Bruce Springsteen – My Top Twenty Songs

Now wait a minute here you might say. Didn’t the Music Enthusiast already do a Bruce Springsteen series a while back? And isn’t that enough? Well, yes. And no. Inspired by fellow blogger (from Down Under) and Springsteen zealot Runaway American Dream, I hereby list my twenty favorite Springsteen songs.

I’ve already made YouTube links to a bunch of these songs on previous posts. So I’ll randomly pick a few different ones here:

20. “Streets of Philadelphia.” From the movie Philadelphia with Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington. A somewhat somber tune that fits the mood of the movie.

19. “If I Should Fall Behind.” From the Lucky Town album. A song I overlooked for a long time as I wasn’t following Springsteen that closely during this era. A beautiful tune. Duet with wife Patti here:

18. “4th of July, Asbury Park, (Sandy).” Perhaps Bruce’s greatest Jersey song. “And me, I just got tired of hangin’ in them dusty arcades, bangin’ them pleasure machines. Chasin’ the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where they all promise to unsnap their jeans.”

17. “Thunder Road.” A great song but frankly, I have always been into Bruce for the rock and roll passion, less for the poor disaffected outcasts and misfits in his stories. Happy to say their stories are not my story so I can only appreciate his novelistic tendencies from afar.

16. “I’m On Fire.” A cool song that tells a tale of lust in 3:30.

15. “Backstreets.” Another song about desperate lovers, loss and betrayal.

14. “Detroit Medley.” I’m cheating here because strictly speaking, not a Springsteen song but a collection of old rock tunes (CC Rider, Jenny Take a Ride, Good Golly Miss Molly, Devil With A Blue Dress) he’s strung together and performs live. The epitome of great rock n’ roll. If I had to swap in a Springsteen-written tune here, it’d be either “Fire,” or “Because the Night,” probably the former.

13. “Incident on 57th Street.” The second most romantic of Springsteen’s romanticized songs of lovers. “Jane moves over to share her pillow but opens her eyes to see Johnny up and putting his clothes on. She says, “Those romantic young boys, all they ever want to do is fight.””

12. “The Fever.” In my opinion, the coolest song in Bruce’s catalog.

11. “One Step Up.” Written and recorded during Bruce’s first marriage. About its dissolution and the desire to cheat. A haunting melody.

10. “Born to Run.” How could this not be on here? New Jersey has actually contemplated making this the state song. Really? “Baby this town rips the bones from your back. It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap. We gotta get out while we’re young.” Good luck with all that.

9. “Kitty’s Back.” Other than “Rosalita,” there is no more exuberant song in the Springsteen canon. A blast from beginning to end.

8. “Atlantic City.” When Nebraska came out, I listened but I didn’t hear. Eventually, I heard. A great, wistful song. Covered by everybody. “Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty. And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”

7. “Jungleland.” If only for The Big Man’s towering solo.

6. “Spirit in the Night.” Could have been this or “For You.” I miss the old, jazzier Springsteen.

5. “Point Blank.” From The River. Especially evocative in live versions. “I was gonna be your Romeo you were gonna be my Juliet. These days you don’t wait on Romeos you wait on that welfare check.” Again, not the cream of society.

4. “Badlands.” I always think of the Martin Sheen/Sissy Spacek movie. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

3. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” The story of the band per Bad Scooter himself. A cool, funky song. Horn arrangement by Steve Van Zandt who, though an old friend and bandmate of Bruce’s, wasn’t even really in the band at this time.

2. New York City Serenade.” THE most romantic song in Springsteen’s canon. From David Sancious’ strumming of the piano strings to the ending orchestral “strings,” just a beautiful song. Listen to your junkman. He’s singin’.

1. “Rosalita.” As I said in a previous post, I am that S.O.B standing next to you at a Springsteen concert singing this at the top of his lungs. Sorry about that. One of the greatest rock songs of all time.

Honorable mention: 

For You, The E Street Shuffle, The Promised Land, The River, Johnny 99, Cover Me, I’m Goin’ Down, Sad Eyes, Loose Change, Waitin’ on a Sunny Day, Radio Nowhere, Trapped (cover), Because the Night, Fire, Blinded by the Light.

11 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen – My Top Twenty Songs

  1. Excellent list my friend. I’ll link to it in my original post if that’s OK with you.
    I too miss jazzy Springsteen.
    Funny how it’s Badlands that makes you think about the movie when it’s actually Nebraska which took its subject from that story (I get it, though; shared title).
    I’d probably put E Street shuffle in the same ballpark as Rosie and Kitty.
    Great post!


  2. Great list!
    A few choices that would appear on my own list Point Blank for sure… though I think Detroit Medley is definitely cheating.
    I think One Step Up would be higher on mine – I love that nagging melody and the beautiful simplicity of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely cheating. But I just did not want to lose sight of it. It’s the overlooked “Springsteen song. ” Go with “Fire” then. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That being said, Springsteen has a habit of taking a cover and making it his own – especially his own – so I think it oughta stand. Off the top of my head I could probably name enough to start off a Bruce’s Best Covers list… the first (minus Tom Morello) take on High Hopes, his live re-reading of Trapped, Chimes of Freedom, Jersey Girl and War from the 75-85 set.. and that’s just those recorded / released officially mind.


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