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At number 14 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters is Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen is one of my favourite songwriters, I would rank him in my personal top 10. I first came across Springsteen in the late 1970s, when I became aware of his 1975 song “Born to Run”, and bought the album Born to Run on the strength of liking this song.

Springsteen was born in 1949 and grew up in a working class home in New Jersey. His father was mainly unemployed, and this poor upbringing coloured much of his music throughout his career; many of his songs deal with despair and desperation. Springsteen’s first album was the 1973 Greetings From Asbury Park N.J. (Asbury Park is a city in New Jersey and located on the Jersey shore. It is part of the New York City metropolitan area).

The first track on this debut album, “Blinded by the Light”, was released as a single, but failed to make any impact on the charts. It was later covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, who had a number 1 hit with  it in 1977. I remember this song in 1977, but at the time I had no idea that it was written by Bruce Springsteen; I had no idea who Springsteen was until about 1979.

 

At number 14 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Bruce Springsteen.

At number 14 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen’s breakthrough album was his third, Born to Run, which was released in 1975. This album opens with the incredibly energetic song “Born to Run”, one of the great rock anthems of all-time. This song was released as a single in August 1975 and was Springsteen’s first single to be released worldwide. Its chart success was modest, but it has since gone on to be considered one of the greatest songs of all time, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it at 21 in their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, I blogged about it here.

After Born to Run, Springsteen went on to have a string of hit albums and singles, including “Hungry Heart”, “The River” (which I blogged about here), “Dancing in the Dark” (one of his biggest hits), “Born in the U.S.A” (one of his best known songs) and “Streets of Philadelphia”.

The song which I have decided to share today is his 1994 hit “Streets of Philadelphia”. This poignant song was written for the movie Philadelphia, a movie starring Tom Hanks, who won an Oscar for his performance of a lawyer who contracts HIV and is fired from his job. It illustrates beautifully Springsteen’s songwriting skills, both with its wonderful lyrics but also its haunting melody.

I was bruised and battered, I couldn’t tell what I felt.
I was unrecognizable to myself.
Saw my reflection in a window and didn’t know my own face.
Oh brother are you gonna leave me wastin’ away
On the streets of Philadelphia.

I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone,
I heard the voices of friends, vanished and gone,
At night I could hear the blood in my veins,
It was just as black and whispering as the rain,
On the streets of Philadelphia.

Ain’t no angel gonna greet me.
It’s just you and I my friend.
And my clothes don’t fit me no more,
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip this skin.

Night has fallen, I’m lyin’ awake,
I can feel myself fading away,
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss,
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of Philadelphia.

Here is the official vide of this wonderful song. Enjoy!

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