Bruce Springsteen’s 40 greatest songs

An all-star cast pick The Boss' best moments…

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23 Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Title track of 1978 album

STEVE WYNN: Vengeful, wounded and proud, and that may have mirrored a lot of the feelings that he experienced during a three-year hiatus because of legal hassles. Who knows? But I surely would not want to have been on the receiving end of a sullen rant like this song.
DAN BERN: It’s that dark, bleak side of his thing that balances the big rock anthems so great.
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22 Adam Raised A Cain
Darkness On The Edge Of Town album track, 1978

GEORGE P PELECANOS: “Daddy worked his whole life, for nothing but the pain/Now he walks these empty rooms, looking for someone to blame/You inherit the sins, you inherit the flames/Adam raised a Cain…” Springsteen gets biblical on one of the fiercest tracks he ever recorded, pushing the band to an almost gospel-like fervour. John Sayles used the song in Baby, It’s You. I used it for a pivotal scene in Soul Circus. There is something dangerous about this one that sets it apart from everything else in the Springsteen canon. The imagery is frightening and spot on. Play this for anyone who thinks Bruce is too middle of the road. An act of rock’n’roll violence. “Lost but not forgotten in the dark heart of a dream/ Adam raised a Cain.”
STEVE WYNN: Okay, he’s a great songwriter, a larger-than-life performer and an underrated guitarist, but man, the vocal on this song is amazing and absolutely terrifying. From a whisper to a scream and back again. The sound of high-grade sandpaper scratching against the back of the throat, just as painful and just as hard to ignore.
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21 Because The Night
Patti Smith single, 1978

HOLLY JOHNSON: I think I prefer this to any other Springsteen song. Patti Smith’s version is absolutely great. It’s more of a pop song, more of a single, with a catchy chorus, whereas, say, “Born To Run” is more of an anthem. There are aspects of Bruce which make me shudder – the whole band camaraderie thing, the playing for four hours, the whole American redneck dream. The huge appeal he has to Middle America. But this one flies.
ADAM SWEETING: Jolly decent of Bruce to let co-writer Patti Smith record this first (her 1978 hit version gave Springsteen his first name-check in the Top 20 singles chart). Springsteen later included a somewhat blustersome rendition on the Live 1975-85 set, but Smith makes far more sense of the passionate obsession at the heart of the lyric. It’s a salutary reminder of Bruce’s track record as a jobbing hit-provider, which includes “Fire” for The Pointer Sisters, “The Fever” for Southside Johnny and “Pink Cadillac” for Natalie Cole.
RODDY WOOMBLE: When I first started listening to Springsteen about five years ago, this is one of the songs I immediately fell in love with. It was made famous by Patti Smith who stayed up all night writing the lyrics, but The Boss wrote the music and I think the version on the Live 1975-85 box set is amazing.

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