25 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs

Bruce Springsteen, or The Boss as many like to call him, is one of the most successful music artists of all time. A six-decade career that spans 21 studio albums and the pioneering of heartland rock has seen him sell over 140 million records worldwide and win countless awards.

In this article, we’ll look at his astounding career and give you 25 of the greatest songs Bruce Springsteen has ever produced.

1. Born To Run

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run (Official Video)

Born To Run was the title track of Bruce Springsteen’s first worldwide single release and served as his first attempt to break into the mainstream music world as a star. Upon release, it was met with rave reviews from critics, describing it as one of the best rock anthems and a song that could be his biggest hit yet. 

Born To Run ended up being Bruce Springsteen’s first top 40 hit on the Hot 100, peaking at number twenty-three. Rolling Stone ranked it at number 21 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included it on their 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. 

2. Thunder Road

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Thunder Road (Live In Barcelona)

Thunder Road was the opening track for Springsteen’s Born To Run album and has become one of the most popular songs in his extensive catalog. It was never released as a single, so it never got the commercial and chart recognition it deserved. Despite this, Thunder Road consistently ranks as a fan favorite and one of his best songs ever, ranking at number 111 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 

3. Badlands

Bruce Springsteen - Badlands (The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts)

What makes Bruce Springsteen’s music so popular is how relatable it is and the nostalgia it makes you feel. Badlands is about a guy who wants a better life but finds himself angry at everything and goes through a rough patch.

It served as the second single to be released from his album Darkness on the Edge of Town and tapped into a punk sound he hadn’t touched on a lot before. While it saw a ton of radio airplay, became one of his most-played songs in concert, and received rave critical reviews, Badlands wasn’t a major chart success.

It peaked at number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured across several of his Greatest Hits albums. 

4. Racing In The Street

Racing In The Street (London Calling: Live In Hyde Park, 2009)

Racing In The Street is often ranked by critics as one of Springsteen’s best songs, a ballad that dives into the joy and escape that street racing brings the narrator as he goes through life with a dead-end job.

Springsteen released an alternate version in 1978 on his album The Promise that had slightly altered lyrics and more of an uptempo arrangement. It was the last track on the front side of his Darkness on the Edge of Town album, never being released as a single and not charting in the US. It did, however, top the airplay charts in Australia.

5. Blinded By The Light

Bruce Springsteen - Blinded By The Light - The Song (From VH1 Storytellers)

Blinded By The Light is perhaps the best song from Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Just like Spirit in the Night, it almost never came to be. Springsteen wrote and recorded the song in response to a producer who didn’t think his album had songs worthy of single releases.

His version did well, but the cover version by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did better. The cover reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977 and was a top 10 hit internationally. 

6. Born In The USA

Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A. (Official Video)

Born In The USA was the title track of Bruce Springsteen’s seventh album, released in 1984, and one of his absolute staple songs. Popular among critics and fans alike, it goes over the hardships waiting for veterans of the Vietnam War once they returned home to the states, ironically perpendicular lyrics to the patriot tune of most songs at the time.

It consistently ranks among major publications’ lists of the best songs of all time, coming in at number 275 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and number 59 on the RIAA’s Songs of the Century. It broke into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 9 on that chart and reaching number 8 on the Cash Box Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock chart in 1981. 

7. The River

Bruce Springsteen - The River (The River Tour, Tempe 1980)

Another one of Bruce Springsteen’s amazing title tracks, The River, was released as part of its title album in 1979 in the US. It wound up as a big international hit, reaching the top 10 in Sweden and Norway. It wasn’t released as a single for the album in the US but was certified as a gold single by the RIAA. 

8. Spirit In The Night

Spirit In the Night (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London '75)

Spirit In The Night was the second single chosen to be released from Bruce Springsteen’s debut album. Alongside Blinded By The Light, it was purposely written by Springsteen to serve as a radio single for the album after the original tracks were found waiting in potential.

It was the earliest example of Springsteen’s ability to weave lyrics and instrumentals in a masterful style. Also, like Blinded By The LightSpirit In The Night was covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band for their album, Nightingales and Bombers. Still, it didn’t have nearly the same chart success as its twin, only reaching number 40 on the Hot 100 after a second cover version was recorded and released. 

9. Backstreets

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Backstreets (Live in New York City)

The final song on side one of Born To Run, Backstreets was released in 1975 alongside Springsteen’s full album. It begins with a minute-long instrumental section played on both the piano and organ that is emotional enough to stir something in your heart. According to Springsteen, the song is about a broken friendship and the sadness that comes with those events. Never a single, Backstreets is widely regarded as one of Springsteen’s best compositions. 

10. The Promised Land

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - The Promised Land (Live In Barcelona)

The Promised Land was the third single chosen for release from Darkness On The Edge Of Town in Europe and a major staple of Springsteen’s live performances. It’s his homage to Chuck Berry’s Promised Land song, though it seems slightly darker and more hopeless than Berry’s song. Oddly enough, the song never charted upon original release, but in 2021, it reached number three on the UK Radio Airplay chart. 

