24. "Streets of Philadelphia"
Philadelphia soundtrack, 1993
In 1993, Jonathan Demme asked Springsteen to write a song for his new movie about the AIDS crisis. Transposing the intimate feel of recent albums into a sonic context, he went to his home studio with a drum machine and no musicians. What emerged was a sparse, haunting ballad that flew up the charts all over the world, genuinely challenged his audience and earned him a Grammy, a Golden Globe and even an Academy Award. "To write from the perspective of someone who is emaciated, with AIDS, is to forsake all of the strength Springsteen had staked his career on," says Jackson Browne. "It is quite a feat."