BADLANDS - V1 4:07 LM-2 / DDO / DDOC / DO-3 / AM / UP
BADLANDS - V2 3:47 LM-3 / DDO / DDOC / DO-2 / UP
BADLANDS - V3 3:40 LM-3 / UP / AM / LMEC1
BADLANDS - V4a 3:57 ODM / HOD / AM
BADLANDS - V4b 3:59 uncirculating

Note: Unfortunately, very few outtakes circulate of "Badlands", although given Springsteen's recording methods at the time far more likely exists in the vault. The title came from Terrence Malick's 1973 movie Badlands (though Bruce had not seen the movie). In late June, the music had been composed, and was first played by the E Street Band on June 27, 1977 at Atlantic Studios. The song's opening riff, Springsteen revealed years later, is a major-key twist on the minor-key intro to the Animals' 1965 hit "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". V1 is an instrumental backing track; Max Weinberg said his opening drum part was suggested by Steve Van Zandt, and inspired by Motown. Bruce had a routine with his engineers to create 'Ruffs' tapes for him, so he could take instrumental or early recordings home and write lyrics. V2 had to be recorded on June 27, 30, or on July 11 or 13 at Atlantic Studios. Springsteen was working at Atlantic Studios on July 13, 1977, when the twenty-five-hour-long New York City blackout began; soon after, the opening lyric "lights out tonight" came into being. New takes, with developing lyrics, were recorded on August 24 and 30, 1977, but contrary to Lost Masters liner notes and many other sources, no outtakes circulate from these sessions.

It wasn't until November 1977, that Badlands was re-written with new lines, including "I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got" borrowed from "Iceman", about which Bruce later recalled, "That whole record was a record where I felt like I was going to have to test myself, and that was what I wanted to know, so that line ended up in a few different songs" (Los Angeles Times interview, 1998). Next, from a song by Elvis Presley from the 1962 movie Kid Galahad, King Of The Whole Wide World: "A poor man wants to be a rich man, a rich man wants to be a king, but the man who can sing when he hasn't got a thing, he's the king of the whole wide world." Bruce translated this to these Verse 2 lines: "Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything." Verse 3 was strengthened by "for the ones who once had a notion, it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive" from "Breakout".

V3 was recorded, perhaps on December 12, 1977 at the Record Plant, with many new pieces in place. Bruce is still yelling at "the man on the TV," but "Badlands" has started to take shape. The vocals for V4, the album version, were dubbed in during a three-day mixing marathon on February 22, 24 and 25, 1978. V4b has less double-tracked vocals than V4c, a last moment dubbing of Clarence Clemons's sax solo on April 11, which was pressed to acetate on April 12, 1978. Springsteen's initial excuse for almost leaving it off was that he believed the instrument evoked the city, leaving it out of place on an album set in something more like "the heartland"; he later admitted that "that would have been a major error."

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