1981 Solo - Studio Sessions


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Part One - Overview

The following solo acoustic practice recordings span about a 12-month period, from March 1981 - May 1982, although the majority of the material is from the last 3 months of 1981. They material can be broken down into four general groupings:

1) Recordings made at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ from late March to early April 1981 during a break in The River tour
2) Recordings made at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ in late June 1981 during a short break in The River tour
3) Recordings made at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ from mid-September 1981 thru May 1982 (mostly 1981) following the end of The River tour
4) Recordings made at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ from mid-September to December 1981 following the end of The River tour (featuring early development of many of the Nebraska songs)

These are not professionally made recordings. They were never intended to be. It appears Springsteen only used a common, run-of-the-mill cassette recorder. None of these songs exhibit a finished songwriting product. These are song fragments, both musically and lyrically. There is much stopping and starting heard, as Springsteen records bits and pieces, manually stops the recorder then returns sometime later to add more ideas…and so on and so forth.

These recordings can provide an interesting, though often monotonous, glimpse into how Bruce goes about his creative writing process. But very little of this material is listener-friendly and is probably not worth obtaining unless you're a die-hard completist. Springsteen definitely progressed some of these song fragments and ideas to completion – we have the studio end product to attest to that. However many of these titles are likely to have gone little further than what one hears on these tapes.

Part Two - Details (By Session)

1) Recorded at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ from late March to early April, 1981
FIST FULL OF DOLLARS - V1 3:44 FFOD / HNWB
FIST FULL OF DOLLARS - V2 2:24 FFOD / HNWB

Note: includes lyrics that would be utilised in "Atlantic City", as well as "Johnny Bye Bye".

RIDING HORSE - V1 0:40 FFOD / HNWB
RIDING HORSE - V2 0:50 FFOD / HNWB

Note:

COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) 2:32 FFOD / HNWB

Note: stunning - a dark, foreboding arrangement of the song previously recorded during the Darkness sessions. Soon after this demo was recorded Springsteen would combine his lyrics with the first two lines from Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny" to create "Johnny Bye-Bye". The composition was premiered live on May 13, 1981 in Manchester, England and later recorded in the studio during sessions for Born In The U.S.A. Note that this particular recording can often be found erroneously titled as "Bye Bye Johnny" on bootlegs.

ROBERT FORD AND JESSE JAMES 1:15 FFOD / HNWB

Note: just a snippet, with mostly unintelligible lyrics. A song called "Robert Ford" was recorded at the Power Station in April 1982.

PARTY LIGHTS 1:05 FFOD / HNWB

Note: rockabilly style, does not bear much resemblance to the slower take from The River sessions.

MY HEART IS AN OPEN BOOK 1:30 FFOD / HNWB

Note: early, embryonic take of a rather strange song.

DANGER ZONE 1:26 FFOD / HNWB

Note: aka "Let The Girl Go Home".

SUMMER NIGHT 1:15 FFOD / HNWB

Note:

LION'S DEN 0:55 FFOD / HNWB

Note: aka "Daniel In The Lion's Den". Just the chorus, repeated.

OPEN ALL NIGHT 1:24 FFOD / HNWB

Note: curious demo, the first two verses are from "Living On The Edge Of The World", the third from "This Hard Land".

2) Recorded at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ in late June 1981
ALL I NEED 2:50 LM-7

Note: also practiced with the band during soundcheck prior to the concert at Meadowlands Arena on July 8, 1981. A recording of this rehearsal can be found on Lost Masters 5. Eventually given to Gary U.S. Bonds.

FADE TO BLACK - V1 4:15 LM-7 / HNWB
FADE TO BLACK - V2 0.50 LM-7

Note: V1 is an early take. V2 is merely harmonies.

3) Recorded at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ from mid-September 1981 thru May 1982
FADE TO BLACK 0:45 LM-10

Note: The Lost Masters artwork claims that the content of Lost Masters X was recorded in early 1983 - this is somewhat unlikely given that the likes of "Glory Days" and "Wages Of Sin" were recorded at The Power Station in April and May of 1982, respectively. Late 1981-early 1982 is far more likely.

DOWNBOUND TRAIN 0.34 LM-10

Note: just harmonies, with no lyrical content.

TRUE LOVE IS HARD TO COME BY - V1 0:30 LM-10
TRUE LOVE IS HARD TO COME BY - V2 0.15 LM-10
TRUE LOVE IS HARD TO COME BY - V3 1:40 LM-10
TRUE LOVE IS HARD TO COME BY - V4 1:10 LM-10
TRUE LOVE IS HARD TO COME BY - V5 1:25 LM-10

Note: recorded January-April 1982. V3 is solely harmonies, V4 features lyrics similar to "Dollhouse". V5 has lyrics from "Janey Don't You Lose Heart". Recorded with the band in June 1983 during the Born In The USA sessions.

LONG WAY HOME (instrumental) 1:16 LM-10

Note: not much more than a repeated guitar riff.

UNTITLED (instrumental) 1:20 LM-10

Note: guitar riff and harmonies.

WAGES OF SIN - V1 2:00 LM-10
WAGES OF SIN - V2 0:20 LM-10
WAGES OF SIN - V3 3:05 LM-10
WAGES OF SIN - V4 2:20 LM-10
WAGES OF SIN - V5 5:10 LM-10

Note: an interesting group of takes recorded January-April 1982. V5 is most like the final version on Tracks.

WHEELS MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND 1:13 LM-10

Note: song in the early stages of development.

I NEED YOU - V1 2:00 LM-10
I NEED YOU - V2 0:46 LM-10

Note: V1 is a demo from January-April 1982, with incomplete, mumbled or unintelligible lyrics. V2 just contains background vocals.

