Our Top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs list attempts to do the impossible in picking a top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs of all time list. This is a top 10 list we have avoided in putting together since we started this site over ten years ago. Our approach has always been to present a list of the top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs by the decade. So, in the past, we have done our top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs of the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and the 2000s. Even putting together those lists was quite a difficult task. Bruce Springsteen is a musical artist who has continuously grown tremendously in between albums, and he consistently released groundbreaking and incredible music for almost 50 years now.
There was a vast difference between Springsteen’s first three albums and even his fourth. The artist on Darkness On The Edge Of Town did not sound like the same artist who had released Born To Run three years earlier. The same goes for the differences between Born To Run, The Wild Innocent & E Street Shuffle, and Greetings From Asbury Park. Yet, in concert, all the songs from his first four albums blended perfectly together as we all saw who Bruce Springsteen really was on the 78 tour.
Bruce Springsteen’s The River album was a two-record set that featured Bruce the performer in the studio while also delivering some new classic Bruce Springsteen songs. Nebraska was a critic’s favorite and a brave step for Bruce Springsteen. It also set up the solo Bruce Springsteen career that Bruce would embark on many years later with his Ghost Of Tom Joad and Devils And Dust albums. That all culminated with his Springsteen on Broadway shows.
Between 1980 and 2021, a mix of great Bruce Springsteen albums was released, along with some lesser ones. We love them all, but we have enjoyed some more than others. Born In The U.S.A. turned on millions of new fans to the sound of Bruce Springsteen while many of his older fans frowned on that album. Yet there’s no denying the record’s impact on pop culture in the middle of the 1980s.
Bruce Springsteen went a long time between releasing albums with the full E Street Band as seventeen years had passed between Born In The U.S.A. in 1984 and The Rising in 2001. In between and after both albums, many other great releases were highlighted by the Tunnel Of Love album in 1987 and 2007’s Magic. We have enjoyed his most recent releases, too, like Working on a Dream, Wrecking Ball, High Hopes, Western Stars, and Letter to You.
With so much incredible music released, the challenge of picking a top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs of all time list comes down to personal choice. Usually, we try to spread out our best song lists to present a variety of songs from different points and periods of an artist’s career. Yet, utilizing that approach with Bruce on only ten songs won’t work. Ultimately, we composed it as a deserted island top 10 list. There are some pretty big ones missing from our top 10, most notably “Badlands” and “Born In The U.S.A.,” which we will probably be pretty beat up on for that. There is nothing from the Born In The U.S.A. album on the list that tells us something we already knew many years ago. Nonetheless, if we could only listen to ten Bruce Springsteen songs ever again, these would be the ten we would choose. So here we go………
This list was put together by members of the staff here who have been long-time Bruce Springsteen fans going back to the mid-1970s.
# 10 – Your Own Worst Enemy
In 2007, Bruce Springsteen released the album entitled Magic. This was a shocking album to many longtime Bruce Springsteen fans who were not expecting such a brilliant album that would deliver such a fresh sound for Bruce Springsteen. That fresh sound was influenced by the music of the 1960s, with Beach Boys and The Byrds-type harmonies wrapped around songs fueled lyrically by Springsteen’s frustration with the political climate of the 2000s in the U.S.
Many great songs on the album utilized this retro 1960s approach, but the standout in our eyes was the beautiful but dark and angry song entitled “Your Own Worst Enemy.” This is one we could listen to over and over again. The song’s closing line is one of the best Bruce Springsteen has ever written.
# 9 – The Rising
Our second of the only two Bruce Springsteen songs to make this list from the 21st century was the title track to Bruce Springsteen’s 2001 album The Rising. As a New Yorker who used to work in the World Trade Center as a musician, this album hit close to home to me and to millions of New Yorkers who had ties to people who worked in the WTC or lived in New York City. Those are days none of us will ever forget. Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Rising” was a song of hope for so many. It is a great gospel rock and roll song that is as uplifting as anything he has ever composed or performed. We sometimes need performers and artists to rescue us from tragedy. Bruce Springsteen answered the call magnificently.
# 8 – Jungleland
In the number eight spot on our top 10 Bruce Springsteen list, we present the song “Jungleland.” There was no way we could not include this masterpiece on our Bruce Springsteen songs list. “Jungleland” was the closing number on the 1975 album Born To Run. Do you remember when you first brought the Born To Run album and heard this song? We wonder how many rock fans sat in their bedrooms listening to this music with their jaws dropped open and could not believe what they heard.
“Jungleland” is probably Springsteen’s most cinematic song, which is saying a great deal because Bruce Springsteen has written many incredible cinematic pieces. I remember my father, who had worked in the Copacabana during the Rat Pack days, remarking about how beautiful Clarence Clemons’ saxophone solo was. It is a piece of music that was so well written and performed that it emotionally touches anyone who listens to it. For those of us who were lucky to catch the 78 tour, the performance of “Jungleland,” every night brought the house down, It is one of rock and roll’s greatest moments.
# 7 – Growin Up – Live Version
If you ever caught Bruce Springsteen live in the 1970s, you will understand this list much better than those who became Bruce Springsteen fans in the 80s and beyond. Bruce Springsteen’s 1970s concerts, especially the 78 tour, were rock and roll religious experiences. The most incredible concert I ever saw was Sprintseen at MSG during the summer of 1978. This live version of “Growing Up” was recorded at the Roxy Theater in California during that same summer of 78.
The story that Bruce Springsteen tells and how the band explodes back into the song is just one of those rock and roll moments where one can’t explain the euphoric feeling that comes over the body in that one moment in time. Amazingly, as I am writing this and listening to the song in the background, that feeling I got in 78 and again in 85 when the live record came out just happened again at that moment in the song……. rock and roll never forgets!
# 6 – Drive All Night
While Bruce Springsteen’s The River album was fueled by his first top 40 hits, “Hungry Heart,” and of course, the classic title track “The River,” the real gem of the album was the slow-moving, deeply emotional track “Drive All Night.” This is a song that will bring tears to your eyes. The song’s origins began as the coda to the live version of
“Backstreets.” Fans often labeled that section of the song as “Sad Eyes.”
“Backstreets” was one of the highlights of the 78s tour because of the coda Springsteen added to the live version at the end of the song. Two years later, many of us were shocked to hear “Sad Eyes” turned into an entire song of its own in this beautiful track called “Drive All Night.” Songs like this are why we were enthralled with the music of Bruce Springsteen.
# 5 – Backstreets
And speaking of “Backstreets.” This fantastic song has long been hailed by hard-core 70s Springsteen fans as one of the greatest songs Bruce Springsteen has ever recorded. Charles Cross named his great fan magazine after this song. The magazine eventually became the huge Bruce Springsteen fansite called Backstreets,com. It’s one of our favorite sites on the internet.
“Backstreets” was one of the best songs released on the Born To Run album, which contained many of the most remarkable songs of Bruce Springsteen’s career. “Backstreets” closed out side one in what may be one of the best side one closing tracks of all time. This was an album side that opened with “Thunder Road” and then squeezed in “Tenth Avene Freeze Out” and “Night in between those two songs. What an album side!” The story of Bruce and Terry trying to learn how to walk like the heroes they thought we all had to be is a story that any of us who grew up as teens in the 1970s lived through every day of our lives back then.
# 4 – Darkness On The Edge Of Town
It seemed like a lifetime between the Bruce Springsteen albums Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Bruce Springsteen’s legal battles with his former manager, Mike Appel, delayed the release of his follow-up album to Born To Run. When the Darkness On The Edge Of Town album was finally released, many Springsteen fans were shocked at how different Darkness On The Edge Of Town sounded compared to Born To Run. Just Bruce Springsteen’s voice alone was radically different. It was a much darker and more stripped-down album than Born To Run.
The album opener, “Badlands,” was probably the closest thing to the Born To Run album than anything else on Darkness. Many fans will give us a hard time for not including “Badlands” on this list. Yet, to us, the heart of the Darkness album was its own title track, “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.”
As dark as the song was, it is one of Bruce Springsteen’s greatest songs of hope. It’s in the narrator’s darkest moment when he stares into the abyss and, says screw it, I’m not giving up, I’m not giving into that darkness, it doesn’t matter anymore….. I’m moving on.
“Darkness On The Edge Of Town“ is a song that has probably rescued many people at certain times in their lives. It did most certainly for this writer.
# 3 – Rosalita
When speaking of Bruce Springsteen’s impact on classic rock history, one must always put to the forefront his incredible reputation as one of the most outstanding musical performers of all time. Not many rock stars have performed live with as much intensity and energy for as long as Bruces Springsteen did every night he took the concert stage. The song “Rosalita” was always a concert highlight. It was the party song where the lights were all turned on as the song was usually reserved for the night’s end, along with “Born To Run.” Its rocks, it roars and it takes you on a cinematic adventure like no other party song could, There are always songs like “Twist And Shout,” and “Mony Mony,” but “Rosalita,” took it to another level. Please don’t argue with us about this one. The song even sounds live on the record.
# 2 – Born To Run
The most straightforward argument to make for any Bruce Springsteen song to ever appear on a top 10 list would be for his classic and groundbreaking recording called “Born To Run.” We wonder how many people reading this can say that the first Bruce Springsteen song they ever heard was “Born To Run.” We once read that when Bruce Springsteen finished writing the song “Born To Run” he knew his life would change.
This is easily one of the most explosive, visually-oriented songs ever written. One does not need a video to see the imagery that Bruce Springsteen painted in this song. “Born To Run: stands as the song that would inspire a new generation of songwriters and give a good hard kick in the butt to some older writers that it was time to elevate their game because there was now a new Boss, and it wasn’t the same as the old boss.
# 1 – Thunder Road
We wrap up our top 10 Bruce Springsteen songs list with the same number one we picked on our best Bruce Springsteen songs of the 70s list. Everyone has their own favorite Bruce Springsteen song, and that choice at times may change, but for us, it has always been and will forever be “Thunder Road.” As the opening song on the Born To Run album, the story of finding a better life ignites the entire album but sadly closes with the bedroom light being turned off in “Jungleland.” Yet, at the start, it’s all about Mary and the will to win. It’s an anthem that worked just as well in its simple piano and vocal performance that opened the live 75-85 album to its bombastic Phil Spector sound-alike production on the Born To Run album. The soundtrack of so many of our teen lives for us 70s kids, starts with “Thunder Road.”
The ones that we wrestled with in putting together this list and we wish we could have included them also on the top 10 are below in chronological order….
# – Lost In The Flood
# – Incident on 57th Street
# – Meeting Across The River
# – Badlands
# – Something In The Night
# – Prove It All Night
# – The River
# – Atlantic City
# – Highway Patrolman
# – Bobby Jean
# – Born In The U.S.A.
# – Brilliant Disguise
# – Tunnel Of Love
# – Back In My Arms Again
# – This Life
# – Kingdom of Days
# – There Goes My Miracle