Fire and Water Records: Bruce Springsteen

We got one last chance to make it real / to trade in these wings on some wheels / climb in back / Heaven's waiting down on the tracks.

On this extra special Boss-sized episode of Fire and Water Records, the Daly Brothers celebrate the 45th anniversary of BORN TO RUN, the landmark album that changed rock and roll and launched Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band into the musical stratosphere. Join Ryan and Neil as they discuss twenty of their favorite Springsteen songs from his entire catalogue. From the Exxon stations of New Jersey to the blood-soaked highways of Nebraska, the time is right for racing in the street, so jump in the car with Rosalita, drive all night down Thunder Road, and find that promised land at the end of the Tunnel of Love.

Listen to the FWR Bruce Springsteen playlist on Spotify.

Track list

  1. "Thunder Road” from BORN TO RUN
  2. “Badlands” from DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
  3. “Jungleland” from BORN TO RUN
  4. “Growin Up” from GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J.
  5. “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” from THE WILD, THE INNOCENT AND THE E STREET SHUFFLE
  6. “Tunnel of Love” from TUNNEL OF LOVE
  7. “Night” from BORN TO RUN
  8. “Nebraska” from NEBRASKA
  9. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” from BORN TO RUN
  10. “Stolen Car” from THE RIVER
  11. “American Skin (41 Shots)” from LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY
  12. “Racing in the Street” from DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
  13. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (featuring Tom Morello) from HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MAGIC TOUR
  14. “The Promised Land” from DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
  15. “I’m On Fire” from BORN IN THE U.S.A.
  16. “Out in the Street” from THE RIVER
  17. “Drive All Night” from THE RIVER
  18. “The Promise” from TRACKS
  19. “Darkness On the Edge of Town” from DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
  20. “No Surrender” from BORN IN THE U.S.A.

Additional songs: “Born in the U.S.A.” from LIVE / 1975-1985, “Youngstown” from THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD, “Born to Run” from BORN TO RUN, “Glory Days” from BORN IN THE U.S.A., and “Born to Run” from LIVE / 1975-1985.

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7 responses to “Fire and Water Records: Bruce Springsteen

  1. About halfway through and to answer a question … Yes, there are two versions of “Brothers Under The Bridge” and both are on the “Tracks” boxed set. The first one, from 1983, sounds like “No Surrender.” The other is from that “Secret Garden” era. “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart” is also on that boxed set, which I received for my birthday from a girl I was dating at the time. She also bought me tickets to see him at FedEx Field in 2003 about a month before we got married.

  2. I was introduced to Bruce Springsteen through the enormous success and high visibility of Born in the U.S.A. in 1984. He was the grungy guy in the denim jacket with the bandana that looked like a caricature of patriotism to me, and I didn’t like his growling vocals. It was just part of that rah-rah macho ‘Merca bullshit to me, alongside Rocky and Rambo. He seemed to do all the big charity concerts, at least. “Glory Days” was another one that got integrated into the typical country songlists at festivals and rodeos where I grew up, but I wasn’t into pop music yet, so that was about as deep as I got.

    Tunnel of Love was the much-heralded follow-up in 1987, which was precisely the year that I began to reject my upbringing and listen almost exclusively to modern popular radio hits. By then, Springsteen was pushing forty, with a look and sound that screamed “old man” to me. “Brilliant Disguise” got some airplay, but just sounded like a soggy adult contemporary riff on Roy Orbison to me. However, the album’s release prompted re-visitation of his earlier work by disc jockeys, which exposed me to “Dancing in the Dark” and “I’m on Fire.” I liked both, so that was a start, and when I saw the video of the former my frame of Courtney Cox reference was Misfits of Science.

    In 1992, “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” made a small blip, probably running as the closing credits song on Entertainment Tonight or something. As Ryan noted, he became that soundtrack single guy to me between “Streets of Philadelphia”, “Secret Garden”, “Dead Man Walkin'”, and even “The Wrestler”. I liked his cameo in High Fidelity. I’ve heard the bigger hits from the ’70s. I’ve had a few albums come my way and listened to some of them. Our politics are pretty well aligned.

    After all these decades of being “The Boss” and receiving acclaim and attempted explorations of his catalog, my final summation is *shrug.* I really love everything about “I’m on Fire.” That’s a great song. I respect the body of work. On a personal level, it just isn’t to my taste. Three hour plus concerts sound like a hostage situation. Not to get racial, but he’s too white guy and Middle America. I can relate to the South, but that rust belt Americana just ain’t my scene.

    I watched The Dream Team too many times when it was on cable, and I cannot tell you why.

    Thanks for the One Song Each plug!

  3. Great show, Daly Brothers. I’m a casual Bruce fan, but I have to admit, my first exposure to him was similar to what Ryan mentioned. A muscled average joe type of a guy dancing with a cute unknown later to be known as Courtney Cox. Most of the guys on MTV were emo sticks that a stiff breeze would blow over. This guy seemed…real. A few years later I started listening to “classic” rock stations, and I got to hear his older stuff, like “Thunder Road”, “Born to Run”, “The River”, etc. A bit different than even “Born in the USA”, which did confuse me with its anthem-like bravado, but downbeat lyrics, and Bruce in the video dressed like a stereotypical Vietnam vet you’d see on TV.

    Like I said on the FB comments, I really liked “I’m On Fire”, even when I was too young to get it. The video kind of told the story pretty well, though. I do kind of like to try and sing along with it without opening my mouth, because that seemed what Bruce was doing. Ahead of grunge in that regard too. I have always wondered, where does Bruce’s “Southern Twang” come from? You hear it in “Glory Days” and other songs here and there. I’m not begrudging it, I’ve always been a bit puzzled by it.

