The Promise notes

THE PROMISE - V1 5:35 DO-2 / UP / DDOC
THE PROMISE - V2 5:25 LM-2 / DDO / DO-3 / AM / UP / ATEOD
THE PROMISE - V3 7:11 DDITV / AM / UP / MT1
THE PROMISE - V4a 7:25 uncirculating
THE PROMISE - V4b 7:25 PROMISE: DELUXE
THE PROMISE - V5 uncirculating
THE PROMISE - V6 4:48 18TRACKS
THE PROMISE - V7 5:54 PROMISE
flickr:49059596991

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 30 at Atlantic Studios. V3, considered the definitive version by collectors and long-time fans, was recorded on September 28, 1977, and first released unofficially on 'Deep Down In the Vaults'. However, Bruce found it lacking for some reason. He and the band worked on other songs until the end of the year, when Bruce opened his lyrics notebook, and unveiled two new lines for the start 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.

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New Ruffs Tape

February 17, 1978

cassette 'Ruff Mixs'

1. Racin' In the Streets

2. The Promise Land

3. The Promise (Old Verse)

4. The Promise (New Verse with strings & full harmony)

5. The Promise (New Verse no strings)

1. Racing In the Street had not been mixed down yet, so this track was probably take 46 from August 30, or perhaps it was a
copy of the version he finished working on December 9, which later became the base track for Racing In the Street ('78). I
would bet on the latter.

2. The Promised Land was completed and mixed, but it would be v2a, the mix without Miami Steve's guitar solo, which wasn't added
back until April 1978.

The Promise - this is amazing information to add to the record. The "new verse" is described in the current detail section.

V3, considered the definitive version by collectors, was recorded on September 28, 1977, and first released unofficially on Deep Down In the Vaults. However, Bruce found it lacking for some reason.

He wrote a new verse,
'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'
V4 is on the Thrill-Hill Blu-Ray/DVD, and was shot live in-the-studio by Barry Rebo on January 12, 1978, with the new verse

After being rejected again for Darkness, V5 was recorded on January 24, 1978, without the E Street Band (who are on all the previous studio takes). Just like his 22 live performances from August 1976 - March 1977, he recorded "The Promise" singing alone at the piano. He didn't approve the recording, which was placed in the vault, and the Promise was deleted from the final March sequence for Darkness On the Edge of Town.

3. The Promise (Old Verse) last performed September 26, 1977

I won big once and I hit the coast, oh but somehow I paid the big cost
Inside I felt like I was carrying the broken spirits of all the other ones who lost
When the promise is broken you go on living, but it steals something from down in your soul
Like when the truth is spoken and it don't make no difference, something in your heart goes cold
I followed that dream through the southwestern tracks, that dead ends in two-bit bars
When the promise was broken I was far away from home sleeping in the backseat of a borrowed car
Thunder Road, for the lost lovers and all the fixed games………….

4. The Promise (New Verse with strings & full harmony) January 12, 1978
5. The Promise (New Verse no strings) January 12, 1978

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
When the promise is broken you go on living, it steals something from down in your soul
Like when the truth gets spoken, don't make a difference, something in your heart well it turns cold
Well I follow that dream to the southwest ???, the dead ends in the two-bit bars
The promise was broken, I go far away from home sleeping in the backseat of a borrowed car
Thunder Road, hey-yeahhh-yeah
Thunder Road, here's all for the tires rushing by in the rain………..

These are my notes on these 3 songs background information

NOT FOR PUBLIC
DANNY NOT ALLOWED
EDDY OK I GIVE YOU BACKSTAGE PASS

Recording dates

The Promise June 30
The Promise July 1
The Promise July 7
The Promise July 8
The Promise July 13, 1977

Dying In The Street July 2, 1977 at Atlantic Studios.
Racing In The Street August 1, 1977
Racing In The Street August 2, 1977
Racing In The Street August 3, 1977
Racing In The Street August 4, 1977
Racing In The Street August 10, 1977
Racing In The Street August 12, 1977
Racing In The Street August 29, 1977
Racing In The Street August 30, 1977 The Record Plant take 46 COMPLETED

The Promise August 24
The Promise August 30 at Atlantic Studios
The Promise September 28, 1977

Racing In The Street November 28
Racing In The Street November 29
Racing In The Street November 30
Racing In The Street December 6, 1977 at The Record Plant
Racing In The Street December 9, 1977 at The Record Plant

The Promised Land September 30, 1977 (3 takes)
The Promised Land October 20, 1977 take 5
The Promised Land October 27, 1977 (20 takes-19 working on ending) take 5
The Promised Land December 1 MIXING
The Promised Land December 27 MIXING

The promised land Released version - take 5 was used
The Promised Land April 15 1978 Van Zandt's guitar solo

The Promise v5 January 12 1978 - Thrill Hill Vault
The Promise January 24, 1978

Darkness January 16, 1978 album sequence

Side One
Badlands
Don’t Look Back
Candy’s Room
Something In The Night
Racing In The Street

Side Two
The Promised Land
Adam Raised A Cain
The Way
Prove It All Night
The Promise

MIXING
Racing In The Street March 21, 1978 The Record Plant
Racing In The Street March 22, 1978 The Record Plant
Racing In The Street March 23, 1978 The Record Plant
Racing in the street Released version - take 46 was used

