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"Streets of Philadelphia"
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Philadelphia soundtrack
B-side "If I Should Fall Behind"
Released December 1993 (album)
February 1994 (single)
Format CD single, CD maxi
7" single, Cassette
Recorded July-August 1993
Genre Rock music, heartland rock
Length 3:15
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Plotkin
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Bruce Springsteen singles chronology
"57 Channels (And Nothin' On)"
"Streets of Philadelphia"
"Secret Garden"

"Streets of Philadelphia" is a song written and performed by American rock musician Bruce Springsteen for the 1993 film Philadelphia. Released in 1994, the song was a hit in many countries, particularly in France, Germany, Ireland and Norway where it topped the singles charts.



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 Simms. 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 #9 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it became a number-one single in Germany and France. It also peaked at #2 in the United Kingdom, becoming Springsteen's highest charting hit in that country, and at #4 in Australia. "Streets of Philadelphia" ranks as his most recent top ten hit. The song was included in the album All Time Greatest Movie Songs, released by Sony in 1999.

Music video

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 prerecorded 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 also 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 good box office, 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 September 2006, only a couple of times across the three tours after that.

Cover versions

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 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" Mix Tape, in an effort to stop crime in the city. French artist Patrick Bruel covered the song, translating the lyrics into French while retaining the music. Portland, Oregon band ADVENTURES! With Might covered the song, turning it into a more up beat electronic pop song.

Awards won

Track listings

CD single / 7" single / Cassette
  1. "Streets of Philadelphia" – 3:15
  2. "If I Should Fall Behind" – 4:43
CD maxi / Maxi cassette
  1. "Streets of Philadelphia" – 3:15
  2. "If I Should Fall Behind" – 4:43
  3. "Growin' Up" – 3:13
  4. "The Big Muddy" – 4:11

The B-sides were selected from the previous year's live album In Concert/MTV Plugged.


Country Certification Date Sales certified
Austria[1] Gold May 18, 1994 15,000
France[2] Silver June 14, 1994 125,000
Germany[3] Gold 1994 150,000
Norway[4] Gold 1994 5,000
UK[5] Silver March 1, 1994 200,000
U.S.[6] Gold April 26, 1994 500,000


Chart (1994) Peak
Australia ARIA Singles Chart [7] 4
Austria Singles Chart [8] 1
France SNEP Singles Chart [9] 1
German Singles Chart [10] 1
Irish Singles Chart [11] 1
Italian Singles Chart [12] 1
Latvian Airplay Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart [13] 1
Swedish Singles Chart [14] 3
Swiss Singles Chart [15] 2
UK Singles Chart [16] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 [17] 9
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary [17] 3
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks [17] 25
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream [17] 13
Preceded by
"Return to Innocence" by Enigma
Norwegian VG-lista number-one single
15/1994 – 20/1994 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Loser" by Beck
Preceded by
"Without You" by Mariah Carey
Irish IRMA number-one single
March 25, 1994 – April 22, 1994 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Watch Your House for Ireland" by Coca-Cola Official Irish Team
Preceded by
"Omen III" by Magic Affair
German number-one single
April 8, 1994 – May 6, 1994 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Without You" by Mariah Carey
Preceded by
"All for Love" by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting
Ö3 Austria Top 40 number-one single
April 10, 1994 – May 1, 1994 (4 weeks)
Preceded by
"Je danse le Mia" by IAM
"It's Alright" by East 17
"Je danse le Mia" by IAM
French SNEP number-one single
April 16, 1994 – April 30, 1994 (3 weeks)
May 14, 1994 (1 week)
June 4, 1994 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"It's Alright" by East 17
"Je danse le Mia" by IAM
"Je danse le Mia" by IAM
Preceded by
"A Whole New World" from Aladdin
Academy Award for Best Original Song
Succeeded by
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King

See also


  1. ^ Austrian certifications (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  2. ^ French certifications (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  3. ^ German certifications (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  4. ^ Norwegian certifications (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  5. ^ UK certifications (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  6. ^ U.S. certifications (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  7. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" Australian singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  8. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" Austrian singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  9. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" French singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  10. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" No-1-Charts-Archive (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  11. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" Irish singles chart (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  12. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" Hit parade Italia (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  13. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" Norwegian singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  14. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" Swedish singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  15. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" Swiss singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  16. ^ "Streets of Philadelphia" UK singles chart history (Retrieved January 19, 2009)
  17. ^ a b c d Bruce Springsteen chart history at (Retrieved January 19, 2009)

External links



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