With "Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen achieved the perfect balance between working-class reality and rock & roll mythology. A blue-collar fairy tale evoking Phil Spector in its romanticized grandeur and Bob Dylan in its street-corner poetic grit, critic Greil Marcus once described it as "a '57 Chevy running on melted-down Crystals records," a superb metaphor which mirrors not only the song's sonic ambitions, but its thematic aims as well. "Born to Run" is teen melodrama in excelsis, overblown and histrionic in ways Spector never imagined; it smacks of the kind of palpable, life-or-death desperation which threads its way through everything from Romeo and Juliet to Rebel Without a Cause, where every action, every thought, and every word bears the complete weight of the world. When Springsteen sings "I wanna die with you, Wendy, on the street tonight in an everlasting kiss," the moment trembles with apocalyptic fervor. Set against the backdrop of the Jersey shore, "Born to Run" paints a remarkably vivid portrait of life on the margins -- its characters prowl their territory like caged tigers, dead-end kids cruising up and down the strip searching in vain for their escape route out. "The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive/Everybody's out on the run tonight but there's no place left to hide" -- hopes and dreams become virtually indistinguishable from resignation and acceptance as the images pile on top of each other. Still, for all its melancholy and poignance, "Born to Run" is first and foremost a celebration of the rock & roll spirit, capturing the music's youthful abandon, delirious passion, and extraordinary promise with cinematic exhilaration. It's the record which made Springsteen a superstar, and its raw vitality and epic scope remain unmatched.