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The engagement attracted major media attention, was broadcast live on WNEW-FM, and convinced many skeptics that Springsteen was for real. With the release of Born to Run on August 25, , Springsteen finally found success. Musically, this album was a turning point in Springsteen's career. Gone were the raw, rapid-fire lyrics, outsized characters and long, multi-part musical compositions of the first two albums; now the songs were leaner and more carefully drawn. The album peaked at 3 on the Billboard , and while there were no hit singles, "Born to Run" Billboard 23 , "Thunder Road", "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" Billboard 83 , and "Jungleland" all received massive album-oriented rock airplay and remain perennial favorites on many classic rock stations.
With its panoramic imagery, thundering production and desperate optimism, "Born to Run" is considered by some fans to be among the best rock and roll albums of all time and Springsteen's finest work. It established him as a sincere and dynamic rock and roll personality who spoke for and in the voice of a large part of the rock audience. To cap off the triumph, Springsteen appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, on October 27 of that year.
In the summer of , Bruce Springsteen was backed against the ropes. Jon Landau of Rolling Stone, who famously wrote in that Springsteen was "rock and roll future," had taken leave from his job to help him finish his third record. The album, to be named Born to Run, had kept Springsteen in the studio for over a year, and he knew it was his last shot at a breakthrough. But if it was to be his defining statement, he needed an audience to validate it. He got that audience with an electrifying ten-show stand at a seat club in Greenwich Village called the Bottom Line.
It would propel him onto the October 27 covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously and mark a turning point both for his career and for rock music. Having been "discovered" by John Hammond, who a decade earlier had brought a young Bob Dylan to Columbia Records, Bruce was predictably hailed as "the next Dylan" in Even though his first two albums didn't really sell, his incendiary live shows made him a cult favorite. Columbia executives hoped to use this magic to build a buzz for Born to Run. His official manager, Mike Appel who would soon embark on a bitter power struggle with Landau , was so convinced that Springsteen was ready for the big time that he originally tried to book him into Madison Square Garden, but he wasn't popular enough--yet.
So his 10 shows took place over five nights at the Bottom Line, from August 13 to Of the club's 4, seats for the run, Columbia wisely reserved for the media, which had mostly been resistant to Springsteen up to that point. He told his listeners, "I saw Springsteen for the first time last night. Countless others became converts during that week. That show went on to become one of the most widely bootlegged concert recordings of the decade and served as proof that Bruce was more than just hype.
Beginning with the saxophonist Clarence Clemons's opening to "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," Springsteen had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Stanley Snadowsky, one of the club's former owners it was closed in , recalled, "The raw power was unbelievable. He climbed on the building's poles, the piano, the tables. He was so exposed in such a reckless way, everyone felt it.
But the shows were about far more than onstage gimmicks. Springsteen and his band showed off every weapon in their musical arsenal. A few songs after "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," he would carry the crowd through the title track to the forthcoming album—a cut that had taken him six months of sporadic work to record. Another highlight was the jazz-fueled tour de force, "Kitty's Back. Then came the show-stopping romp "Rosalita.
This metamorphosis was not lost on him: "It was our coming-out party. And some sort of transformation occurred over those five nights. We walked out of that place in a different place. Springsteen has always claimed a redemptive power for rock. He cites the purchase of his first guitar as the moment when he discovered his life's purpose. But by the medium had gone stagnant. The stakes were high that week, but up against the ropes, he came out swinging with everything he had each night. After knocking out the New York crowds that week in , he hasn't looked back.
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