    Anyway, I’m rambling, but you guys put a lot of thoughts about the man and his music in my head. One of your best episodes yet.


  4. Excellent episode, gentlemen! It was great to hear such an in depth and personal recollection of your favourite Boss songs. And yes, I DO remember when people used to say, “That’s boss!”. I think it was around the same era people were wearing Keep On Truckin’ t-shirts. That seems so long ago now…….

    I’m with Frank that when I was first introduced to Bruce, it seemed too much of the ‘Merica attitude (and as a Canadian kid) that did not appeal to me in the slightest. I don’t know how you guys like to listen to music (and I would like to know!), but when I listen, the first thing that usually grabs me is the chords and the tone (whether it’s a bunch of distortion or robot voice or whatever). Then I generally listen to the melody and harmony. Usually the last thing that I pay attention to is the lyrics and that’s why I’ve never been into Bruce Springsteen. I find his songs are too boring chord- and harmony-wise for me that I never get into his brilliant lyrics. He is someone that I’ve definitely appreciated and admired later on in life, but I still just can’t get into his music. Having said all that, listening to this episode, it makes me want to check out his stuff more than I ever have in the past, so thank you for that!

    Thanks again for such a well done episode. Keep up the great work!

  5. The Daly Brothers discuss an musician whose works I know! I can participate in this discussion! My connection with Bruce has to do with girls in my past. I was hardly aware of his music until high school. “Hungry Heart” had got airplay, but it didn’t knock me out. My girlfriend in 12th grade was a huge Bruce fan, so any time after I heard him after that I would think of her, fondly. So, Springsteen became a associated with happy memories. In the summer of ’84 I had an internship with a summer theater. I remember having a conversation with the artistic director who came from NJ. I asked him what it was like. He responded, “Have you listened to any Bruce Springsteen records? It was exactly like that.” I hadn’t, but I had spent some time at the beaches of northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and later on I was able to see the parallels. While we were constructing a set, someone put “Born To Run” in the boombox. I was grabbed right away with “The screen door slams…” So, not only was I thinking fondly of a past love, I was impressed by the evocative lyrics.
    Back at college, I listened to my roommate’s copy of “The River” several times.
    After graduation, I was cast in a show. One night after rehearsal the assistant stage manager drove me in her truck from the rehearsal hall to the parking lot where my car was. We had a delightful intimate time in the cab of her truck while the entirety of “Born To Run” played in her tape deck. More fond associations with that record!
    I was working then for a store that had one of the best record departments in Greater Boston, so I was able to pick up “Greetings From Asbury Park” (on tape and LP), “The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle” and “Live 1975-1985” when that was released. The music director of the aforementioned show (the one with the alluring assistant stage manager) gave me a music book of Springsteen’s when I expressed my new interest in his music. “Bruce Springsteen Anthology” has 16 songs culled form his first three albums. In fact, listening to this podcast spurred me to get it off the shelf, ans I was playing along with the closing song!
    Seven or so years later, I was in graduate school in South Carolina. Among the subjects I pursued was Irish literature, which led to my reading Ulysses. I was then enamored of another young lady. At her request, I drove to her school to see a show she was involved with. It was a long drive across much of North Carolina. And a long drive back the same night. (My story is not as cool as Ryan’s road trip tale!) I had previously determined the “The Wild, The Innocent etc.” was good driving music. I could play “Kitty’s Back,” singing along loudly and joyously at the end, then flip the tape and easily queue up “Rosalita.” Again I would sing along loudly and joyously at the end, then flip the tape again for “Kitty’s Back.”
    This is where “The River” comes in. I believe it was this same drive. My head was full up with literary analysis, musical analysis, tantalizing romance, and a need to stave of sleep. As I listened to “The River,” I started to try and make a narrative out of the whole thing. I listened to which instruments had solos in which songs and pondered if there could be significance in them. I listened to the interplay between the guitars, and the balance between piano and organ. Well, not only did I make it home awake, I had started something that is not yet finished. I’ve got an outline for a stage production of “The River.” Let’s have a drink sometime, and I’ll tell it to you.
    Lastly, I want to chastise you both for not mentioning three important members of The E Street Band. Danny Federici, keyboards, Gary Tallent, bass, and Roy Bittan, piano. Just listen to “Drive All Night” and how slowly and soulfully Tallent plays. That’s hard to maintain over such a long song. But the real hero of the E Street sound is (was) Bittan. Not only the great sound of the real piano, but his playing what I expect were his arrangements. Think of the piano intro and outro to “Jungleland.” Maybe Bruce said to play both hands above middle C, and then echo the eighth note figures with sixteenth note figures at the end, but I doubt it. I think it was all the pianist. Likewise the flatted second in the beautiful run between “..refusal, and then surrender” and “In the tunnels uptown…” And all of “Meeting Across the River.”
    Because I didn’t hear that piano sound on the frequently played single “Born In the USA,” I didn’t care much for it, although there are several track on the album I like, but I REALLY liked that E Street Band sound. and consequently have not given the remainder of the Springsteen catalog similar scrutiny. Also, listening to this show made me wonder why I don’t hold “Darkness On the Edge of Town” as highly as the others, and I realized that I didn’t have it on tape! It got short shrift in my listening!

    1. Those are great memories and stories, Terry.

      My only defense is, I’m sure Neil mentioned Roy Bittan at least once during the show.

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