Bruce Springsteen: The Promise: The Lost Sessions (2010)

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by Mark Saleski

To call this group of songs “The Lost Sessions” is to put a slightly misleading spin on things. We all know the story, the one of the huge volume of music that Bruce wrote post-Born To Run with some songs ending up on Darkness On The Edge Of Town, some on The River, and most of the rest taking a long vacation on the shelf. It’s a testament to Springsteen’s writing talents that he was able to give away songs like “Talk To Me,” and “Because The Night,” release two albums, and still have all of this amazing music left over.

In his struggle to keep the album’s emotional and thematic environment focused, there were a lot of songs that had to be passed by. Much of what you’ll hear on The Promise was not lost so much as temporarily set aside for the greater purpose of Darkness‘s realization.

Some of the songs presented here are alternate versions of their final counterparts. This includes the rock version of “Racing In The Street” (love the nod to “Thunder Road” in the intro), “Candy’s Boy” (done as more of a ballad), and “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight),” which would go on to become “Factory.” “Fire” is much more of an uptempo pop song, less sultry than its brother from Born In The U.S.A.. Being a long-time Southside Johnny fan, it feels very strange to hear Bruce singing “Talk To Me.” That was definitely a nice gift to Mr. Lydon.

During the documentary on the making of Darkness Steve Van Zandt points out that, in reference to his prolific output, Springsteen could have been one of the greatest pop songwriters of all time. Since the new album was to be a conscious step away from the Spector/Wall of Sound/Brill Building pop that Bruce was raised on (and that informed so much of Born To Run), a clear line of demarcation began to form. So all of these years later, we get to hear this intriguing set of lost songs: the beautiful lilt of “Spanish Eyes”; the uplifting rockers “Save My Love,” “Ain’t Good Enough For You,” “Wrong Side Of The Street,” and “Rendezvous” (a fan favorite at shows); the gently rising “The Brokenhearted,” and “Someday (We’ll Be Together). That last song was a real ear-opener, with a soaring vocal style that was brought forward to Magic‘s “Girls In Their Summer Clothes.”

Mistakes? Many people have said that “Because The Night” should have made the cut. Bruce made it pretty clear that it was a love song, and there was no space on Darkness for a love song. “The Promise” didn’t make it either. Thematically, the song would definitely have fit, though Springsteen was never quite happy with how he had recorded it. In his own words, he felt “too close to it.” Well, history can’t be undone, and my ears tell me that Bruce got Darkness On The Edge Of Town just right.

The final listed track on The Promise, the very soulful “City Of Night,” fades out to reveal the hidden bonus rarity “The Way.” Somehow, it’s a fitting conclusion to this set, this little love song…out of place on Darkness, but pulling together these lost songs. Thanks, Bruce.


Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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