The Promise - Studio Sessions - Details

Details

DYING IN THE STREET - V1 5:48 DO-3 / LM-3 / UP / AM
RACING IN THE STREET - V2 6:42 LM-3 / UP
RACING IN THE STREET - V3a 6:44 ODM / HOD / UP / AM
RACING IN THE STREET - V3b 6:51 DARKNESS
RACING IN THE STREET - V4a 6:16 LM-2 / DDO / DO-2 / UP / LMEC2 / DDOC / AM
RACING IN THE STREET ('78) - V4b 6:47 PROMISE

Note: V1, "Dying In The Street", a solo piano take that contains those words, and then, "Look at me, it’s true, baby, what else can we do", was recorded July 2, 1977 at Atlantic Studios. According to the Lost Masters III liner notes, V2 was recorded in August 1977, and studio logs show takes on 8 different days at either Atlantic Studios or The Record Plant during the month. The comp. reel for the official album release V3b came on August 30, 1977. However, Bruce returned to his composition in V4a ,with a stunning alternate band arrangement with wailing harmonica and tremendous vocal, recorded between November28 and 30, 1977 at The Record Plant. The officially released V4b, titled "Racing In The Street ('78)" on The Promise CD, utilizes a different 1977 vocal take and runs longer, but otherwise is identical to v4a. David Lindley plays modern violin, as he did on "Come On", back in 1977. Work continued on December 6 and 9; studio logs also show mixing sessions at The Record Plant from March 21 thru 23, 1978. Mix take 46 went on Darkness. Bruce adapted the lines "summer's here and the time is right / for goin' racing in the street" from Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing In The Street".

GOTTA GET THAT FEELING - V1 3:00 LM-2 / DDO / DO-2 / MT1 / AM
GOTTA GET THAT FEELING - V2 3:21 DDITV / AM
GOTTA GET THAT FEELING - V3 3:15 PROMISE

Note: V1 recorded at Atlantic Studios on August 12, 1977. V2 is more fully realized. Up-tempo, pop-flavored, recorded at either Atlantic or Record Plant on August 30, 1977. The officially released V3 contains a modern vocal take, replacing the unfinished vocal found on the V2 'Deep Down In the Vaults' recording. First two versions bootlegged for years under the title "Get That Feeling".

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN - V1 2:25 DDO / DO-1 / LES / MT1 / AM / EC
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN - V2 2:16 PROMISE

Note: V1 recorded at Atlantic Studios on June 1, 1977, a year before the Buddy Holly Story came out. This is a very rough early take with an uneven mix, but the scheme of Springsteen singing a line, then muttering under his breath, is unique and pretty good if you listen to it enough. "So now (the times that we had), I ain't sorry (feeling just too mad), You walk real pretty and you talk real fine, but night after night we're on the line, my life's the same story, again and again, I'm on the outside looking in". V2 is more produced, the lyrics re-written and some of the magic gone, but still packs a punch. Recorded September 27, 1977 at The Record Plant, it did not circulate until it was released (said to be untouched) on "The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story" in 2010. Springsteen is pissed, "You've got all the answers, you and your friends, I'm on the outside looking in", and the final verse, "Those pretty eyes that they all adore, but baby not me, not anymore, I do what I want to, I'll be what I am, I'm on the outside looking in". Performed live once, in December 2010, when "The Promise" was released. Why? Everybody knows the song by now, it has been bootlegged numerous times for over thirty years; who knows, the crowd might sing along.

SOMEDAY (TONIGHT) - V1 4:43 LM-3 / AM
SOMEDAY (WE'LL BE TOGETHER) - V2 5:32 PROMISE

Note: V1, bootlegged with the title "Someday Tonight", and recorded on September 26 or 29-30, 1977 at The Record Plant. This backing track circulated for 15 years, until V2 was released on "The Promise" box set in 2010. This is not a Darkness outtake, because nothing or very little was recorded in 1977. Modern vocal take, backing vocals by the Alliance Singers (Tiffeny Andrews, Corinda Crawford, Michelle Moore, and Antoinette Savage), who contributed choir vocals on The Rising album, in addition to Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell.

