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Books & Manuscripts

The Hit Song that Took Bruce Springsteen 6 Months to Write

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MUSIC LEGEND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN PENNED THE NOW CLASSIC LYRICS TO 'BORN TO RUN' AT THE AGE OF TWENTY-SIX.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CLAYTON CALL / GETTY IMAGES CONTRIBUTOR.

Music legend Bruce Springsteen’s handwritten working manuscript for 'Born To Run' will highlight Sotheby’s Fine Book and Manuscripts online sale (18–28 June). Below learn the story behind the American rock classic. 

In 1975 airwaves across America filled with the sounds of a new anthem – 'Born to Run' – a lyrically driven and musically propulsive song written and performed by a 26-year-old Bruce Springsteen. Capturing the impassioned spirit and bravado of youth, the song skyrocketed the New Jersey-born singer to super-stardom. His first worldwide release, it was an instant classic and cemented the singer's musical reputation as 'The Boss.'

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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S HANDWRITTEN LYRICS TO 'BORN TO RUN' (1974).
ESTIMATE $200,000–300,000 IN FINE BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS INCLUDING AMERICANA  (18–28 JUNE, ONLINE).

The now-iconic song emerged from a period of deep artistic struggle, however. After his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973) and its follow-up The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973) received critical acclaim but modest commercial success, the singer found his career hinging on the success of his next single. Springsteen spent six months writing and finalizing the four-and-a-half-minute song, which would go on to become the most important of his career. 

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THE NEARLY PERFECTED CHORUS 'BORN TO RUN' IS CAPTURED PERHAPS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THESE HANDWRITTEN LYRICS . ESTIMATE $200,000–300,000 IN FINE BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS INCLUDING AMERICANA  (18–28 JUNE, ONLINE).

Springsteen's perfectionism as well as his ongoing creative process are evidenced in this handwritten working manuscript – edits and comments abound throughout. In fact, the majority of the lines in this version of the song are unpublished and unrecorded, however the present manuscript captures, perhaps for the first time, the nearly complete chorus and the most powerful lyric of the musician's career: 

“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 [sic] dead unless / you get out (we got to) while your [sic] young so (come on! / with) take my hand cause tramps / like us baby we were born to run."

Over time, the song's legacy has grown to legendary proportions. In 2013, Rolling Stone ranked the song as Springsteen’s greatest while The Boss himself adopted 'Born to Run' as the title of his 2016 autobiography and featured it as the finale to the current theater sensation Springsteen on Broadway

To make an appointment to view these one-of-a-kind lyrics, please contact Richard Austin

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