The best-selling album of 1985 in the U.S.A. and Springsteen’s most successful album ever, producing a record-tying string of seven Top 10 hits. Rolling Stone faithfully defined the album’s spirit, calling Springsteen the “Voice of the Decade” “Like Nebraska, Born in the U.S.A. was about people who come to realize that life turns out harder, more hurtful, more close-fisted than they might have expected. But in contrast to Nebraska’s killers and losers, Born in the U.S.A.’s characters hold back the night as best they can, whether it’s by singing, laughing, dancing, yearning, reminiscing or entering into desperate love affairs. There was something celebratory about how these people face their hardships. It’s as if Springsteen were saying that life is made to endure and that we all make peace with private suffering and shared sorrow as best we can.” The title track is often misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem. The album’s cover, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, became an iconic image of the era.
The release of Nebraska, a stripped-down and disturbing solo album that, while a major left turn for a mainstream rock artist, becomes lauded by critics and beloved by fans. Bruce had attempted to revisit the songs himself and with his band throughout the year, but the music captured on the record is what he originally recorded on acoustic guitar and harmonica in January, 1982 stark, intimate, and uncompromising.
In Phoenix, a film crew captures footage for what will be Springsteen’s first music video, “Rosalita,” and additional songs later released as part of the Promise box set.
In a publicity coup engineered by producer Mike Appel, Springsteen appears simultaneously on the covers of Time (“Rock’s New Sensation”) and Newsweek (“Making of a Rock Star”) magazines. Springsteen tells Time, “I don’t understand what all the commotion is about…I feel like I’m on the outside of all this, even though I’m on the inside. It’s like you want attention, but sometimes you can’t relate to it.” In Newsweek, he says, “What phenomenon? We ain’t no phenomenon. The hype just gets in the way.”
Springsteen’s third LP, Born to Run, is released. Co-produced by Springsteen, Appel, and Landau, the album is wildly praised by critics and goes gold in a matter of weeks, cementing Springsteen’s reputation and his standing with the label after the relatively poor commercial performance of his first two albums.