ONE WAY STREET - V1 5:46 LM-2 / LMEC2 / AM
ONE WAY STREET - V2 4:16 PROMISE

Note: V1 Recorded at Atlantic Studios on June 17, 1977. This is a complete take but it’s clearly not a final take. V2 officially released on The Promise with what appears to be a modern vocal. It is also likely that the horns were re-recorded as well. Original alternative title may have been "Dead End".

BECAUSE THE NIGHT (Belongs To Lovers) - V1 3:17 DO-3 / UP / AM
BECAUSE THE NIGHT - V2 - fade in 2:32 LM-3 / UP / AM
BECAUSE THE NIGHT - V3 3:19 DO-2 / DDO / DDOC / ESRR
BECAUSE THE NIGHT - V4 3:22 PROMISE

Note: V1 was recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York on June 1, 1977 with the lyrics not finished. V2 was recorded July 1, 1977 at Atlantic Studios, and is less embryonic but still with some unfinished lyrics. Springsteen cut his last take on September 27, 1977 V3. It is not clear if this was a demo for Patti Smith. The transfer of the song was completely orchestrated by Jimmy Iovine, who, in his own words, “was engineering Darkness and producing Easter at the same time. Now, Bruce was very understanding and very flexible, because he realized that this was my first real break as a producer. Anyway, one night whilst we were lounging around the Hotel Navarro in New York I told Bruce I desperately wanted a hit with Patti, that she deserved one. He agreed. As he had no immediate plans to put ‘Because The Night’ on an album, I said why not give it to Patti. Bruce replied, "If she can do it, she can have it." Iovine brought Smith the September 27 demo of the song, and Smith added her own lyrics, recording it for her album Easter, and scoring her first and biggest hit single. The officially released V4 uses Smith's lyrics and is a modern vocal take.

WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET - V1 3:52 DDO / DO-2 / LES / MT1 / AM
WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET - V2 3:31 PROMISE

Note: V1 recorded at The Record Plant on October 14, 1977. This is a fully finished performance but the circulating audio is marred by the vocal being buried in the mix (a flaw in the bootleg audio source). The officially released V2 has what is most likely a modern vocal take. Originally bootlegged with the title "Endless Night". The very strange, seemingly unrelated alternative title for this was "English Sons". Parts bear resemblance to "Loose Ends".

THE BROKENHEARTED - V1 uncirculating
THE BROKENHEARTED - V2 5:16 PROMISE

Note: Recorded at the Record Plant on November 29, 1977 and officially released on The Promise. Contains a vintage vocal take with some modern parts, plus a modern horn section consisting of Barry Danielian (trumpet), Stan Harrison (tenor sax), Dan Levine (trombone), Ed Manion (baritone sax) and Curt Ramm (trumpet). Originally known from circulating audio of a Darkness tour rehearsal in May 1978.

RENDEZVOUS - V1 2:47 DDO / DO-3 / LES / MT1 / AM
RENDEZVOUS - V2 uncirculating
RENDEZVOUS - live 2:51 TRACKS
RENDEZVOUS - V3 2:36 PROMISE

Note: The same night Springsteen introduced "Something In the Night" at the Monmouth County Arts Center, Red Bank, NJ, he also played "Rendezvous" for the first time. He played it 50 times from that August 1, 1976 night to the end of the Lawsuit Tour on March 25, 1977. When the Darkness sessions began on June 1, it was one of the ten songs recorded that evening, and additional takes were logged on June 2, 3, 8 and 17, 1977, all at Atlantic Studios. One of these was V1, an otherwise good take, but the audio is marred by a vocal drop-out during the first verse. "Rendezvous" was not played again during the sessions, and not included on the album. In a 1978 interview, Springsteen said the song was kept off because it didn’t fit thematically. Bruce personally demonstrated the song to artist Greg Kihn in October 1978, who soon after recorded a cover (released in April 1979). A live-version was used for Tracks, which may indicate Bruce wasn't satisfied with the available studio versions. The officially released V3, released on "The Promise:The Darkness On the Edge of Town Story", has lead vocals recorded in 2010 overdubbed on the 1977 backing track, which though poorly matched, illustrates the lengths Springsteen was willing to go to issue a satisfactory version (in his eyes).

