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Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time

Didn't suck in the 70s

Didn’t suck in the 70s

Last month, Rolling Stone magazine published their 100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen songs online, as determined by both writers (Rob Sheffield, David Fricke, Mikal Gilmore, and many more) and musicians (Jackson Brown, Tom Morello, Steven Van Zandt, etc.).  If you don’t want to click through 100 pages on the RS website, the list is printed below.  The crack statistical analysis team at Rock NYC has dug a little deeper into the selections to find out what they say about Springsteen’s career and which albums rated the highest.

First, the easy part.  Even though Rolling Stone has been more of a cheerleading/press relations firm for “The Boss” instead of an objective, critical observer, the list clearly shows that the quality of Springsteen’s work has declined since the 1990s.  Maybe he established a standard that was impossible to maintain over time, but here are the stats:  72% of the list is from the  ‘70s and ‘80s; 80% of the Top 50 are pre-90s; and a whopping 88% of the Top 25 precede the Clinton era.  We shouldn’t take their reviews of individual albums too seriously, but The Rising, Magic, Working on a Dream (which did not place ONE SINGLE SONG ON THIS LIST), and Wrecking Ball were all given 5 stars by Rolling Stone.  This is the same rag that wouldn’t let Robert Christgau give Lucinda William’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road five stars.

Is that analysis enough for the crack CPA team at Rock NYC?  If the answer were yes, I wouldn’t be writing this paragraph.  So, digging a bit deeper, I’ve scored each individual song, based on their ranking (the #1 song received 100 points, the #100 song received 1 point).  Then, I divided the total points, by the number of songs on the album (not the number of songs on the list).  This average gives a ranking of each Bruce album that is represented.  And, it’s important to note, the staff of NYC would like to apologize on behalf of Rolling Stone and Mr. Springsteen if you actually purchased the Human Touch album.

Snark aside, one has to be impressed by Springsteen’s catalogue of work.

Top Albums:

1.  Born to Run.  Score = 73.6 (589 Points, 8 Songs on the List; 8 Total Songs on the Album)

2.  Darkness on the Edge of Town.  Score = 49.4 (494 Points, 8 Songs on the List; 10 Songs on the LP)

3.  The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle.  Score = 48.4  (339 Points; 5 Songs on the List)

4.  Nebraska.  Score = 43.5 (435 Points; 6 Songs on the List)

5.  Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.  Score = 27.77 (250 Points; 5 Songs on the List)

6.  Tunnel of Love.  Score = 27.42.  (329 Points; 7 Songs on the List)

7.  The River.  Score = 27.25 (545 Points; 12 Songs on the List)

8.  Wrecking Ball.  Score = 21.62 (281 Points; 6 Songs on the List)

9.  Lucky Town.  Score = 13.6 (136 Points; 3 Songs on the List)

10.  Magic.  Score = 13.55 (149 Points; 5 Songs on the List)

11.  The Rising.  Score = 12.93 (194 Points; 4 Songs on the List)

12.  The Ghost of Tom Joad.  Score = 12.5 (150 Points; 2 Songs on the List)

13.  18 Tracks.  Score = 8.39 (151 Points; 4 Songs on the List)

14.  Live/1975-85.  Score = 8.00 (104 Points; 3 Songs on the List)

15.  The Essential Bruce Springsteen.  Score = 4.76 (81 Points; 2 Songs on the List)

16.  Live in New York City.  Score = 4.11 (37 Points; 1 Song on the List)

17.  Devils & Dust.  Score = 1.08 (13 Points; 1 Song on the List)

18.  We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.  Score = 0.14 (2 Points, 1 Song on the List)


Rolling Stone Top 100 Springsteen Song List


1.     Born to Run (Born to Run)

2.     Badlands (Darkness)

3.     Thunder Road (Born to Run)

4.     Racing in the Street (Darkness)

5.     The River (River)

6.     Backstreets (Born to Run)

7.     Atlantic City (Nebraska)

8.     Darkness on the Edge of Town (Darkness)

9.     Born in the U.S.A. (Born in the USA)

10.   The Promised Land (Darkness)

11.   Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) (Wild, Innocent)

12.   The Ghost of Tom Joad (Ghost of Tom Joad)

13.   Jungleland (Born to Run)

14.   Nebraska (Nebraska)

15.   4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (Wild, Innocent)

