Auctions | November 29, 2013

Springsteen’s “Born to Run” Lyrics at Sotheby’s

On 5 December 2013 Sotheby’s will present a handwritten working manuscript of “Born to Run,” the Bruce Springsteen smash that became an essential American anthem. Written entirely in Springsteen’s hand, this early version charts the beginnings of the 1975 hit that catapulted The Boss to mega-stardom. The manuscript is estimated to fetch $70/100,000 and is on public view from 30th November.

After his first two albums Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle received critical acclaim but modest commercial success, the 26 year old Bruce Springsteen found his career hinging on the success of his next single. Ultimately, the song took six months to finalize and clocks in at four and a half minutes long. Springsteen aimed for musical perfection and Spector-level grandeur which he undoubtedly achieved. “Born to Run” was a breakout smash, and became Springsteen’s first worldwide release.

The majority of the lines in this version of the song are apparently unpublished and unrecorded but the present manuscript does include a nearly perfected chorus. Captured here, perhaps for the first time, is the most powerful of any Springsteen lyric:

“This town’ll rip the (out your) bones from your back / it’s a suicide trap (rap) (it’s a trap to catch the young) your dead unless / you get out (we got to) while your young so (come on! / with) take my hand cause tramps / like us baby we were born to run.”

Thirty eight years later “Born To Run” remains a beloved classic. In 2013, after nearly four decades of performing the career defining hit, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked “Born to Run” Springsteen's greatest song, and Springsteen him self as number 1 on their 2013 list of the “50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.”