“” 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, 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.