On this Day: Bruce Springsteen Made Covers of Time & Newsweek

Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run saved The Boss's career.

After putting out a pair of delightful albums in 1973, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle; which featured great songs like "Blinded By The Light," "For You," "Spirit In The Night," and "Growin' Up" on the debut, and "Rosalita" on the follow-up, mediocre sales worried Columbia Records.

Most bands today are not given three records to prove themselves, but Columbia, now under new management, gave Springsteen and his E Street Band enough money to record one more single. The New Jersey native took it, and spent six months recording the epic title track for Born To Run.

During the Born in the USA tour, the official "Born to Run" video was created.

Instantly the new suits were disciples and gave Springsteen a big enough budget to make the album around it. The pressure was so much for the 24-year-old that after 14 months of making the album, he was so disgusted with the results he walked out of his motel room in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, and threw the finished recordings into the unsuspecting swimming pool.

Fortunately the masters were still in the hands of critic/fan/and co-producer Jon Landau who convinced the perfectionist singer/songwriter that the acetates he was given were of inferior quality and the rock that would end up on vinyl would, indeed, rock.

When Stephen Colbert put Bruce on the spot to ask him his five favorite Bruce songs, three from Born to Run came to mind: the title track, 'Thunder Road' and 'Jungleland.'

Defeated, the Boss acquiesced and a month later one of the greatest records of all time was released to the masses.

It debuted in mid-September at a disappointing #84 on the chart, but then the quarter-million dollar Columbia marketing budget kicked into gear and the buying public wrapped their legs around the album's velvet rims and strapped their hands across its engines.

Then it was #8 and then #4.

Anyone order a 19 minute version of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"?

Bruce, Clarence Clemons, Max Weinberg, Miami Steve Van Zant and the rest of the crew had a bonafide hit album fueled by sprawling, creative, uplifting anthems from the title track to "Thunder Road," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and "She's The One."

Back in the day such a story was written about in newspapers and magazines. And at the time there was no more important cover to grace ones face than either Time or Newsweek. Sure being on the cover of the Rolling Stone was great, but Jann Wenner wasn't putting scruffy upstarts from Jersey City on the cover - in '75 RS had the Eagles, Muhammad Ali, and the Eagles on the cover. Ten bucks says Jann couldn't even spell Springsteen properly back then.

Time and Newsweek was a different story. They loved trends. They loved telling their subscribers and those at the newstands what was new and fresh and there wasn't a better tale to tell than this record with the black and white cover.

They were also extremely competitive, so when Jay Cocks of Time learned that Newsweek's Maureen Orth was granted an interview with the Boss, Cocks persuaded his editors they too needed a sit-down and a cover story.

Both newsweeklies were very prickly about being considered copycats of each other, and even though they both had the bearded beatnik on display, you can't judge a magazine by its cover.

Cocks was all in on the Boss, but Orth was less sure, giving credit to the Columbia marketing machine.

“Hypes are as American as Coca-Cola so perhaps -- in one way or another -- Bruce Springsteen ‘is’ the Real Thing," Orth quipped dismissively.

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Springsteen doing "Jungleland" in 2023 in NYC

Springsteen would go on to sell over 65 million albums, be known for his inspiring marathon concerts, and has won every imaginable award including an Oscar and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In every way Bruce Springsteen is the real thing, and you can see it for yourself as he brings his World Tour back in March. Get your tickets on his website, but do it quickly: the alleged hype has made Springsteen seats a rare commodity.

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Last updated: 24 Feb 2024, 18:35 Etc/UTC