5 Iconic Projects That Featured Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen live in 2013 - Bruce Springsteen / Youtube
With a career spanning over five decades, Bruce Springsteen has not only carved out a legendary solo path but has also boosted his catalog outside his own body of work through an array of iconic collaborations.
The Boss’ career is a testament to the power of the human spirit and the ability of music to unite souls. His signature raspy voice, heartfelt lyrics, and electrifying stage presence have resonated with millions, and his contributions to the world of music extend far beyond his discography.
From working with legendary artists to surprising cameos and inspired cover versions, Springsteen’s willingness to embrace the collective spirit of music has enriched the industry and touched the hearts of fans worldwide. Each of these collaborations tells a unique story, not only about the magic of music but also about the unique energy Bruce Springsteen brings to any project he touches.
In the following captivating exploration of musical history, we’ll celebrate the indomitable spirit of one of rock’s most iconic figures and the resonance he’s created in the world of music through these five legendary projects.
1. “Because the Night” by Patti Smith
“Because the Night” is a rock anthem co-written by Bruce Springsteen with the godmother of punk Patti Smith. This iconic collaboration first graced the music scene in 1978 as a single from the Patti Smith Group’s album Easter.
The song made a significant impact, climbing to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and reaching No. 5 in the United Kingdom. It played a pivotal role in catapulting sales of Easter to mainstream success.
The story behind “Because the Night” is as intriguing as the song itself. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band initially recorded the song in New York on June 1, 1977, during the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions. Springsteen, at first struggling with the song, received a helping hand from his engineer, Jimmy Iovine, who was also producing Patti Smith’s Easter. Iovine’s intervention led to the song being given to Smith, resulting in her biggest hit single.
The influence of “Because the Night” extends beyond charts and accolades. It earned a place on NME magazine’s list of “The Top 150 Singles of All Time” in 1987 and was ranked at No. 358 on Rolling Stone’s “Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” in 2021. It remains one of the standout pieces in Patti Smith’s catalog and holds a place in the history of new wave singles from 1978.
2. Strictly a One-Eyed Jack by John Mellencamp
Strictly a One-Eyed Jack is the 24th studio album in the illustrious career of American singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, released on January 21, 2022, by Republic Records.
Mellencamp’s artistic journey with this album had an intriguing beginning. He started working on Strictly a One-Eyed Jack shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, and most of its songs were already penned before the world faced the challenges of the pandemic. However, the recording sessions hit a pause in March 2020 when the pandemic emerged and didn’t resume for an entire year, finally picking up again in March 2021.
During this time, Mellencamp invited none other than Bruce Springsteen to join him at his Belmont Mall recording studio in Belmont, Indiana. The result of this collaboration was nothing short of extraordinary.
The standout moment in this partnership was the creation of “Wasted Days”, the album’s lead single, released on September 29, 2021. “Wasted Days” is a poignant narrative, sung from the perspective of an aging man who’s acutely aware of the limited time he has left. The opening lyric, “How many summers still remain?” sets the tone for a reflection on the passage of time and the desire to make the most of each precious day.
3. Renegades: Born in the USA with Barack Obama
Renegades: Born in the USA is a 2021 podcast series that brings together former U.S. president Barack Obama and Springsteen for a unique and engaging exchange of ideas.
This extraordinary collaboration was born out of a deep friendship that developed during the campaign trail for Barack Obama’s 2008 United States presidential election campaign. The podcast sessions unfolded in a truly intimate setting, with recordings taking place at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck Township, New Jersey.
This setting provided the ideal backdrop for heartfelt and unfiltered conversations between two iconic figures, as they delved into a wide range of topics, sharing their insights and perspectives.
Renegades: Born in the USA is as a testament to the power of dialogue, friendship, and shared experiences. The former POTUS and Bruce Springsteen’s thought-provoking conversations offer a unique window into their worldviews and the moments that shaped their lives. It’s a must-listen for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of these two American legends and the profound conversations that bind them together.
4. “Dustland” with The Killers
In 2008, the Las Vegas-born band, The Killers, released the song “A Dustland Fairytale” as the fourth single from their third studio album, Day & Age. The song carried the band’s signature rock sound, but it was more than just music; it was a lyrical exploration of frontman Brandon Flowers’ parents, affectionately referring to his mother as “Cinderella” and his father as a “slick chrome American prince.”
The Killers have drawn significant inspiration from Springsteen, encompassing not only his music but also his passion and unique perspective on America. Fast forward three years from the original release of “A Dustland Fairytale”, and The Killers, with their Springsteen-inspired spirit, decided to pay homage to their musical hero.
They released a new version of the song, simply titled “Dustland”. This rendition featured a unique twist, with Bruce Springsteen himself joining in. Springsteen lent his iconic voice to the second verse, taking the lead in the chorus and bridge, while Brandon Flowers continued to captivate with his vocals in the first and second verses, as well as the second chorus and bridge.
This collaboration not only bridges generational gaps but also showcases the respect and admiration The Killers hold for Springsteen. “Dustland” stands as a harmonious union of their musical energies, a heartfelt tribute to their shared love for storytelling and rock ‘n’ roll.
5. “When Will I Be Loved” with John Fogerty
“When Will I Be Loved” takes us on a journey through the annals of American music history, featuring a remarkable collaboration between two icons, John Fogerty and Springsteen. This timeless classic was originally penned by Phil Everly of the legendary Everly Brothers and became a US top-ten hit in 1960.
Fast forward to the 2009 John Fogerty album, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again, and we witness a revival of this beloved song, with Springsteen adding his unique touch to it. This rendition marks the culmination of many American music icons coming together to celebrate a classic.
The album was originally announced in December 2008, initially titled The Return of the Blue Ridge Rangers and set for release by Fantasy Records. This label holds significance for Fogerty, being the same label he recorded for with Creedence Clearwater Revival and his 2007 “comeback” album, Revival.
The recording process itself is a fascinating journey. It unfolded at Village Recorders in Santa Monica, California, during a 10-day session. The album captures the essence of American music, with special guest appearances, other than Springsteen, from The Eagles’ Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit, further enhancing the collaborative spirit of this musical masterpiece.