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Original ‘Born to Run’ lyrics on display in US

May 7, 2014

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — Bruce Springsteen’s first draft of his 1975 classic “Born to Run” is making its public debut this week at Duke University.

The 30 lines of lyrics, written in pen on a piece of paper, were purchased last December at a Sotheby’s auction by Floyd Bradley, a California man whose daughter graduates this weekend from Duke, as does Springsteen’s daughter.

Bradley, 62, a retired computer software marketer who spent much of his life in London, paid $160,000 plus a commission, bringing the total to $197,000.

“It was a lot. I was embarrassed to tell my children,” he said. “But they were very supportive after I told them.”

He bought them as an investment, he said. “It’s a piece of Americana, I think.”

The original lyrics, written in 1974 in New Jersey, bear little resemblance to the anthem that Springsteen typically plays each concert with the house lights on and the audience on its feet.

But that familiar chorus of “tramps like us/baby we were born to run” is there as is a part that ended up much like the final version: “this town’ll rip the bones from your back/it’s A suicide trap/your dead unless you get out while your young.”

In the margins, he’s written words such as “wild angels,” ″Stroll on!” and “the rebels.”

“Something as iconic as this song, it’s going to be important to American history,” said Duke University exhibit librarian Meg Brown, who found 25 books about Springsteen, mostly academic, in Duke’s collections.

Bradley’s daughter, Melissa, graduates this weekend from Duke, as does Jessica Springsteen. He hasn’t reached out to Springsteen to set up a meeting, however. “But I might bump into him ...” Bradley said.

The lyrics will be displayed starting Thursday and continuing through Saturday at the Perkins Library. Then the sheet will move to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Perkins from May 12 to June 27.

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