A glimpse of Bruce Springsteen’s Promise

Frank Stefanko's cover photo for Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town album.

Whatever mistakes NPR made in the handling of the Juan Williams situation, I forgive them.

For the next two weeks, they’ve guaranteed I can begin loving 15 of the 21 songs on Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming release, The Promise, subtitled The Lost Sessions: Darkness on the Edge of Town, a collection of 21 unreleased songs from the Darkness sessions.

NPR is streaming 15 songs individually, or you can choose to listen to them all together randomly in one stream.

No matter how you listen, the fact is that you can right here. At least until Nov. 16, the album’s release date.

Among the 15 songs are:

  • The original version of “The Promise.” Not only is this the centerpiece of THIS set, it very well may be one of Springsteen’s best, period. There was an updated version released on the 18 Tracks album, but it can’t compare to the original. Seriously, in my book, this is a top-10 Springsteen song.
  • Studio versions of “Fire,” made popular by the Pointer Sisters, and “Because the Night,” completed by Patti Smith. The lyrics are slightly different than the Smith version we’ve become used to.
  • “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)” is basically an alternate version of “Factory,” which made Darkness. The music is essentially the same and it has that same country feel, but the lyrics are quite different. At least one line in the song, about Elvis Presley’s death, we would later see in “Johnny Bye-Bye.”
  • “Ain’t Good Enough For You” is kind of a goofy, fun, 60s-type pop song. It’s closer to something that might have made The River. But it’s not hard to see how it didn’t fit with Darkness.
  • “City of the Night” is a kind of a tight-but-mellow three-minute soul piece.
  • “It’s a Shame” has a nice guitar rhythm or groove going on between Bruce and Steven Van Zant.
  • “Save My Love,” for which there is a video that I linked to out of this post, is the only song of the 15 that was totally re-recorded. So it’s essentially a 2010 E-Street Band version of a 1978 Springsteen tune.
  • “Candy’s Boy” is one of two songs that eventually were combined and morphed into what we now know as “Candy’s Room.” (The other was called “The Fast Song” and essentially was the musical framework for “Candy’s Room”). It’s kind of slow and this version is cut from the one found on Darkness outtake bootlegs. But I really like it. why? I don’t know. I always have.
  • “Rendevous” is much the same as the live version heard on Tracks, but there are a couple of slight lyrical changes I’m not sure I like.
  • “The Brokenhearted” is a very Roy Orbison-esque song. The title gives away the subject matter.
  • There’s a heavier version of “Racing in the Street,” with some substantial lyrical differences from the track we’ve come to know. The core of the song remains the same though, and I think this one will grow on me.
  • “The Wrong Side of the Street” is another 60s pop song.
  • “Gotta Get That Feeling” recalls the Phil Spector sound, and there’s definitely an Orbison feel to it.
  • “Outside Looking In” is pure Buddy Holly.

The tracks NPR doesn’t preview are “Spanish Eyes,” “Talk to Me,” “The Little Things (My Baby Does),” “Someday (We’ll Be Together),” “Breakaway,” and “One Way Street.”

The Darkness outtakes still missing from this collection are numerous and include “The Way,” maybe one of Springsteen’s most romantic songs ever. There’s no telling if it will ever see the light of day.

Nonetheless, if you listen to these 15 tracks, and the other six on the album, I think you’ll find that even Springsteen’s cast offs during this period were gems.

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