Bruce Springsteen ’s “Streets of Philadelphia” was made purposely for the movie “ Philadelphia ” which came out in 1993. The song speaks mainly about pain and abandonment. And this is apparently because the movie it was made for centers on an abandoned homosexual lawyer who dies from AIDS.
Director Jonathan Demme used this to open his movie Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks as a lawyer dying of AIDS. Demme asked Springsteen for a rock song to open his movie. Bruce started writing it based on lyrics he had previously written about the death of one of his friends, but it did not work over a rock beat. Springsteen sent what he came up with to Demme, considering it an unfinished demo. Demme loved it and felt it was perfect for his movie just as it was.
Springsteen recorded this in his home studio in New Jersey, where he did the entire Nebraska album.
Demme wanted people not familiar with AIDS issues to see his film. He felt Springsteen and Young would bring an audience that would not ordinarily see a movie about a gay man dying of AIDS. The movie and the song did a great deal to increase AIDS awareness and take some of the stigma off the disease.
Tom Hanks added: “If you ever want to have a great moment in a motion picture, walk out a door and make sure they just put up a Bruce Springsteen song.” (Source: SongFacts)