Don't Look Back

DON'T LOOK BACK - V1 3:18 LM-2 / UP
DON'T LOOK BACK - V2 2:26 DO-3 / DDO / UP / DDOC / AM
DON'T LOOK BACK - V3 3:02 DO-3 / UP / AM
DON'T LOOK BACK - V4a 3:00 ODM / HOD / DDO / DDOC
DON'T LOOK BACK - V4b 3:02 PROMISE: VAULT / AM / DLB
DON'T LOOK BACK - V4c 2:56 TRACKS

Note: "Don't Look Back" was composed early in 1977, during the time Bruce was barred from the recording studio, so he practiced it live 12 times, from March 10, 1977 at Toldeo, Ohio, to the end of the Lawsuit Tour on March 25. The lyrics varied widely, and an excellent analysis can be found at springsteenlyrics.com. The case was settled, and the E Street Band entered Atlantic Studios, New York, on June 1, 1977. That night they recorded at least ten songs; “Rendezvous,” “Because the Night,” “I Wanna Be With You” and according to critic and author Dave Marsh, "the screaming rocker, Don't Look Back". Thom Panunzio, assistant engineer, said the session was recorded and transferred to a cassette they called “the Star Wars demo tape”. “That was an album, in my opinion, that was great from beginning to end,” Panunzio said. In a 2002 interview with Mark Binelli of Rolling Stone, Springsteen said, "We had great arrangements…the band sounded really good. We recorded about ten or twelve songs in one night, and I realized they weren’t any good. It was terribly disappointing…they were centerless, they were coreless, so I went back to the drawing board…"

Sony logs show takes were recorded on June 1, 6-8, 17 and 24, 1977. It is thought V1 and V2, which are instrumental backing tracks, were recorded on June 6-8, while V3 may be the "screaming rocker" from June 1; all were definitely recorded during June 1977. V4 was recorded at Atlantic Studios on July 2, 1977, and mixed (with possible overdubs) on February 28 and March 2, 1978 at the Record Plant. V4a is a widely bootlegged version with a prominent defect in the second verse, v4b sounds like the same take, complete with Springsteen's count-in, and v4c is the officially released version with the count-in removed. Don't Look Back was on the June 1977, October 1977 "Badlands", and the January 16, 1978 album sequences, and pressed onto an eleven-track acetate on April 12, 1978, but removed at the last-minute to ensure the album was not too long; another story says it was replaced by "Darkness on the Edge of Town", which is false, Darkness was on the final sequence and burned to the acetate.

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