Born to Run’s cover embodies hope and happiness. Bruce is smiling and leaning on an out-of-frame Clarence Clemons. He’s holding The Guitar—his weapon against the world. The title is in clean, legible type and regulated to its own corner. The cover is all about being with your friends, working toward a greater good, and its own contrast of race and identity.
For Wrecking Ball, Bruce is alone. He looks down in front of a black background with a thoughtful stare. He’s still holding The Guitar. He still has his weapon, but he’s lost his soldier in arms. Things have changed. No one is out of the frame to lean on anymore. The type is sloppy, handwritten and takes up the entirety of the cover. There are bigger things than fonts to care about, at this point.
Whether or not this contrast was planned, I don’t think Bruce fans can ignore it. Wrecking Ball is Bruce’s darkest cover; Born to Run is the brightest.