11. Darkness on the Edge of Town

Darkness On the Edge of Town (Live at The Paramount Theatre 2009)

The title track of Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 album, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, was the last song he recorded for the album. It’s the working man and the lowest social class person’s song, diving into the struggle for survival of the less fortunate.

The song is meant to inspire, as the narrator is a person who just won’t give up no matter what happens. It was never released as a single but was included on most of his live compilations and biggest-hits albums. In total, it’s Springsteen’s 12th most-played song in concert. 

12. Atlantic City

Bruce Springsteen - Atlantic City

Atlantic City was first heard on Bruce Springsteen’s solo album, Nebraska, in 1982. It’s one of the best examples of Springsteen as a musician, with him providing the song’s vocals, guitar, harmonica, and mandolin.

After going through several demos, it was decided the song would not be a rocker with a full band but an acoustic song done alone. A huge fan favorite and a concert staple, Atlantic City is one of Springsteen’s most-played songs. 

13. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle album was released in 1973 and provided Springsteen gems like Rosalita. For Springsteen and The E Street Band, it was one of their most famous concert tracks. Totaling over seven minutes in length, the song details a forbidden love between Rosalita and the narrator that’s still heard on classic rock radio stations today.

The song was certified as a gold single by the RIAA, and Rolling Stone ranked it at number 446 on their 2021 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 

14. Because The Night

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Because the Night (Live in Houston, 1978)

Because The Night is incredibly interesting because it saw Bruce Springsteen team up with Patti Smith of the Patti Smith Group for their 1978 album Easter. The original version peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and rose to number five on the UK Singles chart, but numerous artists have since covered it to varying degrees of success.

Co.Ro’s version of the song reached number one in Spain and was an international hit in several European markets in 1992. Another entry for Springsteen on a Rolling Stone list, Because The Night was placed at number 358 on their 2021 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 

15. I’m On Fire

Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire (Official Video)

I’m On Fire was the fourth single chosen for release on Spingsteen’s Born In The USA album. It was a single full of caged desire and sexual tension, eventually finding its way onto the US pop charts and making it to number six on the Hot 100 in 1985.

The album itself scored seven hit singles that reached the top 10 of that chart, with I’m On Fire being the fourth of that group. It also marked another accomplishment for Springsteen, making him the first artist to have three songs in the top 10 of the Dutch charts since The Beatles did it. 

16. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (Live in New York City)

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out was the second song on Born To Run and details the story of how The E Street Band formed. It wasn’t a massive commercial success, it just did okay, but it’s an integral song for the band and Springsteen. 

17. No Surrender

Bruce Springsteen - No Surrender (from Born In The U.S.A. Live: London 2013)

No Surrender is a huge concert staple for Bruce Springsteen despite his not wanting it to be included on the Born In The USA album. It wasn’t one of the album’s top 10 hits, but it still made it up to 29 on the Mainstream Rock chart. 

18. Glory Days

Bruce Springsteen - Glory Days (Official Video)

Glory Days, on the other hand, was one of those top ten singles. The fifth single released from Born In The USA made it to number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and was something of a universal song that just about anyone could enjoy. 

19. The Ghost Of Tom Joad

The Ghost of Tom Joad (Live Video Version featuring Tom Morello)

Tom Joad is the character from Grapes Of Wrathand his ghost is the titular character of this song. More of a fan-favorite song than a chart-topper, it still rose to number 26 on the UK singles chart. 

20. Nebraska

Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska - The Song (From VH1 Storytellers)

The title track of Springsteen’s 1982 solo album did not disappoint. It’s dark, moody, and Springsteen from a different angle than fans were used to. Overall, it perfectly set the tone for the album and helped carry the story forward.

21. Jungleland

The closing song of Born To Run, Jungleland, contains an insane saxophone solo that would make anyone proud. It’s one of Springsteen and The E Street band’s most recognizable songs and is dearly beloved to this day.

22. Prove It All Night

Prove It All Night (Phoenix, 78) (from Thrill Hill Vault 1976-1978)

Prove It All Night was the first single released from Darkness on the Edge of Town but didn’t gain nearly as much chart traction as the songs released after it. Despite this, it’s a regular piece of concert setlists and has been played in several arrangements over the years. 

23. Brilliant Disguise

Bruce Springsteen - Brilliant Disguise (Official Video)

An entry from the 1987 album Tunnel of LoveBrilliant Disguise served as the first single released and rose to number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Mainstream Rock chart. It earned a nomination at the 1988 Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance as well. 

24. Lucky Town

Bruce Springsteen - Lucky Town (MTV Plugged - Official HD Video)

Another amazing title track that shared a release date with Human Touch is Lucky Town, which failed commercially by releasing two albums simultaneously. That in no way degrades how great a song it is, though, as the album eventually went platinum

25. Hungry Heart

Bruce Springsteen - Hungry Heart (Official Audio)

The lead single of The RiverHungry Heart, is as good as it gets for Springsteen and ballads. It’s a notable entry for both its quality and place in history. By rising to number five on the Hot 100, it gave Bruce Springsteen his first major hit on that chart in 1980.

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