The themes of love, faith, hope, struggle and identity have been Springsteen's guiding light since he made his debut on 'Born to Run' 43 years ago. He's explored the dark side of the American dream, broken promises and the possibilities of salvation and redemption.
"Born to Run" lays the foundation for everything that Springsteen would write about over the next four decades. The song established the characters and themes that he would explore throughout his career, and it changed the way he thought about songwriting in general.
Songs about his father ('Freehold', 'Walk Like a Man') and his brother Danny ('The Last Carnival', 'Working on a Dream') have been powerfully and poignantly woven into the fabric of Springsteen's music. 'If I Should Fall Behind', which he wrote for Danny Federici, is perhaps the most evocatively beautiful of all these tracks.
'If I Should Fall Behind' was rearranged for the E Street Band's 1999-2000 reunion tour, and became a cherished anthem among Bruce's musicians. Clarence Clemons contributed a tender and inspiring saxophone solo, and the band's chemistry was on full display.
It's a wistful ballad about a Vietnam vet who doesn't come home, and it's one of the more heartfelt songs on 'The Rising'. It's a song that Springsteen holds accountable for, and a very special moment in the band's history occurred when the song was played onstage during a performance of 'The Promise' in 2006. As the E Street Band came together again, it became a reaffirmation of the bond they shared as friends and brothers.