Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road (Hammersmith Odeon, London '75)

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Thunder Road (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London '75)

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performing "Thunder Road" from Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London '75

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"Thunder Road" is a song written and performed by Bruce Springsteen, and is the opening track on his 1975 breakthrough album Born to Run. It is ranked as one of Springsteen's greatest songs, and often appears on lists of the top rock songs of all time. Rolling Stone magazine placed it as No. 86 on its "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Started out as a 1972 song called "Angelina", then after further development, Springsteen did a solo recording in October 1974 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, New York, of "Chrissie's Song", including the line, "leave what you've lost, leave what's grown cold, Thunder Road". Sometime between November 1974 and January 1975, Springsteen took "Chrissie's Song" and lyrics from another composition, "Walking in the Street", and combined them into a song he now called "Wings for Wheels", which he recorded in February. He took the line, "they case the promised land" and verse, "Oh baby I can't lay the stars at your feet, but I think we could take it all, just you and me, Oh come on and see there's a lot of room, For you baby in this front seat" from "Walking in the Street". On February 5, 1975 at the Main Point, Bryn Mawr, Pensylvania, with the featured girl now called "Angelina", Philadelphia Disk Jockey Ed Sciaky introduced the radio broadcast that included "Born to Run", "She's the One", "Jungleland", and "Wings for Wheels". A memorable moment, not preserved for album No. 3, was Suki Lahav's violin behind Bruce: "Now the season's over and I feel it getting cold, Well, I wish I could take you to some sandy beach, where we'd never grow old, ah, but baby, you know that's just jive, tonight's bustin' open and I'm alive, Oh, do what you can do to make me feel like a man". But "Wings" had a horrible jazzy ending, and sometime after March 9, 1975 (the last time "Wings" appeared on a set list), Bruce took the music (the main coda) he had written for "Walking In the Street", and patched it on to the end of "Wings for Wheels"; now his new lyric "this is a town for losers, I'm pulling out of here to win" was followed by the new instrumental outro, or the "instrumental coda", or "Walking in the Street". "The night's bustin' open, these two lanes will take us anywhere", and a poster for a 1958 Robert Mitchum film in a movie Theater lobby. They provided the final ingredients for his new song, "Thunder Road". The exact story behind moving "Walking in the Street" to "Wings for Wheels" is not known, but magic suddenly came to "Thunder Road". According to the 2005 documentary, Wings for Wheels the Making of Born to Run, Landau says he helped restructure some songs. Springsteen claims to have lost the completed tape of "Walking in the Street", recorded May 28, 1975, which is also why it could not go on "Tracks".

"There were two outtakes from Born to Run: 'Linda Let Me Be the One' is one track, and there was another one called 'Walking in the Street' which I would have liked to have put on, but I couldn't find the master. We searched and searched. It might have been simply recorded over, because in those days, if something wasn't going to make it, you're going to need that tape so you recorded something else over the top." - B. Springsteen, MOJO Magazine interview 1999.

April 13, 1975 was the day Jon Landau officially joined the third album's production team. Louis Lahav, chief engineer, and his wife Suki, the violin player, quit and returned to their native Israel at the end of February (this is often misreported as months later, which is incorrect, and the story that she and Bruce were in love, and that the Lahavs left to save their marriage, has nothing to do with "Thunder Road"). Jimmy Iovine reported to work at the Record Plant on April 18, after Landau was instructed to find better accommodations.

During Springsteen's writing of the lyrics to "Thunder Road", instead of "skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets", he had written, "skeletons found by exhumed shallow graves". Max Weinberg convinced Springsteen to move away from the darker lyrics and stay consistent with the blue collar spirit of the album.
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