100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time

An expert panel of writers and artists pick Springsteen's best songs, from "Rosalita" to "Wrecking Ball"


"Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)"

bruce springsteen
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, 1973

Springsteen wrote his first real anthem for exactly the purpose it ended up serving for decades: to blow the roof off concert venues of all shapes and sizes. The cadence and melody of the song appeared in a Van Morrison-style soul-folk tune called "Henry Boy," which he performed solo acoustic in 1972. By the time he recorded "Rosalita" in early 1973, it was a surging, exultant, breathless rocker – not to mention, a totally true story: "Tell him this is his last chance/To get his daughter in a fine romance/Because the record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance." Springsteen later said, "The stuff I write is the stuff I live with. . . . They're all true. Even the names – Big Balls Billy, Weak-Kneed Willie, all of 'em." (Ex-girlfriend Diane Lozito is believed to have inspired the song, but Springsteen has never given any indication as to Rosie's true identity.) The song's romantic dilemma – Rosie's dad has locked her away – is presented with fierce urgency, except for one lyric, which Springsteen later called "one of the most useful lines I've ever written": "Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny."

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