Streets of Philadelphia
|"Streets of Philadelphia"|
|Single by Bruce Springsteen|
|from the album Philadelphia soundtrack|
|B-side||"If I Should Fall Behind"|
|Released||February 2, 1994|
3:15 (single edit)|
4:17 (soundtrack version)
|Bruce Springsteen singles chronology|
"Streets of Philadelphia" is a song written and performed by American rock musician Bruce Springsteen for the film Philadelphia (1993), an early mainstream film dealing with HIV/AIDS. Released as a single in 1994, the song was a hit in many countries, particularly Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Norway, where it topped the singles charts.
The song was a critical triumph and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song and four Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo, and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television. In 2004 it finished at #68 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.
In early 1993, Philadelphia director Jonathan Demme asked Springsteen to write a song for the in-progress film, and in June, after the conclusion of the "Other Band" Tour, Springsteen did so. It was recorded with Springsteen supplying almost all of the instrumentation, with bass and background vocals from "Other Band" member Tommy Sims. Additional saxophone and vocal parts by Ornette Coleman and "Little" Jimmy Scott, respectively, were recorded but never used—although those elements are used in a brief scene in the film when Tom Hanks exits Denzel Washington's office. Released in early 1994 as the main single from the film's original soundtrack, it became a huge success for Springsteen all over Europe and North America.
"Streets of Philadelphia" achieved greater popularity in Europe than in the United States. While it peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it became a number-one single in Germany, France and Austria. It peaked at number two in the United Kingdom, becoming Springsteen's highest charting hit in Britain, and number four in Australia. As of 2012, "Streets of Philadelphia" ranks as his most recent top ten hit. The song was included on the album All Time Greatest Movie Songs, released by Sony in 1999.
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 Bruce 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. This was a technique, appropriate for emotionally intense songs for which conventional video lip-syncing would seem especially false, that John Mellencamp pioneered in his 1985 "Rain on the Scarecrow" video, and that Springsteen himself had used on his 1987 "Brilliant Disguise" video. Springsteen would go on to use the same technique in his "Lonesome Day" video in 2002.
Live performance history
Because of the song's sterling achievements in the awards world, Springsteen played the song live in three high-visibility, prime-time awards show broadcasts: at the 66th Academy Awards in March 1994, at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1994, and at the Grammy Awards of 1995 in March 1995. Between this, Philadelphia's strong box office performance, and the single being a Top 10 pop hit, "Streets of Philadelphia" became one of Springsteen's best-known songs to the general music audience.
Nonetheless, Springsteen went on to perform the song only sparingly in his own concerts. In solo guitar form and missing the song's trademark synthesizers-and-drums feel, it was performed semi-regularly on the solo and stark 1995-1997 Ghost of Tom Joad Tour. After that, the song became a rarity, only appearing a dozen times on the 1999-2000 E Street Band Reunion Tour, and, as of January 2016, only a few times across the nine tours after that.
The song has been covered live by Melissa Etheridge and David Gray. Recorded covers have been released by Ray Conniff (on his 1997 album, I Love Movies), Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Marah, Liv Kristine, Molly Johnson, Bettye Lavette, SALEM, Gregorian and I Muvrini with Anggun. Philadelphia rappers, Cassidy & the Larsiny Family have made a cover of this song on the Put Ya L in the Sky mixtape, in an effort to stop crime in the city. French artist Patrick Bruel and U2 covered the song, translating the lyrics into French while retaining the music.
After the movie "Philadelphia" was released, many artists covered it. in 1993, when "Rhino Records assembled its box set, Academy Award Winning Songs (1934-1993), the same year, it was unable to license the Springsteen track and instead commissioned Richie Havens to record a cover version".
In 2010, the French string quartet Quatuor Ébène recorded a version on their album Fiction, with drummer Richard Héry, sung by the quartet's violist Mathieu Herzog.
In 2011, the German group Gregorian released a Gregorian chant version of the song in their album Masters of Chant Chapter VIII.
- Academy Awards
- Golden Globe Awards
- Grammy Awards
- MTV Video Music Awards
Charts and sales
- Cultural depictions of Philadelphia
- List of number-one hits of 1994 (Austria)
- List of RPM number-one singles of 1994
- List of European number-one hits of 1994
- List of number-one hits of 1994 (France)
- List of number-one hits of 1994 (Germany)
- List of number-one singles of 1994 (Ireland)
- List of number-one hits in Norway
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 137. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- King, Alex P. (2004). Hit-parade — 20 ans de tubes (in French). Paris: Pascal. p. 341. ISBN 2-35019-009-9.
- All Music - Song Review
- Musica.co.za, Retrieved 4 February 2014]
- El disc de la Marató de TV3 - Televisió de Catalunya
- USA Today
- "Streets of Philadelphia" Australian singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" Austrian singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- Belgian peak
- Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
- "Streets of Philadelphia" French singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" No-1-Charts-Archive (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" Irish singles chart (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" Hit parade Italia (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Single top 100 over 1994" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- "Streets of Philadelphia" New Zealand singles chart history (Retrieved April 17, 2010)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" Norwegian singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" Swedish singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" Swiss singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Streets of Philadelphia" UK singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- Bruce Springsteen chart history at Allmusic (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "1994 Australian Singles Chart". aria. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- "1994 Austrian Singles Chart" (in German). Austriancharts. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- "1994 French Singles Chart" (in French). Disqueenfrance. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- "1994 Swiss Singles Chart" (in German). Swisscharts. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- "Billboard Top 100 - 1994". Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- Austrian certifications ifpi.at (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- French certifications Disqueenfrance.com (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Streets+of+Philadelphia')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved January 19, 2009.
- Norwegian certifications Ifpi.no (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- UK certifications Bpi.co.uk (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- U.S. certifications riaa.com (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
- Brucebase history of song
- "Streets of Philadelphia" review at Allmusic
- Information on the "Streets of Philadelphia" single at Allmusic
- Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics