteen's 1981 double-album shows Springsteen's gift for both novelistic lyrical detail and a killer harmonica hook.
8. "I'm On Fire": A spooky, minimal track from Born In The U.S.A. that simmers with unfulfilled desire. Best listened to on long walks at night, alone.
7. "Atlantic City": Song-noir from 1982's stripped-down Nebraska. Not everything on the boardwalk was carnivals and candy apples.
6. "Backstreets": Rock'n'roll has no better song about platonic male friendship. And the build on this one, which culminates in a guitar solo quivering with passion, is incredible.
5. "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City": Springsteen's earliest albums were the funny and exuberant outbursts of a young man who'd discovered he had something to say and a gift for saying it. This tumbling rocker from his 1973 debut, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., is a ragged masterpiece of urban jive talk.
4. "4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)": He's Jersey to the bone, and this gorgeously lilting boardwalk reverie from Springsteen's sophomore effort, 1973's The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, captures the dilapidated magic of his home state's slowly decaying seaside towns.
3. "Thunder Road": The second best-known song on 1975's breakthrough album Born to Run features a marvelously poetic opening verse and is, in a more ruminative way, as epically widescreen as that album's first best-known song.
2. "Badlands": Springsteen's most defiant and rousing song, and a great example of the crackling lead guitar sound he used on 1978's Darkness On The Edge of Town-perhaps his most underrated effort.
1. "Born To Run": What else?
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