8. "Darkness on the Edge of Town"
If Born to Run was dominated by romantic visions of escape, its follow-up was about finding a place to make a stand. The street-racing narrator of Darkness on the Edge of Town's album-closing title track has lost his wife, his money and his hope for a better life, but he remains defiant: "Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop," Springsteen snarls over a stately, archetypally E Street arrangement. Springsteen described the song's hero as having "reached a point where you just have to strip yourself of everything to get yourself together." Steve Van Zandt said it highlights the feel of the whole album. "It looks heroic, sometimes it feels heroic, but it's actually an obsession, a compulsion," he says. "The song just sums up that record very accurately, in terms of 'the stories now, we're gonna not necessarily have a happy ending.' You still have the cinematic thing going on, but it's smaller. The cameras are zooming in. It's more of an independent film now."