Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Let’s Be Friends (Skin To Skin)” (2002)

In the Springsteen catalog, it’s not often that I prefer the studio over the live version of a song, but in the case of “Let’s Be Friends,” it’s the truth. Granted, the song has only been played live once (Hartford, September 16, 2003) and maybe if they’d stuck with it longer there would have been improvements.

Or maybe not. Given the E Street Band’s talent, you might think that the translation to the live setting would always work, but this isn’t necessarily the case. As we’d see later on with Magic‘s “Livin’ In The Future,” some tracks just lose something when translated to the live setting. I picked that particular song because I’m not alone in thinking that the tune was a little flat at the shows. Of course, many people complained about Bruce’s introductory political statements. I didn’t really care about so so much as the fact that the song never really “lifted off” like it should have.

Anyway, I guess the real question here is how did Springsteen end up writing a R&B-lite kind of song like this? Bruce’s love of R&B is well known, and the genre isn’t exactly off limits for him (Tenth Avenue Freeze Out anybody?), but here Bruce managed to write a song that eluded the grasp of the E Street Band.

I’ve embedded the one and only live rendition of the song. You can hear Springsteen trying to work it…but it ain’t workin’.

Next up: Further On (Up The Road)

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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 writes several 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.