April 12, 1978.pressed to a metal acetate The Promised Land Racing in the street

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OLDER NOTES

THESE ARE MINE

THE PROMISE - V1 5:35 DO-2 / UP July 1, 7-8 and 13, 1977
THE PROMISE - V2 5:25 LM-2 / DDO / DO-3 / UP / GT / LMEC / August 24 and 30 at Atlantic Studios
THE PROMISE - V3a 7:11 DDITV / UP September 28, 1977
THE PROMISE - V3b 5:47 PROMISE September 28, 1977 + 2010
THE PROMISE - V4 7:25 THRILL HILL VAULT January 12, 1978 Record Plant, New York
THE PROMISE - V5 uncirculating January 24, 1978 Record Plant, New York
THE PROMISE - V6 4:43 TRACKS February 9-12, 1999 Boxwood, Rumson NJ

June 30, 1977
July 1, 1977
July 7, 1977
July 8, 1977
July 13, 1977
August 24, 1977
August 30, 1977
September 28, 1977 Record Plant, New York
January 12, 1978 Record Plant, New York
January 24, 1978 Record Plant, New York

February 9, 1999 Boxwood, Rumson NJ
February 12, 1999 Boxwood, Rumson NJ

Note:
When Bruce introduced 'The Promise' on August 3, 1976 at Monmouth Arts Center, Red Bank, New Jersey, it was in the middle of his set, and the E Street Band had just played 'Born To Run'. Then the lights went down, and Bruce was on stage alone, singing and playing piano, which is a very rare event. He sang 'The Promise', with possibly the most downhearted lyrics ever; the chorus where he later would sing "Thunder Road" was "It's A Loser", and when the Promise was finally broken, he was not only 'far away from home sleeping in the backseat of a borrowed car', but also 'drunk and sleeping with a stranger' (yes, he crammed that all into one line!). The end of the second verse and chorus was:

And 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
It's a loser, there's somethin' burning down on the highway tonight

The next time he sang it, on September 29, 1976 at Santa Monica, California, he once again played without the band, but substantially revised the lyrics to a less suicidal format.

He sang it live 22 times until June 1, 1977, when he finally got to record it at Atlantic Studios in New York City. Because of Bruce's loyal core following, many of those shows were taped either from the audience, or taken directly from the soundboard. So because he was locked out of the recording studio for almost a year, and forced to practice and develop his song in front of a public audience, his performances were recorded and documented, so we know every lyrical modification or change in arrangement, a rare opportunity in any artist's career. Many versions are documented here and on SpringsteenLyrics.com.

According to Sony's studio logs, 10 takes of The Promise were recorded between June 1, 1977 and January 24, 1978. Version 1 was recorded during the first block of takes at Atlantic Studios, which were 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 'the Promise' again on August 24 and 30 at Atlantic Studios. One of those takes is Version 2, which was considered the definitive take for years,

The other candidate for definitive version of the Promise is version 3a, recorded on September 28, 1977, and first released unofficially on Deep Down In the Vaults. This slow, 7 minute take without strings, but with the E Street Band, was released in excellent quality, and has been a favorite of collectors for years. However, Bruce found it lacking for some reason, did not include it in the 'Badlands' album 4 sequence from October 1977, and rejected it for Tracks in 1998. When he sings 'we're gonna take it all and throw it all away" he was not fooling around.

Version 3b is version 3a with overdubbed multiple guitars, glock, double tracked vocals, and backing vocals by Bruce. The final verse
with 'backseat of a borrowed car' is edited out, along with much of the ending, strings are added, making this the 5:45 "family version" of The Promise, just another in a long history of strange decisions. Thanks to Eddy Wehbe for spotting version 3 underneath the thick layer of overdubs.

As the Darkness recording sessions were coming to a close in January, Bruce brought out his notebook at the last minute with a new verse for 'The Promise' that went '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'. The band recorded it on January 12, 1978, and all of a sudden it was now the final track on the album 4 sequence of January 16. Version 4 on the Thrill-Hill Blu-Ray/DVD is said to be a rehearsal of the January 12 take, with Bruce's sore throat vocal making him sound like 2010 Bruce, but he is 1978 real. Unfortunately, the rejected version 3a easily trumps the others, especially version 3b, it's evil half-brother. Bruce must have agreed because a week later, he was back in the studio behind his piano, trying to work out 'The Promise' solo this time (all the studio takes to this point had been with the E Street Band, though the previous live performances featured just Bruce and his piano, with occasional glock by Danny.

Version 5 was recorded on January 24, 1978 at the Record Plant, New York, possibly without the E Street Band, but totally unverified because the master went straight to the vault. The Promise was finished and deleted from the final March sequence of Darkness On the Edge of Town.

The Darkness Tour began on May 23, 1978, with 'The Promise' "my daddy taught me how to walk quiet" version featured with Bruce on piano.
2 versions of the Promise have been released since it was put in the vault in 1978.

Considered for the album, but ultimately rejected 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.”

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https://www.springsteenlyrics.com/lyrics.php?cmd=list&letter=t

THE PROMISE [Official 1977 studio version] THE PROMISE - V7 2010

THE PROMISE [Official 1978 studio version] THE PROMISE - V4b

THE PROMISE [Official 1999 studio version] THE PROMISE - V6

THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 1] THE PROMISE - V1

THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 2] THE PROMISE - V2

THE PROMISE [Unofficial studio version 3] THE PROMISE - V3

THE PROMISE [Live 03 Aug 1976 version]

THE PROMISE [Live 29 Sep 1976 version]

THE PROMISE [Live 30 Oct 1976 version]

THE PROMISE [Live 19 May 1978 version]

THE PROMISE [Live 23 May 1978 version]


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