Peak UK Chart Position: #2 in March 1994.
So, what was Bruce Springsteen’s biggest hit single in the UK?
Was it 1984’s “Dancing In The Dark”? His first significant hit in the UK after “The River” made a lowly number 35 in 1981, “Dancing In The Dark” was famous for the video in which Springsteen invites a young Courtney Cox onto the stage during his performance of the track – a video that won MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance a year later, to go with Springsteen’s first Grammy award for Best Rock Vocal Performance. The song made number two and was certified Platinum (million seller) in the States – his biggest hit single there – and a pretty impressive number four in the UK.
Was it 1985’s “Born In The USA”? Actually a double A-sided single in the UK with “I’m On Fire”, both of which were consecutive top ten hits in America, “Born In The USA” is one of Springsteen’s signature songs, ranked among Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs Of All Time” at number 275. It only managed number nine in the States, but sold enough to gain a Gold certification (500,000 copies), whilst in the UK it managed number five.
Was it 1987’s “Born To Run”? Something of an anthem for Springsteen, but not massively reflected in its chart placings – a little like Bryan Adams’ “Summer Of ’69”. “Born To Run” was originally released in 1975, and despite being his first worldwide release, it got to number 23 in the States and did very little elsewhere. Its popularity has stood the test of time though, and it has been covered many times over the years by acts as wide-ranging as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Suzi Quatro, and McFly. It ranks number 21 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time”. In the UK, it finally charted in 1987 as a live version, managing to get to number 16.
Was it 1994’s “Streets Of Philadelphia”? Perhaps surprisingly, yes. Written for the film “Philadelphia”, which stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, the song won four Grammy awards: Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo, and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television. It got to number one in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Norway – but in echoes of Ultravox’s “Vienna” it was held off the top spot in the UK by a novelty track – namely “Doop”.
The music video for the song, directed by Jonathan Demme and his nephew Ted Demme, begins by showing Springsteen walking along desolate city streets, followed by a bustling park and schoolyard, interspersed with footage from the film. After a quick shot of Rittenhouse Square, it ends with Springsteen walking along the Delaware River, with the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in the background. Tom Hanks is also visible as the lead character he plays in the film, looking on as Springsteen begins the final verse. The vocal track for the video was recorded live during the shooting, using a hidden microphone, to a pre-recorded instrumental track.
It was up to number three in the UK on this day in 1994, one week away from its peak position.