When the future of Rock and roll became his present

By Sergio Ariza

After two notable albums with great reviews but few sales, Bruce Springsteen found himself at a crossroads. His record company was thinking of rescinding his contract but then an article appeared in which someone wrote prophetically: "I've seen the future of rock and roll and his name is Bruce Springsteen." It was the critic Jon Landau, whom Springsteen would end up hiring as the producer of his third album. Thanks to Landau Columbia gave Springsteen a new opportunity and this time he did not let it get away.    

His expectations were enormous, not for nothing did he say that he wanted to sound like "Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan lyrics produced by Phil Spector", but this time he had the songs to match such comparisons, Born To Run, Thunder Road, Jungleland, Backstreets, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out ... Monuments that he knew how to decorate with the arrangements, production and interpretation they required, although for that he had to push himself to his limits and bring all those present in the recording, musicians, producers and engineers to the verge of a nervous breakdown. The icing came with the two protagonists that accompany him on the cover, the great saxophonist Clarence Clemons and his faithful Telecaster / Esquire, a guitar he learned to make talk during the recording of this album.

Springsteen met his lifelong companion while recording his debut album, Greetings from Ashbury Park. Feeling that his music was drifting towards a place with much more soul, an unusual cross between James Brown and Bob Dylan, he decided that his Les Paul was no longer suitable for it, so following the example of some of his favorite guitarists like Steve Cropper, James Burton and Jeff Beck, the man from New Jersey decided on a Telecaster. Of course his was going to be a very special model, composed of parts of several guitars, with the body of a Telecaster and the neck of an Esquire 1952. It cost him $ 185; today it is valued at close to five million. Possibly there is not an electric guitar and an artist as close to each other as these two.

Without being an especially technical guitarist, Springsteen is pure fire and passion, knowing how to round off a song as you can see on the solos of Backstreets and Jungleland, although Clemons is the greatest soloist of the band. But Springsteen brings dynamite as a rhythm guitarist, as you can see on the 11 tracks he recorded for Born To Run (some of them with a Fender Bassman '59), demonstrating a manic perfectionism when it comes to recording. As if he were a conductor Springsteen was directing note by note each performance of his band. An E Street Band that recorded the title track with Ernest 'Boom' Carter on drums and David Sancious on keyboards, and on which they spent six months(!) recording. After they left they were replaced on the rest of the album by the iconic Max Weinberg, on drums, and Roy Bittan, on keyboard, who also had to endure the marathon recording sessions, until Springsteen came up with the right arrangement. Bittan was another of the key pieces, as Springsteen did not compose the songs of the album on his Telecaster but on the piano, all of them with introductions that Bittan took a step further, providing a theatrical or cinematic aspect for those mini-epics with which Springsteen achieved glory.


So at the crossroads of his life Springsteen responded by stepping on the accelerator and not looking back in the rear-view mirror even once. With Born To Run he delivered the RECORD with capital letters on which the rest of his incredible career was built.