CANDY'S BOY - V1 5:03 PROMISE: VAULT
CANDY'S BOY - V2 5:22 LM-2 / DO-2 / LMEC2 / DDOC / LES / MT1 / DDO
CANDY'S BOY - V3 4:48 LM-3 / DO-3 / AM / ATEOD
CANDY'S BOY - V4 5:12 ESRR
CANDY'S BOY - V5 4:31 PROMISE

Note: "(I Will Forever Be) Candy’s Boy", or simply "Candy’s Boy", was composed shortly after the Born to Run tour concluded in 1976. V1 is a summer 1976 band rehearsal at Bruce's house in Holmdel, NJ (referred to as Telegraph Hill), and is included on the Thrill Hill Vault DVD/Blu-ray in The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story box set. V2 was recorded in June 1977 at Atlantic Studios, New York, and sounds complete in all respects; several mixes exist. V3, V4 and V5 are also thought to be from later in June; the last two dates in the studio logs, August 24 and September, are designated as mixing and overdub sessions. The officially released V5, released in 2010 on the The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story, adds "My Sweet Love" to his vows, but is just another mix. The October 1977 Album 4 sequence entitled "Badlands", which had included "Candy's Boy", was withdrawn, and "Candy's Boy" was never played again. In mid-September, a decision was made to re-organize "The Fast Song" into "Candy's Room", with the first verse of "Candy's Boy" incorporated, along with lines from "Frankie". Other elements were exported to a new composition, "Prove It All Night" (the dynamo) on September 14, and "Drive All Night" (Well there’s machines and there’s fire Waiting for us on the edge of town) also received verses.

SAVE MY LOVE V1 3:19 PROMISE: VAULT
SAVE MY LOVE V2 2:39 PROMISE

Note: V2 is a completely modern take of this song, recorded July 22, 2010 at Colts Neck, is included on The Promise. It appears it was never recorded in the studio. V1 is a summer 1976 band rehearsal filmed by Barry Rebo in Holmdel, NJ and is included on the Thrill Hill Vault DVD/Blu-ray on The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story box set.

WHAT'S THE MATTER LITTLE DARLIN' - V1 3:49 DROC2 / RRR
WHAT'S THE MATTER LITTLE DARLIN' - V2 4:06 DDITV / MT1 / AM / DROC2
AIN'T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU - V3a 4:01 PROMISE
AIN'T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU - V3b 1:49 PROMISE: VAULT

Note: V2 first appeared in the 1990s, on "Deep Down In the Vaults" as "What's The Matter Little Darling", the name it was known by for years. V1, is a recording on "The Definitive River Outtakes Collection Volume 2" with the same name, faster pitch, and inferior quality, that runs 15 seconds slower. In the studio logs of the Darkness sessions, there are no records of "Ain't Good Enough For You" or "What's The Matter Little Darling". Author Clinton Heylin, who is very experienced in the matters, believes takes were recorded on September 26, 1977 at the Record Plant, under the name, "First New Rocker". The first official appearance of this song was on CD2 of "The Promise: The Making Of Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story" as "Ain't Good Enough For You", and he makes the good point that on the accompanying Thrill Hill Vault DVD (V3b), Bruce is shown trying to add a vocal overdub to an already existing track at the Record Plant, which suggests it had been recorded earlier. V3A has more developed lyrics than V2, including "getting cool like Jimmy Iovine" and "Sherry Darlin" party noises. This song bears some slight resemblance to "This Little Girl", the hit song Bruce donated to Gary U.S. Bonds in 1980.

