Bruce Springsteen (unreleased tracks of music albums; 1960s-2000s)

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Bruce Springsteen.jpg

A picture of Bruce Springsteen at a concert.

Status: Lost

Bruce Springsteen is one of rock music's most influential singer-songwriters. Focusing on blue collar and working class subject matter in his music, many see his image as part of the "American Dream". His albums Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A. are considered two of the greatest albums ever recorded. He still maintains a long stream of critically and commercially successful work even today.

Springsteen has been identified as an extreme perfectionist and workaholic. Each of his albums is known for having at minimum 10 unreleased tracks, numerous albums getting up to 50. This makes Springsteen's catalog one of the hardest to complete, as complete song lists are difficult to acquire. Many of the songs were performed in live recordings or earlier studio recordings, but many studio recordings or later versions are left unaccounted for.

While many tracks appear on bootlegs and on the comprehensive 1995 release titled Tracks, many of Springsteen's songs remain lost completely or housed in a studio vault.

Pre-Columbia Recordings (Existence Disputed For Some Recordings; 1964-1972)

Bruce Springsteen started out really active in the music scene from the age of 15. Feeling inspired by the performance of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he wanted to gather a strong band to write enjoyable music. In the space of these years, Springsteen was a member of many different bands, most notably Steel Mill. Steel Mill would record many of their live performances and produced a few official releases on vinyl in later years after its members became famous. Other early bands featuring Springsteen have recordings featured on bootlegs of varying quality.

Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973)

Springsteen's first major label release, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., was released in 1973. While the album failed to achieve commercial success upon initial release, it was quickly hailed as a masterpiece.

From the sessions for this album, there are 8 confirmed unreleased tracks. "Mary, Queen of Arkansas", "Growin' Up", "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street" and an early version of "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City" were released on the Tracks box set. 

The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle (1973)

Springsteen's second album, The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, similarly to his first album, was met with critical acclaim but poor sales. It is often regarded as one of his best albums.

It is known that about 11 tracks were cut from the final product. It is thought that Springsteen had a much bigger, more ambitious album in mind, but Columbia was not happy with it because of the lackluster sales from his first album. Of the 11 discluded tracks, "Zero and Blind Terry", "Thundercrack", "Seaside Bar Song", and "Santa Ana" were all included on Tracks. An additional track, "The Fever", was included on another collection of unreleased tracks titled 18 Tracks. "Phantoms", a song that has yet to circulate, was reworked into "Zero and Blind Terry". Two other outtakes, "Vibes Man" and "New York Song", were combined to create "New York City Serenade".

Born to Run (1975)

Born To Run is Bruce Springsteen's third and most famous album. Released in 1975, it is viewed as responsible for his massive success.

Early Springsteen albums presented listeners with difficult subject matter, non-standard chord progressions, production that was alien to pop/rock music at the time, and, most notably, slightly unintelligible lyrics. Because of these elements, his first two albums bombed financially, though were met with critical praise. Columbia Records was starting to lose faith that Springsteen could provide suitable income. They almost dropped him, but he offered to create a smash hit.

The album started on a 6-month deadline but took 14 months to record, with 6 months spent on the title track alone. Springsteen was left stressed, constantly writing songs and then rejecting them. Some of these songs received months of work, frustrating and disappointing to the members of The E Street Band. According to Springsteen himself, the album was incredibly difficult for him, as he had many ideas that were clear in his head but incredibly vague when he presented them to his fellow musicians. The total track listing remains unknown, but 9 tracks ended up on the final album and a known 7 tracks were left unreleased.

Born To Run was financially successful and is now featured on dozens of "Greatest Albums of All Time" lists alongside Born in the U.S.A.. Of the 7 known rejected tracks, only 4 have been released in any form. "Linda Let Me Be the One" and "So Young and in Love" were featured on the Tracks box set and two rough mixes of "Lonely Night in the Park" and "Walking in the Street" were broadcast in 2005 on E Street Radio as part of the 30th anniversary celebration for the album. The other 3 have never circulated. However, a few reworkings recorded by the band in later years have surfaced. One of the songs, "Janey Needs A Shooter" was a regular acoustic live track in his shows from as early as 1972 and was recorded for the album. The track remains unreleased, but a 1978 rehearsal version can easily be found on YouTube and it later became a Warren Zevon track.

Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

After the success of Born to Run, Springsteen followed it up with a darker, more dramatic effort. Following the same production formula of its predecessor, Darkness on the Edge of Town proved to be a moderate success and landed him with more glowing reviews. Just like the previous 3 albums, this is regarded as a masterpiece.

Unlike many of his other albums, he was proud of even the deleted material. There were a reported 21 tracks left off the album. While a few tracks were released on Tracks, Springsteen released a multi-disc expanded version of the album titled The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story in 2010.

If any other tracks exist, they are unknown to the general public. This is one of the few albums by Bruce that has all tracks officially released.

The River (1980)

To kick the decade off, Springsteen released his first double album, The River, noted for its mix of frivolous tracks next to the solemn. As with the four before it, critics have regarded it as a masterpiece.

Originally, The River was supposed to be a single album called The Ties That Bind, but this was later abandoned in favor of the released double-disc set. An alternate version of "Stolen Car" appeared on Tracks and most of them appeared on The River. Three unreleased tracks, "Held Up Without a Gun", "Be True" and "Roulette" became B-sides (the first two to The River singles, and the last one to a Tunnel of Love), and ten others, such as "Take 'Em As They Come" and "Loose Ends" appeared on Tracks, while "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)" appeared on The Essential Bruce Springsteen. Also included in the sessions for The River was the still-unreleased-as-of-yet "Cindy" and a rockabilly version of "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)", as well as four tracks that would later be recorded by Gary U.S. Bonds, like "Your Love" (not to be confused with The Outfield song of the same name).