And the Oscar Goes To…

Springsteen wins the Best Original Song Academy Award for “Streets of Philadelphia,” from Jonathan Demme's film Philadelphia, becoming the first rock ’n roll artist to win an Oscar in this category. “This is the first song I ever wrote for a motion picture, so I guess it’s all downhill from here,” Bruce jokes in his acceptance speech. Propelled by a hip-hop rhythm that makes good on the promise of post-E Street Band experimentation, the song spends 15 weeks in the Top 40, the longest stay since “Dancing in the Dark,” nearly ten years prior.

Rockin’ All Over the World

Following the Tunnel of Love Express Tour, Bruce and the E Street Band head out to more far-flung locales on the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour. The six-week worldwide jaunt begins on this night in London, soon bringing Springsteen and the E Streeters (along with Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, and Youssou N'Dour) to Greece, India, South Africa, and Central and South America.

Tunnel of Love

Springsteen's studio follow-up to Born in the U.S.A. ships double platinum. It's a profound song cycle dominated by what Springsteen will call his "men and women songs." Richard Harrington reviews Tunnel of Love for the Washington Post: "It's not that Springsteen is the first writer to address the confusions of the heart…but putting out such an introspective and intimate collection on the heels of the hard-charging Born in the U.S.A. and the heroically structured Live set is an intriguing move. It contains some of Springsteen's most personal work and could very well provide the demythologizing he must crave."

Born in the U.S.A. Arrives

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.

Rosie Comes Out

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.

Rock’s New Sensation

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.”

Born To Run

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.

Live at the Bottom Line

A high-profile, ten-show stand begins at The Bottom Line in New York and builds excitement for Born to Run, with the title track released as a single at the end of the month.

The Future

Jon Landau’s “Growing Young with Rock and Roll” is published in The Real Paper. Columbia singles out one line from Landau’s lengthy column to be used in a marketing campaign: “I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” The line seems ready-made for ad copy, and, taken out of context and used in a heavy advertising blitz, it becomes both a needed spur to album sales and the bane of Bruce’s existence.

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