Bruce Springsteen is both one of the most popular and one of the most misunderstood rock stars, as his accessible melodies and working-class, everyman image has been embraced by classic rock radio and blue-collar karaoke singers who frequently misunderstand Springsteen’s political messages and overlook his poetic lyrics. Springsteen is patriotic, but that doesn’t make him blind to America’s faults.
He is an energetic performer with a knack for catchy melodies, but also a songwriter dedicated to his craft. He is a talented musician but never fails to give credit to the legendary E Street Band that has backed him up for many years; he recently inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his induction speech, per Rolling Stone, Springsteen referred to his relationship with the E Street Band as “the rare, rock and roll hybrid of solo artistry and a true rock and roll band.” In honor of that induction and the 20th anniversary of perhaps Springsteen’s most famous album, Born in the U.S.A., here’s a look at 10 of the Boss’s best songs.
1. “Darkness on the Edge of Town”
The title track from the 1978 album of the same name explores the difficulties faced by the working class, a constant theme in Springsteen’s music. In this song, the narrator is forced to live “in the darkness on the edge of town,” while his ex-wife has faked her way into a more posh neighborhood. “Some folks are born into a good life / Other folks get it anyway, anyhow / I lost my money and I lost my wife / Them things don’t seem to matter much to me now,” Springsteen sings. Steve Van Zandt told Rolling Stone that this song represents a shift in Springsteen’s storytelling from earlier albums: “The song just sums up that record very accurately, in terms of ‘the stories now, we’re gonna not necessarily have a happy ending.’”