FIRE - V1 5:14 LM-2 / DDO / DO-2 / MT1 / AM
FIRE - V2 4:05 PROMISE

Note: Written in May 1977, a few days after Bruce and Steve attended an Elvis Presley concert in Philadelphia. V1 (which is not a final take) comes from June 17, 1977 at Atlantic Studios. Introducing the song on November 20, 1978 in Champaign, IL, Bruce said "this is a song I wrote, oh, we jammed it up in the studio one night in twenty minutes". Allegedly (and this may be myth) a finished demo take was sent to Elvis Presley in July or August 1977, shortly before his death, with the hope that Elvis might cover it. Bruce ended up donating the song to Robert Gordon, who recorded his cover (with Bruce on piano) in early December 1977 (released April 1978). The Pointer Sisters then quickly covered Gordon’s released version and had the major international smash hit in early 1979. Springsteen's girlfriend at the time, Lynn Goldsmith (the photographer who later got the boot at one of his shows), wrote in her book that he was upset about their success; a better word would be jealous. After he had seven top ten singles from Born In the USA, she did not call a press conference to announce he felt better. The officially released V2 was partly recorded in 1977, and partly recorded in 2010.

SPANISH EYES - V1 3:42 LM-3 / DO-2 / MT1 / AM
NEW SPANISH - V2 6:14 DDO /DO-3 / AM / DDOC
SPANISH EYES - V3 3:47 PROMISE

Note: V1 studio logs indicate takes were recorded on June 30, 1977 at Atlantic Studios. V2 is more developed, but still needs work on lyrics. The logs say a song called "New Spanish" was recorded on July 13, 1977; one assumes that is "Spanish Eyes". The officially released V3 has a modern vocal, and potentially some modern band elements. A great song that shares several lyrics with "I'm On Fire".

JON'S JAM - V1 uncirculating
IT'S A SHAME - V2 3:12 PROMISE

Note: An unknown composition before the official release of The Promise. V1, recorded June 14, 1977 at Atlantic Studios, features Jon Landau on drums, and Bob Chirmside (Bruce's road manager between '75 and '81) on bass; V2 overdubs a modern horn section of Barry Danielian (trumpet), Stan Harrison (tenor sax), Dan Levine (trombone), Ed Manion (baritone sax) and Curt Ramm (trumpet). Early working title may be "Jon's Jam", as found in the studio logs. Music later adapted for "Prove It All Night", according to Bruce. Brucebase mini-editorial: If Southside Johnny and Gary US Bonds had heard a demo of this, they would have been fighting it out in the parking lot for who got to record it.

COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) - V1 uncirculating
COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) - V2 2:07 DO-3 / UP / SC / LUTHER
COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) - V3 2:10 LM-3 / LMEC2 / AM / UP
COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) - V4 2:09 DDO / DO-1 / UP / DDOC / LES
COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) - V5 2:16 PROMISE
THE FACTORY SONG - V6a 2:20 ODM / HOD / UP
THE FACTORY SONG - V6b 2:15 AM
FACTORY - V6c 2:15 DARKNESS
COME ON (LET'S GO TONIGHT) II - V1 2:32 FFOD / HNWB

