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"

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"Wreck on the Highway"

bruce springsteen
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The River, 1980

This song takes its title and some of its lyric inspiration from country singer Roy Acuff's 1940s car-crash parable. It portrays the aftermath of an accident from the point of view of a witness who ponders the loss experienced by "a girlfriend or a young wife" as he sees the victim and is haunted by the wreck. After trying it in rehearsal in a country-style arrangement, Springsteen settled on a slower, brooding version highlighting Danny Federici's meditative organ. "The highway's closed at a certain point," Springsteen says of the death-obsessed song. "You have a certain amount of miles that you can make. It's a recognition of mortality."

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