16.   Prove It All Night (Darkness)

17.   Incident on 57th Street (Wild, Innocent)

18.   State Trooper (Nebraska)

19.   The Promise (18 Tracks)

20.   Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (Born to Run)

21.   I’m on Fire (Born in the USA)

22.   Dancing in the Dark (Born in the USA)

23.   Land of Hope and Dreams (Wrecking Ball)

24.   Streets of Philadelphia (Essential Bruce Springsteen)

25.   Stolen Car (The River)

26.   Tunnel of Love (Tunnel of Love)

27.   Highway Patrolman (Nebraska)

28.   The Rising (The Rising)

29.   Brilliant Disguise (Tunnel of Love)

30.   Wreck on the Highway (River)

31.   New York City Serenade (Wild, Innocent)

32.   Because the Night (Live ’75 – ’85)

33.   Spirit in the Night (Greetings from Asbury Park)

34.   Adam Raised a Cain (Darkness)

35.   Tougher Than the Rest (Tunnel of Love)

36.   Shut Out the Light (Tracks)

37.   No Surrender (Born in the USA)

38.   For You (Greetings from Asbury Park)

39.   My City of Ruins (The Rising)

40.   Youngstown (Ghost of Tom Joad)

41.   If I Should Fall Behind (Lucky Town)

42.   Meeting Across the River (Born to Run)

43.   Wrecking Ball (Wrecking Ball)

44.   Downbound Train (Born in the USA)

45.   Candy’s Room (Darkness)

46.   This Hard Land (Tracks)

47.   Lost in the Flood (Greetings from Asbury Park)

48.   Growin’ Up (Greetings from Asbury Park)

49.   Johnny 99 (Nebraska)

50.   Death to My Hometown (Wrecking Ball)

51.   One Step Up (Tunnel of Love)

52.   I’m Goin’ Down (Born in the USA)

53.   Hungry Heart (River)

54.   Streets of Fire (Darkness)

55.   Independence Day (River)

56.   Lucky Town (Lucky Town)

57.   Girls in Their Summer Clothes (Magic)

58.   Loose Ends (18 Tracks)

59.   Reason to Believe (Nebraska)

60.   You’re Missing (The Rising)

61.   Point Blank (River)

62.   Radio Nowhere (Magic)

63.   She’s the One (Born to Run)

64.   American Skin (41 Shots) (Live In New York City)

65.   Walk Like a Man (Tunnel of Love)

66.   Glory Days (Born in the USA)

67.   Seeds (’75 – 85)

68.   Your Own Worst Enemy (Magic)

69.   Cadillac Ranch (River)

70.   Better Days (Lucky Town)

71.   Jack of All Trades (Wrecking Ball)

72.   Gypsy Biker (Magic)

73.   Rocky Ground (Wrecking Ball)

74.   Johnny Bye Bye (Tracks)

75.   We Are Alive (Wrecking Ball)

76.   Roulette (Tracks)

77.   Two Faces (Tunnel of Love)

78.   My Hometown (Born in the USA)

79.   The Ties That Bind (The River)

80.   Out in the Street (River)

81.   Night (Born to Run)

82.   Drive All Night (River)

83.   Lonesome Day (The Rising)

84.   Pink Cadillac (18 Tracks)

85.   Fade Away (River)

86.   Restless Nights (Tracks)

87.   Bobby Jean (Born in the USA)

88.   Devils & Dust (Devils & Dust)

89.   Blinded by the Light (Greetings from Asbury Park)

90.   Back in Your Arms (Tracks)

91.   Ramrod (River)

92.   Sad Eyes (18 Tracks)

93.   The E Street Shuffle (Wild, Innocent)

94.   If I Was the Priest (Unreleased)

95.   All That Heaven Will Allow (Tunnel of Love)

96.   Long Walk Home (Magic)

97.   County Fair (Essential Bruce Springsteen)

98.   Brothers Under the Bridge (Tracks)

99.   American Land (We Shall Overcome: The Pete Seeger Sessions)

100.  Fire (Live ’75-’85)

1 Comment

  1. John Breslin on October 4, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    How is it even remotely possible that “Kitty’s Back” does not make that list? It should be top 10.

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