Note: "Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)" was written in the Spring of 1977, and V1 was cut on June 1, 1977, complete with Vox [organ], at Atlantic Studios, on the first night of the Darkness sessions. The band picked up the rhythm quickly, but Bruce had much work to do on the lyrics. V2 is the earliest take we have in circulation, a rough workout, from either July 2 or 13 at Atlantic Studios, but further progress was needed on the lyrics. At this point, Bruce had written, "Well a man and he lost his only wife, He walks down the streets, babe, with death in his eyes, Well everybody wants heaven, but nobody wants to die, Come on, come on, lets go tonight." Two out of three verses had "death in their eyes". "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)" V3 represented a sudden shift; though it retained it's name (Sony logs show all sessions to the end of 1977 under this name), the lyrics were radically rewritten to the story of Douglas Springsteen, Bruce's father, who worked at a machine factory under harsh conditions. A well-known interview quote from Bruce, "I remember my old man was working in this plastics factory…and all I remember, when we used to go in that place, was him standing near ’em loud fucking machines". Now he sang "Factory takes his hearing, but he understands", but the third verse was the outcome of working under these conditions, "End of the day, factory whistle cries, Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes, And you just better believe, boy, somebody's gonna get hurt tonight, It's the working, the working, just the working life". It is possible that Bruce worked with both ideas for a while, but after September, all energies went toward "the Factory Song", though it was not named this until January 2, 1978. The only thing that remained from "Come On" was "death in their eyes". The new lyrics were worked on August 23, 24 and 30, and September 8, 1977 at the Record Plant. Also starting now was Roy Bittan playing his piano Floyd Cramer style to give it a Chet Atkins produced-country feel. Danny's organ was not in the mix at this point. V4 from November 2, 7, and 8, 1977 features violin overdubs by David Lindley, a well-known musician who played with Jackson Browne. V5, released on the "The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story" box set in 2010, is the finished take of "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)", with 2010 overdubs of David Lindley's violin. It is not known if there is a 1977 version of "Come On" with Lindley, though it could have been done easily enough, and it is not confirmed that V5 was completed in 1977. It still has it's first verse, modified by two words, "Put on your black dress baby, and put your hair up right, there's a party way down in factory town tonight, I'll be going down there if you need a ride, Come on, come on, let's go tonight", and adds the part about Elvis died (August 16, 1977), which had not been on any 1977 outtakes, until now. It is otherwise stripped of it's original lyrics, which went to "Factory", along with it's music, which is borrowed for the Promise take. The vocal is vintage, but the recording date has not been determined. The other parts of the song could easily have been assembled from existing tracks. V6 came from December 9 and 29, 1977, and overdub/mixing sessions on January 2, March 10 and 14, 1978, all at the Record Plant. The 1978 sessions were under the name "The Factory Song". Danny recorded new organ tracks which featured prominently in the final album version 6c. Bruce recorded new vocals, and changed, "Factory takes his hearing, but he understands" to "Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life". V6c is mix take 28 from April 3, 1978, and it was pressed to metal acetate with the title "Factory Song" on April 12, 1978.

What ever happened to "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)"? In March 1981, Bruce wrote new music and recorded a demo at his home in Colts Neck, NJ, that can be found on Nebraska bootlegs, "Fistfull of Dollars" and "How Nebraska Was Born" under the incorrect name, "Bye Bye Johnny". A dark, foreboding arrangement used the discarded lyrics, including the part about Elvis dying, and became a Nebraska-style song, "Come On (Let's Go Tonight) II" V1. However, Springsteen decided to dump it once more, combining several lines, the Elvis part, new verses, and the first two lines from Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny", to create "Johnny Bye-Bye".

TALK TO ME - V1a 3:59 LM-2 / DO-1 / ATEOD / AM
TALK TO ME - V1b 4:05 DDO / DDOC / UP
TALK TO ME - V2 4:17 PROMISE

Note: V1a and V1b are takes recorded on July 8 or 13, 1977, at Atlantic Studios, both basic backing tracks without vocals or horns, which were not added, along with the lyrics, until August. Final demo takes were recorded on October 14 of both "Talk to Me" V2 and "Hearts Of Stone", and the tapes were given to Steve Van Zandt for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes' 3rd album, which Steve was producing. 5 takes were recorded at either Atlantic Studios or The Record Plant on August 5, 9, 24, 26 and 30, before it was realized that Talk To Me would never fit the Darkness theme, and they all currently remain in the vault. The October 14 track was used for The Promise in 2010, with modern horns added featuring original Jukes/Miami Horns members Rick Gazda on trumpet, Stan Harrison on tenor sax, Ed Manion on baritone sax, Bob Muckin on trumpet, and Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg on trombone. There is a vocalist who joins in at the final refrain that sounds like modern Southside Johnny, but this is not confirmed. Both songs handed to Steve that day went on the album 'Hearts Of Stone', released on October 13, 1978 by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (Epic JE 35488), which is overwhelmingly considered their best record, and ranks on several polls of best albums of the 1970s. According to Max Weinberg, who played on both "Darkness" and "Hearts of Stone", the E Street Band backing tracks included on Steve's tape were utilized for Southside Johnny's album. Bruce has performed it with the Jukes and the E Street Band over the years to great response, and it possibly would have been a big hit if Bruce Springsteen was going for the top of the charts in 1978, but that would have to wait another 7 years.

