34 years ago, the Boss made Pink Cadillac sing

1957 Cadillac Sedan Deville

You Never Can Tell what Bruce Springsteen might be Racing in the Street, but 34 years ago today—on May 4, 1984—it was a Pink Cadillac.

The car-themed single was released as the B-side to Dancing in the Dark, the first (and biggest) hit from Springsteen’s biggest-selling album, Born in the USA. Although entertainment writers had been referring to the Boss as the new face of rock ’n’ roll for years, Born in the USA vaulted him to international stardom. Ten of the album’s 12 songs became hits, seven of which were released as singles that each reached the Billboard Top 10.

Pink Cadillac was actually Springsteen’s second tune referencing the iconic luxury brand; Cadillac Ranch (1980) was the first. [And yes, there is an actual tourist attraction called Cadillac Ranch, just offRoute 66 in Amarillo, Texas.]

Bruce Springsteen in Germany, Summer of 1988
Thomas Uhlemann
Bruce Springsteen in Germany, Summer of 1988

Springsteen’s inspiration for Pink Cadillac was none other than Elvis Presley, who bought a blue 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood and famously painted it pink—or, as he called it— “Elvis Rose.” That car is on display at Presley’s Graceland mansion/museum in Nashville.

Pink Cadillac spent 14 weeks on the Billboard charts in 1984, peaking at #27 on June 9. Thirty years later, in 2014, Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the “100 Greatest Bruce Springsteen Songs of All Time,” although it was ranked way down the list at 84th.

Natalie Cole released her own rendition of Pink Cadillac in 1988, and it also became a hit. In fact, it surpassed Springsteen’s version by climbing all the way to #5 on May 7 that year. It was the third-biggest hit of Cole’s career.

It seems we can never get enough of Cadillac, especially the pink ones.