The original, handwritten lyric sheet for Bruce Springsteen’s 1975 hit “Born to Run” has fetched $197,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.
An unidentified telephone bidder won the 30-line manuscript for almost double the estimated price of $70,000 to $100,000 after the auction opened with a $40,000 bid.
The seller also remains unknown, but is believed to have acquired the early draft from the Boss’ former manager, Mike Appel, before the height of his success.
Springsteen, now 64, penned the lyrics aged 26 in Long Branch, New Jersey with much of what is written on the sheet left unpublished and unrecorded. He worked on it for six months with the intention of making it a classic. “Born to Run” was reportedly inspired by Peter Pan, hence the girl in it being called Wendy.
Sotheby’s revealed the draft, written in blue ink on ruled paper, had a “nearly perfected chorus”. Words such as “wild”, “angels” and “the rebels” are scrawled in the margin.
The auction house’s notes read: “Although Springsteen is known to have an intensive drafting process, few manuscripts of “Born to Run” are available, with the present example being one of only two identified that include the most famous lines in the song.
“This iteration expresses the darkness that the early versions are known for, but has the distinction of a nearly perfected chorus. The imagery and tone are constant from the present manuscript to the final song.”
“Tramps like us, baby we were born to run” from Springsteen’s anthem of American escapism is one of the best known lyrics in US music history.
The “Thunder Road” singer was sued by Appel over music rights after the release of the Born to Run album, preventing him from releasing any music until an out of court settlement had been reached.
Darkness on the Edge of Town proved one of his angriest albums when it emerged after the lawsuit in 1974. Springsteen and Appel have since ended their feud and are thought to be on good terms.