THE LITTLE THINGS (MY BABY DOES) - V1 uncirculating
THE LITTLE THINGS (MY BABY DOES) - V2 3:15 PROMISE

Note: Unknown composition until officially released on The Promise. Possibly some modern band elements, but maybe not. The vocal is difficult to evaluate, because Bruce doesn't sing songs that require this kind of vocal range. It is hard to envision modern Bruce hitting these notes, then again he sings slowly and methodically. This was recorded on a busy day before the crew broke for a short vacation. Independence Day take 3, The Way take 6, The Little Things (My Baby Does) take 6, I Got My Eyes On You take 14, and All Night take 13 were all from August 15, 1977. There is a Ruffs tape prepared for Bruce to listen to on his trip (to Utah-Nevada, where Eric Meola shot the cover of "The Promise".

BREAK AWAY - V1 uncirculating
BREAKAWAY - V2 5:26 PROMISE

Note: "Break Away" (how it was spelled) was recorded the first night of the Darkness sessions, June 1, 1977, and never worked on again. No idea if any part of this take was used in the Promise release, because modern vocals, modern horns and modern singers have completely smothered any evidence. Features a modern horn section of Barry Danielian (trumpet), Stan Harrison (tenor sax), Dan Levine (trombone), Ed Manion (baritone sax) and Curt Ramm (trumpet) and backing vocals by the Alliance Singers (Tiffeny Andrews, Corinda Crawford, Michelle Moore, and Antoinette Savage), who contributed choir vocals on The Rising album, in addition to Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell. There is at least one copy of Breakaway recorded at Atlantic Studios June 1977 somewhere, would be great to hear it. This hybrid version on the Promise sounds nothing like the other recordings circulating from that time period by Bruce Springsteen. This is NOT an outtake.

THE PROMISE - V1 5:32 DO-2 / UP / SOTE / LUTHER
THE PROMISE - V2 5:27 LM-2 / DDO / DO-3 / AM / UP / SC
THE PROMISE - V3 7:11 DDITV / AM / UP / MT1
THE PROMISE - V4 7:24 PROMISE: DELUXE
THE PROMISE (strings-full harmony) - V5 private
THE PROMISE (solo) - V6 uncirculating
THE PROMISE - V7 uncirculating
THE PROMISE - V8 uncirculating
THE PROMISE - V9 4:41 18TRACKS
THE PROMISE - V10 5:49 PROMISE
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Note: Introduced August 3, 1976 at Monmouth Arts Center, Red Bank, New Jersey, with Bruce singing and playing piano without the E Street Band, with deeply personal lyrics. 'The Promise' soon became the highlight of each show, and the major subject of discussion among Bruce's tight cult following, which would make up most of the modest crowd in those days. It would always be one of the last songs played for the night, the lights would go down, and one spotlight would be on Bruce playing piano, which he rarely did otherwise. Later, Roy or Danny would accompany him on glock. It was played live 22 times during the Lawsuit tour, until the first studio demo was recorded at Atlantic Studios on June 1, 1977. V1 was one of the takes recorded on June 30, July 1, 7, 8 and 13, 1977. After a break that included a trip with Steve to Utah and Nevada, Bruce came back with slightly revised lyrics, and recorded V2 on August 24, which then added dubs and mixing on August 30, 1977, completed on the last day of operations at Atlantic Studios. On September 28, 1977 at the Record Plant, V3, considered the definitive version by collectors and long-time fans, was recorded, clocking in at 7:10 with the full E Street Band, and first released unofficially on 'Deep Down In the Vaults'. However, Bruce found it lacking for some reason, and in late September-early October, after a Rolling Stone reporter suggested the song was actually about the lawsuit, he re-wrote the first two lines of verse 3 with, "Well, my daddy taught me how to walk quiet and how to make my peace with the past, I learned real good to tighten up inside and I don’t say nothing unless I’m asked'. These lines replaced "I won big once and I hit the coast, oh but somehow I paid the big cost", and Landau agreed this solidified the narrative, and that 'The Promise' deserved to be on the January 16 album sequence. Album #4 was still untitled, but "Badlands" or "American Madness" were the two front runners. The new sequence had 'Badlands' as the opener, and 'The Promise' as the album closer. Instead of 'Streets of Fire', 'The Way' was in the third slot on side two, and 'Don't Look Back' followed 'Badlands'. The two songs missing, that we know made it on the final lineup, were 'Factory', which Bruce had just started calling, "The Factory Song". He had been using the working title, 'Come On, Come On (Let's Go Tonight)' since June 1977, despite re-writing the lyrics in July, to tell the tale of his dad and the horrible plastics factory he had worked in when Bruce was a child. On January 2, 1978, final takes were completed, though Springsteen spent March 10 and most of the 14th on final mixes, and recording his own vocal overdubs. The other missing song was 'Darkness On the Edge of Town', which had not been worked since June 1977, and appeared to be all but forgotten. It should be noted that at no point does he ever seem to have considered calling the LP "The Promise" (per Clinton Heylin).