THEY KILLED HIM IN THE STREET - V1 3:13 LM-10
THEY KILLED HIM IN THE STREET - V2 0:34 LM-10

Note: mostly bluffed or unintelligible lyrics. Evolved into the uncirculated outtake "Bells Of San Salvador" which was rehearsed with the band at Telegraph Hill in March/April 1982. See the Born In The USA - Studio Sessions page for more information. Title probably coined by the Lost Masters creators since it is the only audible lyric.

RULED BY THE GUN - V1 2:21 LM-10
RULED BY THE GUN - V2 1:27 LM-10
RULED BY THE GUN - V3 5:07 LM-10
RULED BY THE GUN - V4 0:39 LM-10

Note: V1 is an early workout, with some lyrics. V2 and V4 feature harmonies and guitar work, V3 is a longer take with more lyrics, although some are mumbled. From January-April 1982.

JESSE JAMES - V1 4:10 LM-10
JESSE JAMES - V2 1:39 LM-10

Note: no relation to "Jesse James" from the We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions album. May be related to "Robert Ford And Jesse James" which was demoed in early 1981. Some lyrics are eventually reused in "Outlaw Pete".

YOUR LOVE IS ALL AROUND ME - V1 5:51 LM-10
YOUR LOVE IS ALL AROUND ME - V2 3:18 LM-10
YOUR LOVE IS ALL AROUND ME - V3 0:49 LM-10

Note: reminiscent of "My Love Will Not Let You Down". Demos from January-April 1982, rehearsed with the band at Colts Neck in April before being cut at The Power Station in May 1982.

BABY I'M SO COLD 3:45 LM-10

Note: recorded January-April 1982. Music appears to be "Follow That Dream", with lyrics reminiscent of "Loose Ends". Contains some lyrics that would end up in "Janey Don't You Lose Heart". Rehearsed with the band at Colts Neck in April 1982 and subsequently recorded with the band at The Power Station in May 1982.

DON'T BACK DOWN 0:55 CAST

Note: brief demo of V10 of "Don't Back Down", track four of The Lost Masters XVI.

GLORY DAYS 1:59 LM-10

Note: very early demo from January-April 1982. Features the "my Dad." verse that was cut from the final album version, but appears on the "This Hard Land" and "Murder Incorporated" bootlegs.

JAMES LINCOLN DEAR 4:14 LMEC2

Note: aka "James Lincoln Deer(e)". Well-developed demo recorded January-April 1982 that would later evolve into "Richfield Whistle". Also worked on extensively in early 1983.

4) Recorded at Springsteen’s home in Colts Neck, NJ from mid-September to December 1981
CLUB SOUL CITY 0:55 FFOD / HNWB

Note: short take of not much more than the title, repeated. Subsequently recorded with the E Street Band and Gary U.S. Bonds for his On The Line album in early 1982.

VIETNAM - V1 3:15 FFOD / HNWB
VIETNAM - V2 2:00 FFOD / HNWB

Note: uses lyrics that will later be found in "Born In The USA" and "Shut Out The Light".

FADE TO BLACK - V1 3:01 FFOD / HNWB
FADE TO BLACK - V2 2:57 FFOD / HNWB

Note: much more developed than the take recorded in late June. Subsequently recorded with the band at The Power Station in May 1982.

LOVE IS A DANGEROUS THING 3:25 FFOD / HNWB

Note: well-developed demo. May have evolved into "When The Lights Go Out".

JOHNNY 99 - V1 3:50 FFOD / HNWB
JOHNNY 99 - V2 3:26 FFOD / HNWB

Note: V1 is similar to the released version, with some lyrical variations. V2 is closer still.

BORN IN THE U.S.A. - V1 2:22 FFOD / HNWB
BORN IN THE U.S.A. - V2 0:30 FFOD / HNWB
BORN IN THE U.S.A. - V3 4:45 FFOD / HNWB
BORN IN THE U.S.A. - V4 3:10 FFOD / HNWB
BORN IN THE U.S.A. - V5 2:55 FFOD / HNWB
BORN IN THE U.S.A. - V6 4:00 FFOD / HNWB

Note: V1 is wildly different from subsequent takes. V2 is when things start to get familiar, featuring the lyrics "Born baby in the USA, I believe in the American way". A fascinating glimpse at the development of a classic.

USED CARS - V1 3:17 FFOD / HNWB
USED CARS - V2 2:30 FFOD / HNWB
USED CARS - V3 2:45 FFOD / HNWB

Note: similar to the released version with some lyrical and melodic variations.

ATLANTIC CITY 1:40 FFOD / HNWB

Note: opening lines are similar to the album version. The rest is Bruce trying variations of the chorus.

DOWNBOUND TRAIN 1:11 FFOD / HNWB

Note: brief demo which includes the closing lines of both the Nebraska take and the final Born In The USA album version.

LOSIN' KIND 5:16 FFOD / HNWB

Note: aka "The Answer". Work-in-progress take of the song that would eventually be recorded during the Nebraska session in January 1982. This recording actually appears to be two consecutive takes of the final verses. Closing line of this take ".I hung my head and cried" can also be found in "Downbound Train".

RED RIVER ROCK (instrumental) 0:57 FFOD / HNWB

Note: Bruce whistling "Red River Rock" over a guitar backing.

NEBRASKA - V1 1:09 LM-1 / HNWB
NEBRASKA - V2 1:05 LM-1 / HNWB

Note: two takes of the introduction and first two lines.

PRECIOUS MEMORIES 1:10 LM-1 / HNWB

Note: warm-up of the traditional song which has also been covered by Bob Dylan.

DREAM BABY 0:32 LM-1 / HNWB

Note: just the refrain of the Roy Orbison classic.


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