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"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" is the second song on Bruce Springsteen's breakthrough album Born to Run.

The song loosely tells the story of the formation of the E Street Band. However, when asked, most Springsteen fans cannot answer the question, "What is a Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out?" The meaning of the phrase is still a mystery. Even Springsteen himself says, laughing, in the Born to Run documentary "Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run": "I still have no idea what it means. But it's important." The song's protagonist, "Bad Scooter", is a pseudonym for Springsteen himself (as indicated by the initials they share). In the third verse, Bad Scooter is saved by "the Big Man": Clarence Clemons, the band's saxophonist. After his name is sung, Clemons lets loose a big note on his horn.

The song is upbeat, possibly the most so on the album, with a strong horn section (led by Clemons) and Roy Bittan's consistent piano chords keeping the rhythm. As stated by Springsteen in the Wings for Wheels documentary, the idea for the composition of the horn intro was Steven Van Zandt's. Despite all of this, the single was a chart dud, getting no higher than #83 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it has always had a strong following on album-oriented rock radio and amongst Springsteen's fan base.

An ice cream stand at 10th Avenue on the boardwalk of Belmar, New Jerseymarker (the town from which the E Street Band took its name), is named 10th Avenue Freeze Out.

Live performance history

"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" has become a staple of Springsteen's E Street Band concert tours, with regular appearances from the 1975 and on Born to Run tours through the 1984 legs of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, with one of the latter documented on the later Live/1975–85, and the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express. It then returned with a featured regular spot on the 1999–2000 Reunion Tour, oftenly used as an introduction of the band. It was captured on the subsequent Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live in New York City release, and was frequently played during most of the legs of the 2007–2008 Magic Tour and during the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour. It opened the four-song set at Springsteen and the band's high profile half-time appearance at Super Bowl XLIII.

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