TNP160: The Bruce Springsteen Soundtrack

51 minutes

Today, I’m going to make a few people really happy because this is the Bruce Springsteen Niche Episode that more than a handful of you have been waiting for. The episode where I explain the long-lasting appeal of Bruce Springsteen as told through select Springsteen tracks arranged in order of progressive maturity of narrative voice. The journey takes us from frustrated youth in a small town, to emergent adult getting into trouble, an adult desire for love and reconciliation with the past, deepening radicalization as the hardships of life are revealed to be so often caused by oppressive systems of class and hierarchy, and finally a swell of hope and resilience as a more mature voice of elderhood emerges. Features 15 of his 60+ albums.


I have created this playlist in Tidal but I’m going to add a list of each track and the specific album it appears on - because the specific recording matters. This is a musician who is known for tireless touring having played over 2,600 concerts since he signed with Columbia Records in 1972. But of course, he had a career before that - Bruce Springsteen has been the front man of a rock and roll band since his first gig as a 17 year old with his band called The Castiles in 1965 and he’s never had any other job since. Never had a workin man job. Not a day. But his dad did. His dad had lots of jobs, it was hard for him to keep jobs. Partially because of declining industrial jobs around New Jersey intensifying in the mid-60s, but also because Bruce’s dad struggled with alcoholism and undiagnosed depression and schizophrenia, and that became a defining feature of Bruce’s life and his music, wrestling with intergenerational demons and the mirroring of one family’s life in the larger decline of America as a country and an idea at the end of the 20th century.

Follow along with the songs with a free trial on Tidal (credit card required) or search the following recordings wherever you get your music, (possibly even YouTube).


  1. Growin’ Up, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973)
  2. Born to Run, Born To Run, (1975)
  3. Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live 1975-1985
  4. The River, The River (1980)
  5. Working on the Highway, Born In The USA (1984)
  6. Johnny 99, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live 1975-1985 (1985)
  7. Badlands, Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
  8. Dancing In The Dark, Born in the USA (1984)
  9. I’m on Fire, Born In The USA (1984)
  10. Human Touch, Human Touch (1992)
  11. Brilliant Disguise, Tunnel of Love (1987)
  12. My Hometown, Born In The USA (1984)
  13. Born In the USA, Born In The USA (1984)
  14. Bring ‘Em Home, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006)
  15. The Ghost of Tom Joad, The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995)
  16. Devils & Dust, Devils & Dust (2005)
  17. Shenandoah, We Shall Overcome (2006)
  18. Blood Brothers, Greatest Hits (1995)
  19. O Mary Don’t You Weep, We Shall Overcome (2006)
  20. Pay Me My Money Down, We Shall Overcome (2006)
  21. We Shall Overcome, We Shall Overcome (2006)
  22. This Land Is Your Land, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live 1975 - 1985 (1986)
  23. Reason To Believe, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live 1975 - 1985 (1986)
  24. Better Days, Lucky Town (1992)
  25. Hello Sunshine, Western Stars (2019)


Covers and Springsteen Songs by Other Artists

  1. Blinded By The Light, Mannfred Mann's Earth Band (1976)
  2. Because The Night, Patti Smith (1978)
  3. Because The Night, 10,000 Maniacs (1993)
  4. Because the Night, Co.Ro (1992)

Movie: Blinded By The Light, Gurinder Chadha (2019)

Netflix: Springsteen on Broadway

Album: Traveling Wilburys, Vol.1

Pete Seeger on the Johnny Cash Show: Bring Them Home (1970)

Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live at C.W.Post College, Greenvale NY (1975)

Autobiography: Born To Run (2016)

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