Tracks Archival Release - Details


THE PROMISE - V1 5:35 DO-2 / UP / DDOC
THE PROMISE - V2 5:25 LM-2 / DDO / DO-3 / AM / UP / ATEOD
THE PROMISE - V4a 7:25 uncirculating
THE PROMISE - V5 uncirculating

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 , which then added dubs and mixing on August 24 and 30, 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 7:09 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 early in October, he re-wrote the first two lines of verse 3; "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 for "Badlands", or whatever they were going to call album #4. In fact, 'The Promise' was to be 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' to open the album. The two songs missing, that we know made it on the March 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 all day March 10 and 14 on final mixes, and 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.

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'. A Ruffs tape provided to Springsteen by his engineer, Jimmy Iovine, had the September 26, 1977 V3 recording featuring the "Old verse", followed by two mixes of the January 12 session with the "New Verse"; V4a had strings and "full harmony" overdubbed, while V4b just said "no strings". Springsteen fussed over mixing and dubbing for days, and finally on January 24, 1978, without the E Street Band around, he sat down at the piano and recorded V5 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. There is no doubt that he cared deeply about 'the Promise', but at a certain point in February, he decided that another contender would go on the album in it's place. It was quietly removed from the March track sequence, and the masters placed in the Columbia Vault. On March 8, 1978, Springsteen rounded up the E Street Band for an emergency session at the Record Plant, and over three days, they re-recorded 'Darkness On the Edge of Town' from scratch, and completed what would become the title track of the album. 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 they played it on opening night in Buffalo too. It was on the setlist every other night, usually part of the encore, with Bruce by himself on piano, which was 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, he 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, he re-recorded 'The Promise' from scratch on February 9-12, 1999 at Boxwood Studios, located at his home in Rumson, New Jersey. V6 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 V7, 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 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 7:06 to 5:54. 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. 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, not calling 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.

GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE 4:17 2002 'Kindred Spirits' Johnny Cash tribute album

Note: Written by Johnny Cash. Recorded at Thrill Hill East (Bruce's NJ home studio) in February 12, 1999 and produced by Springsteen (alone). Bruce solo, on vocals and guitar. The performance was also video recorded and first broadcast commercially on April 18, 1999 as part of the Johnny Cash Tribute special on the USA's TNT network. The recording was not officially released until September 2002 on the Cash Kindred Spirits tribute album. The video of the performance has yet to be officially issued, although it circulates among collectors via copies of the original TV broadcast.

LIFT ME UP 5:16 1999 Limbo Movie Soundtrack / ESSENTIAL: BONUS

Note: Recorded at Thrill Hill East (Bruce's NJ home studio) in March 1999. Produced by Springsteen (alone). Bruce handles vocals and all instruments. Written by Bruce specifically for the John Sayles movie "Limbo" and first released on the movie soundtrack album in June 1999.

THE WALL - V1 uncirculating

Note: Written December 1997-January 1998. The title and idea came from Joe Grushecky and written by Springsteen after he and Patti Scialfa visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Bruce premiered the song live on February 19, 2003 at Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA, and prefaced the performance by mentioning that he'd visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington in December 1997 and that several days later Grushecky (in advance of their songwriting sessions) sent Bruce a newspaper clipping about the Vietnam Memorial. Grushecky subsequently wrote a different, but similarly themed, song called "On The Wall" that appeared on his 2002 Fingertips album. Recorded in the late 90s (perhaps during sessions for Tracks) with the E Street Band, including Danny Federici. Played twice during 2005's Devils & Dust Tour. Produced by Ron Aniello and Springsteen. Musician credits: Springsteen (vocals, guitar, drums), Roy Bittan (piano), Danny Federici (organ), Nils Lofgren (guitar), Patti Scialfa (backing vocals), Garry Tallent (bass), Max Weinberg (percussion), Ron Aniello (synths, accordion) and Curt Ramm (cornet). V2 issued on 2014's High Hopes.

GAVE IT A NAME - V1 uncirculating

Note: V1 was recorded between December 1990 and late January 1991 at either the Record Plant, Soundworks West or A&M Studios in Los Angeles. Planned for inclusion on the Tracks boxset, but Bruce was unable to locate the master tape, so he re-recorded the song V2 on August 24, 1998 at his home studio in Colts Neck, NJ, and it's that recording which can be found on Tracks. Springsteen told Melinda Newman in an interview with Billboard published in November 1998, "What happened is I cut the original at the time I cut these other songs [Bruce is referring to songs like "Over The Rise", "When The Lights Go Out", "Loose Change" etc, which were all recorded around the December 1990-January 1991 period], but we couldn't find the master tape of it, and I really liked the song. So Roy Bittan came out, and we re-cut it in August".

LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS - V1 uncirculating
LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS - V2 uncirculating

Note: Written by Bruce sometime in 1998 or early 1999. The song was premiered live with the E Street Band on March 18, 1999 for the Reunion Tour. A later live version with the E Street Band was officially released on the Live In New York City package. Cut in 2011 and issued on the Wrecking Ball album. V3 features Springsteen, Aniello (some combination of guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, percussion and/or loops), Charlie Giordano (piano, B-3 organ), Curt Ramm (trumpet, cornet), Clark Gayton (trombone), Stan Harrison (clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax), Ed Manion (tenor & baritone sax), Dan Levine (alto horn, euphonium), Art Baron (euphonium, tuba, sousaphone, penny whistle), Clarence Clemons (saxophone solo), Soozie Tyrell (violin & backing vocal), backing vocals from Patti Scialfa, Lisa Lowell and Michelle Moore, and the Victorious Gospel Choir. Steve Van Zandt is uncredited, but clearly audible at times.

UNDER A BIG SKY uncirculating

Note: "Under A Big Sky" was recorded in April 1998.

CODE OF SILENCE uncirculating

Note: Co-written by Bruce and Joe Grushecky during December 1997-January 1998. Springsteen premiered the song live on June 12, 2000 and released a live version (recorded June 29, 2000) on The Essential Bruce Springsteen in 2003. A Grushecky studio version (with Bruce on support vocals) was released on his album A Good Life in July 2006.

ANOTHER THIN LINE uncirculating

Note: Written sometime between late 1997 and early 2000. There remains some confusion if "Another Thin Line" is a writing collaboration with Joe Grushecky or if it was composed entirely by Springsteen. Springsteen premiered the song live on June 22, 2000. He then prefaced another performance of the song on June 29 by commenting "here's something I wrote with Joe Grushecky". However, a publishing registration, as well as the official US Copyright filing (July 21, 2000) lists the song as a Springsteen-only composition. Bruce has never officially released a recorded version, but Joe Grushecky released it on his East Carson Street album in 2009.


Note: Performed during soundcheck at The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA September 17, 1984, during BITUSA tour. Recorded at several solo sessions between November 1997 and January 1998, before the E Street Band were reconstructed and the song was quietly sidelined, along with the album he was then working on. According to the Sony logs, it wasn’t recorded for BITUSA or TOL. The first time the song popped up was at soundchecks in the summer of 1984, one of which, at the Philadelphia Spectrum, some enterprising taper caught. But, aside from the title phrase and a strong melody line, it is almost impossible to discern what the song is actually about.


Note: Written by Bruce in March - April 1996 while on the Ghost Of Tom Joad tour and premiered live on April 16, 1996. Also known as "Santa Gets A Blowjob".


Note: Also known as "Never Any Other For Me But You". Written by Bruce in mid-1996 while on the Ghost Of Tom Joad tour and premiered live on September 19, 1996.

IN FREEHOLD uncirculating

Note: Bruce wrote "In Michigan" backstage in Kalamazoo, MI while on the Ghost Of Tom Joad tour and premiered it live the same day, September 24, 1996. The concept was to write a song which included the name of the state of the location he was playing. He then expanded on the premise of the song and premiered the almost completely rewritten "In Freehold" on November 8, 1996 in Freehold, naturally. Also known as "Freehold". It is unclear whether this song was recorded during studio sessions.

LONG TIME COMIN' - V1 uncirculating

Note: Written by Bruce in the summer or early autumn of 1996 while on the Ghost Of Tom Joad tour and premiered live on October 16, 1996. This recording is a hybrid of two sessions quite some years apart. The basic track (Bruce, Danny Federici, Marty Rifkin, Soozie Tyrell and Patti Scialfa) emanates from 1997 or 1998, Thrill Hill West, Beverly Hills. CA. Recorded by Toby Scott and produced by Springsteen and Chuck Plotkin. The drums (Steve Jordan) and bass guitar (Brendan O’Brien)were added to the mix in 2004, at Masterphonics, Nashville, Tennessee, and Southern Tracks Recording, Atlanta, Georgia, which is the likely reason why this released version is credited as a “Springsteen-Plotkin-O’Brien” production.

THE HITTER - V1 uncirculating

Note: Written by Bruce in the autumn of 1996 while on the Ghost Of Tom Joad tour and premiered live on November 13, 1996. Recorded during studio sessions in 1998 (this version does not circulate). Re-recorded in 2004 and released on the Devils & Dust album. The core recording (which may date from 1997-98) is Springsteen solo, on all instruments (vocals, guitar, keyboards and percussion). The strings (Nashville String Machine) and horns (Brice Andrus, Donald Strand, Susan Welty and Thomas Witte) were recorded and added in 2004.


Note: Written by Bruce during December 1995 and early January 1996 while on the Ghost Of Tom Joad tour and premiered live on January 10, 1996.

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