January 12 was the big day when the final takes of 'The Promise' V4 were to be completed. The proceedings were shot live in-the-studio by Barry Rebo, and one of the takes was released on the Thrill-Hill Blu-Ray/DVD2, in 2010 on the box set, 'The Promise:The Darkness On the Edge Of Town Story'. Springsteen fussed over mixing and dubbing for days after this, and was planning to add strings (according to Landau, a ‘string’ version was cut V5). Finally on January 24, 1978, without the E Street Band around, he sat down at the piano and recorded V6 of 'The Promise' by himself, just like he did during the Lawsuit tour for 22 nights, when he was locked out of the recording studio. A Ruffs tape (see illustration above) provided to Springsteen by his engineer, Jimmy Iovine, mixed on February 17, had the September 28, 1977 V3 recording featuring the "Old verse", followed by the January 12 session with the "New Verse" V4, and V5, the strings and "full harmony" version, which was cut in mid-January. There is no doubt that he cared deeply about 'the Promise', as a total of 10 sessions were held from January 17 to March 7 (seven week period). Later saying he still ‘felt too close to it’, at a certain point in March, he decided that another contender would go on the album in it's place. It was quietly removed from the April track sequence, and the masters placed in the Columbia Vault.

But at the Darkness Tour rehearsals in Asbury Park on May 19, 1978, Bruce and the band played the "daddy taught me how to walk quiet" version of 'The Promise', and it was in the setlist on opening night in Buffalo. As the tour continued, 'The Promise' would be on the setlist around every other night, usually part of the encore, with Bruce by himself on piano, which was a spine-tingling experience for fans. After playing it 22 out of the first 33 shows, he sang it on July 15, 1978 in Houston, Texas, and then, for unknown reasons, never played it again.

