Director Jonathan Demme used this to open his movie Philadelphia
, starring Tom Hanks as a lawyer dying of AIDS. Demme met Springsteen in 1985 on the video shoot for "Sun City
," but had not seen him since. Demme first cut the title sequence of Philadelphia to "Southern Man
" and asked Neil Young to write a song like it for the movie. Young gave him "Philadelphia," which he used at the end of the film. Still needing a song for the open, he called Springsteen.
Demme asked Springsteen for a rock song to open his movie. Bruce started writing it based on lyrics he had previously written about the death of one of his friends, but it did not work over a rock beat. Springsteen sent what he came up with to Demme, considering it an unfinished demo. Demme loved it and felt it was perfect for his movie just as it was.
Springsteen recorded this in his home studio in New Jersey, where he did the entire Nebraska album.
This was the first of five previously unreleased songs included on Springsteen's 1995 Greatest Hits album.
In the UK, this is Springsteen's highest-charting hit.
This won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1994, beating out Neil Young's "Philadelphia," which was also written for the movie. Tom Hanks won his first Best Actor Oscar for his role in the movie.
Demme wanted people not familiar with AIDS issues to see his film. He felt Springsteen and Young would bring an audience that would not ordinarily see a movie about a gay man dying of AIDS. The movie and the song did a great deal to increase AIDS awareness and take some of the stigma off the disease.
This won Grammys for Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best Male Vocal, and Best Song Written For a Motion Picture or Television. Springsteen opened the show in 1995 performing this.
This was the first song Springsteen wrote specifically for a movie. He gave Paul Schrader "Light Of Day
" for the 1987 movie, but did not write it specifically for him.
Demme directed Springsteen's video for "Murder Incorporated" in 1995.
At the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen took the stage and discussed this song. Springsteen explained that Jonathan Demme, who died a few days before the festival, sent him the opening sequence of the film to give him a visual. "Eventually, I came up with that tiny little beat and I figured it wasn't what he wanted, but I sent it to him anyway," Springsteen said.
Tom Hanks added: "If you ever want to have a great moment in a motion picture, walk out a door and make sure they just put up a Bruce Springsteen song."