The Genre of Bruce Springsteen


By Greg Harman

Whenever the topic of music comes up in conversation, one question is always passed around: what’s your genre of music? And after many years of simply replying “classic rock”, I realized that I like music too much to narrow it down to one single category. There are just so many different types of music that I was raised on, from rock to folk to pop, that I could never pick a favorite.

However, everything changed early in my high school life when I learned about Bruce Springsteen.

I started out by just listening to a couple songs, “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road” were my first two. I thought they were very good and different, but I didn’t really connect with his music.

And then I heard “Badlands.” That was the first song that made me realize I was a Springsteen fan, and I never looked back.

I immediately listened to all his 70’s albums and worked my way through the rest of his music over the next year. The thing that attracted me to the wealth of music he has was how much his style changes album to album. From being called “the next Bob Dylan” after the release of his first album, to creating a name for himself with Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, to releasing a stellar comeback album based completely on 9/11. It made every album incredibly fresh.

Because of this, I never really considered him as one specific style. In the 1970’s and 80’s alone, he moved from very lyrically-dependent rock (Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ and The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle) to heartland rock (Born to Run) to harder rock (Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River) to folk (Nebraska) to pop (Born in the U.S.A.) to an album of love songs (Tunnel of Love). However, there are common qualities that make each and every album distinctly Springsteen. It makes Bruce Springsteen a genre in itself.

There’s a rawness about his lyrics and vocals that carries through his discography and brings so much emotion to his works. He also represents those that need it. He looks at this country lovingly, but with a critical eye. He takes the experiences he had growing up in New Jersey and tells the stories of working class America.

Jon Stewart had a fantastic quote when honoring the Boss at the Kennedy Center Honors. He said, “When you listen to Bruce’s music, you aren’t a loser. You are a character in an epic poem…about losers.”

These 10 Springsteen songs changed my life, and they may change yours as well.

  • “Lost in the Flood” –Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ
  • “Rosalita” –The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle
  • “Thunder Road” –Born to Run
  • “Backstreets” –Born to Run
  • “Born to Run” –Born to Run
  • “Jungleland” –Born to Run
  • “Badlands” –Darkness on the Edge of Town
  • “Adam Raised a Cain” –Darkness on the Edge of Town
  • “The River” –The River
  • “Jackson Cage” –The River

Cheers, Bruce.