In those autumn evenings, where we start to feel cold temperatures coming, it often happens to think that the best way to spend time is to read a beautiful story in front of a fireplace. But then the attention drops, a bit because you are tired, a bit because of the soft light of the lamp. And typically you abandon the novel.
If it happens to you too, then Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run is the right album for the occasion.
They’re stories, and the whole thing lasts just 40 minutes. Simple, fast and epic.
Yes, because it’s not the duration that makes the epicity of a record. It’s the arrangements, the strings, the guitar and the rhythms. The set of sounds that compose it. And this album, ladies and gentlemen, is not just rock’n’roll.
Feel the sound of the harmonica and rhythm of the piano played by Roy Bittan, and the voice of Bruce Springsteen that begins this story as if it were inside one of those smoky clubs in New York.
The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey, that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
They are flashes of light, scenes of a movie that just begun, where the spectator doesn’t even know what happened, but finds himself suddenly in there. Simple and dense, imposing and fragile. A lopsided ballad that turns into a strong and vigorous rock’n’roll. A song with a piano that touches your inner strings, with notes that bring you close to the stage, where there is a band that stands between jazz, soul, blues, swing. And you see those girls raising their hands for Scooter and Big Man. Two men that carry on their dream and their illusion, two men that want to conquer the city with music, while Tenth Avenue freezes out.
That’s the same street where a man drives his car like an insane, tired of work and madly in love with a girl. Tired of a life that uses it in a factory with long and exhausting shifts, but still a man that fights for a love that perhaps is just dreamed, or maybe it’s real, like the Night when he drives his Cadillac.
And then things are calm again, the heart slows down and you want to figure out who that guy around the corner is. He’s crying, sighing, he tells you about Terry and that summer spent together. When a friendship between a boy and a girl turned into something more, in a sweet love story, which led them to spend evenings together listening to music, talking, cuddling on the beaches and hiding in the secondary streets “with a love so hard and filled with defeat”.
Next comes youth. You can feel it in that snare drum, in that winds telling us that it’s time to explain the adolescence, the rhythms of the night and the day, the moments when you feel compressed in the small village or in the neighborhood where you live, and you only want to scream at night, to love and to run with your car, because you know that you were Born To Run. You know that you are not the only one in this world, but that you are the one who can change it.
And if there is a way to change that world, you know, it’s love. Also the one you find in those tender summer evenings, the one for a girl who remains the love of your life just for few moments. And if she’s the queen who thinks to own you, you’re the hunter who’s going to betray her. Because, yes, She’s The One, but you love to savor the bitterness of another story gone wrong.
And behind the other corner of the street, by the river, can you see that guy asking for a ride? He’s got an important date with some important people. Maybe he’s risking or maybe he just needs to feel important, with a nice shirt and a little respect from people who’s not very used to give it. And his friends don’t believe it, but do you see that friend of his who’s listening to him? He nods, he thinks it can be done. Because if they are together, they can prove to the world that they are the best. Born to run, even for one night only (Meeting Across the River).
You saw them just for few minutes just, you felt their eyes on you, you read their actions. They’re not heroes. They are not fearless. They have their own courage and they try to prove it in that little eternal city. In that jungle that stands in front of them and now is visible also to your eyes.
It’s the city. It’s America. It’s your town. It’s your block.
It’s your world.
So now turn off the light, and don’t go to sleep.
Throw those slippers away and run.
Beacuse, whether you know it or not, you are born to run too.
Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz
Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy
And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife, they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland