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The Bruce Springsteen Songs That’ll Make It Feel Like the ‘Glory Days’

Take a listen to The Boss and his best tracks, from the upbeat “Born to Run” to the slow ballad, “The River”!

Jersey born and bred musician Bruce Springsteen has cranked out dozens of hits over his lengthy career. From his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., to his best-seller, Born in the U.S.A., he has hit the mark with every one of these Bruce Springsteen best songs.

Springsteen originally got his start performing in small bands as a teenager. In 1972, he transitioned to solo artist and signed a deal with Columbia Records. He and his backing band, now called The E Street Band, released their debut album in 1973, though it didn’t enjoy much in the way of success. Nonetheless, Springsteen pressed forward with album number two, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973).

Bruce Springsteen with a guitar onstage
Bruce Springsteen (1975) Fin Costello / Staff / Getty

It wasn’t until his third album, 1975’s Born to Run, that he and The E Street Band achieved major popularity. Full of hits like the title track and “Thunder Road,” the record was a smashing success, selling 6 million copies. Coming in at #21 on Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” Born to Run was a game changer for Springsteen’s career.

10 Bruce Springsteen best songs

Though it’s nearly impossible to rank his near 400 tunes, dive into this list of Bruce Springsteen best songs.

10. “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”

One of the hits from his second album, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” explores a forbidden love between a young man and a girl with controlling parents. Though the album wasn’t originally a success, this tune was a big hit at Springsteen’s concerts. Rolling Stone even placed the hit at #11 on its list of the 100 Best Bruce Springsteen songs.

The song is actually based on a true story. According to Rolling Stone, Springsteen said, “The stuff I write is the stuff I live with…They’re all true.” He explained that even the names he referenced in the song were all real people.

9. “Glory Days”: Bruce Springsteen Best Songs

Another song based on his real-life experiences, Springsteen knocked it out of the park with this classic. He sings about a chance encounter with an old friend from school, where they reminisced about their “Glory Days.”

The track hit #5 at its peak position on the US Billboard Hot 100 and spent 18 weeks on the chart. As one of the seven hits off the album Born in the U.S.A. (1984), “Glory Days” is certainly a memorable tune. Another version of the song contains an extra verse, where Springsteen talks about a father.

8. “Hungry Heart”

This upbeat tune, “Hungry Heart,” was never intended to be sung by Springsteen. In fact, he recalled that he originally wrote it for The Ramones after he saw them in concert, but was convinced to keep the song for himself. Lucky for him, too, as it became his first top 10 hit.

The song’s sunny melody is due in part to the decision to speed up the track — which is also why Springsteen’s voice sounds a bit higher than usual. It ended up at #5 on the charts and was a major hit for the singer.

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7. “Dancing in the Dark”: Bruce Springsteen Best Songs

This iconic track was and remains one of the Bruce Springsteen best songs and his most successful single. The song landed at #2 on the charts and was the reason he won his first ever Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

A fun fact about the music video: Pre-Friends star Courteney Cox made a cameo as a fan dancing on stage with The Boss. Cox recalled to Howard Stern on his radio show, “I get a little embarrassed because… Did you see my dance? It was pathetic. I’m not a bad dancer, but that was horrible. I was so nervous.”

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Bruce Springsteen with a guitar onstage
Bruce Springsteen (1984) Ebet Roberts / Contributor / Getty

Springsteen explained that he wrote the song as a single for Born in the U.S.A. when producer Jon Landau thought the album was missing something. He wrote “Dancing in the Dark,” which “went as far in the direction of pop music as I wanted to go — and probably a little farther.”

6. “The River”

Another song inspired by life, “The River” follows the life of Springsteen’s little sister, Ginny. The ballad explores the working-class life of struggling young parents, which he pulled from his sister’s experience of becoming pregnant at 18 and getting married, but struggling along the way.

“The River” hit #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, remaining at that spot for four weeks. Despite how well received the song was by the public, his sister felt differently. Ginny later told Springsteen’s biographer, “Every bit of it was true, and here I am, completely exposed. I didn’t like it at first — but now it’s my favorite song.”

5. “Prove It All Night”: Bruce Springsteen Best Songs

Released as the first single from 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, this hit went through several revisions. Despite the fact it was felt the song didn’t have enough lyrics, it still shot up to #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #16 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Springsteen songs.

He actually credited a cab driver he rode with for the song’s inspiration. He was talking about how “all your life you gotta prove something to somebody,” which Springsteen shared with a concert crowd. The Boss has explained that this song implies you need to work for your hopes and dreams, a theme he sings about in his next album, Born to Run.

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4. “Born in the U.S.A.”

This hit, which soared to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard 200, is the title track of the 1984 album. The song was originally recorded acoustically, but was quickly revamped into its current form. Springsteen himself regards “Born in the U.S.A.” as one of his best tracks.

The Boss shared that he never taught the song to his band and that the tune just kind of “happened.” He explained that they played it together twice and the second take is the one that appears on the album. This off the cuff hit is easily one of Springsteen’s most well-known tunes.

3. “Thunder Road”: Bruce Springsteen Best Songs

Though he had intended the title track to start off the Born to Run album, Springsteen ultimately decided on “Thunder Road” for the opener. Thanks to its scene-setting intro, the song was the perfect choice to lead things off.

Springsteen wrote this song on his living room piano, hence its reason for being so piano-driven. But, it should be noted, his keyboardist, Roy Bittan, created the portions of the song that are now synonymous with The E Street Band. Springsteen said, “Roy’s attack and formulations of what I showed him really created a very, very unique sound.” The compilation of the Springsteen’s piano work and Bittan’s additions created a masterpiece and pushed “Thunder Road” into becoming the disc opener.

2. “Badlands”

The singer has shared that he chose the title of this song before it was even written. Springsteen explained that “Badlands” was a great title for a song, but he was worried about not doing it justice. But in classic Bruce Springsteen fashion, he wrote and rewrote the lyrics until it was worthy of the genius name. Luckily for him, his hard work paid off and the song peaked at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Badlands” kicked off his 4th album, Darkness on the Edge of Town. The energetic song became the show opener for many of Springsteen’s concerts, despite the struggles and pain he sings about. The artist writes about the difficulties of everyday life and how to overcome it. But even with its deep storyline, the track’s upbeat music turned it into a hit.

1. “Born to Run”: Bruce Springsteen Best Songs

And at #1 on our list of Bruce Springsteen best songs is “Born to Run,” the title track of the 1975 album is almost always regarded as his greatest achievement. Though it had only placed #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the Billboard 200, this hit was responsible for his rise to fame. Springsteen said, “I wanted to make the greatest rock record that I’d ever heard. I wanted it to sound enormous, to grab you by your throat and insist that you take that ride.”

“Born to Run” is infused with such passion and excitement, both of which Springsteen still has while singing it onstage today. He knew when writing it that the song needed to draw in an audience, especially if he was going to keep his record deal.

Bruce Springsteen smiling onstage
Bruce Springsteen (1975) Richard E. Aaron / Contributor / Getty

Though his initial albums were being well received by the critics, they weren’t selling in sufficient numbers, thus the need for “Born to Run” to be a massive success — which it was. This song that explores the fear and exhilaration of the future is one of the Bruce Springsteen best songs.

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