That is, until a huge fan uproar, when 'The Fever' and 'The Promise' were both left off of 'Tracks' in 1998. Instead of releasing V3 or V5, he re-recorded 'The Promise' from scratch on February 9 and 12, 1999 at Boxwood Studios, located at his home in Rumson, New Jersey. V9 was released on April 12, 1999 on '18 Tracks', to the dismay of many long-time fans. He made his case to Charlie Rose, "Basically, I went back and I listened to it and we never really got a good recording of it in my opinion. It’s been a favorite song of a lot of..a lot of people mention it. It sort of was the sequel to “Thunder Road” in some fashion, it referred back to those characters. But I went back and we sort of had a very plodding, heavy-handed version of it. I couldn’t quite live with it, so maybe another time." However, he liked it enough to use it as the base track for V10, officially released on Disc 2 of 'The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story' in 2010, with overdubbed strings, guitars, glock, double tracked vocals, and backing vocals by himself, with modern vocals and musical elements recorded in July 2010 by assistant engineers Kevin Buell and Rob Lebret. Instead of replacing two lines of verse 3, two lines were deleted, "I followed that dream through the southwestern tracks, the dead ends and the two-bit bars, when the promise was broken I was far away from home sleeping in the backseat of a borrowed car". The lines were removed with slick editing, under a "Phil Spector-like Wall of Sound", consisting of layers of overdubs, and a modern string arrangement by Ken Ascher. In addition to making 'The Promise' family friendly, they succeeded in reducing the time of the track from 7:11 to 5:49. This version, along with other 1977 songs on "The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story", that many customers were familiar with, and had been looking forward to sonic improvements over their bootleg collections, now were hearing overdubbed Mexican horns, choirs, modern vocals, and assorted instruments, drowning out the base tracks created by the E Street Band 33 years ago. An uproar was created on message boards that has continued for years, as customers learn production details that have never been announced or printed. Thanks to Eddy Wehbe for spotting version 3 underneath the thick layer of overdubs, and discogs for the extra details, and the support of contributors on BTX, SPL, Hoffman Music Forums and Greasy Lake for helping to identify the key issues.

Springsteen said later it was ultimately rejected for Darkness due to the personal lyrics. "It was a song about defeat, and it was self-referential, which made me uncomfortable", said Springsteen in 2010. "I didn’t want it to overtake the album, which, in the end, was not my personal story. I wanted ‘Darkness’ to be completely independent of that. So I left it off. But I remember saying to myself, 'This is something I can sing later.' The distance really helps it now”. Regardless of what is said, Bruce was very upset and feeling betrayed by his first manager, Mike Appel, when he wrote the Promise. He blamed the lawsuit on himself, and wrote about a lonely, loveless, loser whose spirit had finally been broken. In verse 2 he sang "Once I had a girl who loved me so, I guess I'd loved her too if I had the sense, but somehow I can never let myself go, my love is no good in the end, Cause it's a loser, I'm gonna sit by this window 'til things work out all right…" Many of us have had moments like this in our lives, but we are incapable of expressing them with clarity and honesty in a song, and though Bruce was just having a bad day or month, his words really hit home for some. You have to at least admire his bravery, to sing his innermost feelings in front of friends and 15,000 strangers. He re-wrote the lyrics extensively after that August 3, 1976 night, and played the new version on September 29, 1976, "All my life I fought that fight that no one man can ever win, every day it just keeps getting harder to live the dreams I'm believing in, Thunder Road, I stay up every morning until it's light". Amazing, those are the same words he used in his first studio takes in 1977. He did not call himself a loser again until 1982, when he wrote about Frank Davis in the "Losin' Kind."

There are many, including that core group of fans who had him to themselves back in 1976-78, that believe "The Promise" is Bruce's greatest song. Perhaps a record was never meant to hold it.

CITY OF NIGHT - V1 3:04 DDO / DO-1 / AM / UP / LES / MT1
CITY OF NIGHT - V2 2:56 PROMISE

Note: V1 recorded October 14, 1977 at The Record Plant under working title "Taxi Driver"; also known as "Taxi Cab" and "City At Night". V2 officially released on The Promise; if it sounds a little shorter, one reason is that the intro is cut in half, with two reps instead of the original four. Organ is added in 3rd verse (don't know if this is modern or a different take or mix from 1977), and sax is turned up in this mix at the fadeout, which is an improvement, and still vintage.

THE WAY - V1a 3:49 URT-1 / AM / UP / GT
THE WAY - V1b 3:59 URT-1 / DO-2 / DDO / AM / UP / MT1
THE WAY - V1c 3:41 PROMISE

Note: If all three of these recordings are different mixes of same take, then The Way was recorded August 15, 1977, take 6. Takes recorded at either Atlantic or Record Plant on August 5 and 15, and at The Record Plant on September 12, 1977. Mixing for the album was done February 10-12, 1978, but never used for Darkness. V1c is slightly faster, and officially released on The Promise, albeit as a hidden bonus track. Considered and rejected for Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Tracks and The Essential.

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