Cover Me: Our Favorite Covers of Bruce Springsteen Songs
A Collection of Artists Performing the Music of Bruce Springsteen
Over his long, prolific and continuing career, Bruce Springsteen has written and recorded hundreds of songs and cemented his position as an iconic songwriter and performer. Many of his songs were also recorded by other artists, sometimes long before he released these songs himself.
Springsteen expands his audience and opens his music to different generations and genres when other musicians record his music, or by giving selected songs to another artist. Some of the artists and their covers of Bruce Springsteen songs are familiar and well known, others are obscure, and some might be a bit surprising; both the original and the cover versions are represented here. And the list of Bruce Springsteen cover songs continues to grow.
From the Counting Crows to Johnny Cash and the Pointer Sisters, from David Bowie to the Hollies, the lyrics and music written by Springsteen continues to inspire musicians and thrill audiences around the globe. Heard from iPods to arenas, the music touches the listeners and the artists who choose to cover Springsteen songs - sometimes as a tribute, sometimes in their own style. Here's a carefully chosen collection of songs written by Bruce Springsteen that were covered and recorded and performed by other artists. Get ready to download and enjoy!
"The Fever"—Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
Originally recorded by Southside Johnny, The Fever is a staple in his onstage performances with the Asbury Jukes. The Fever is also popular with Springsteen followers who heard the song played infrequently at Bruce's live shows. Like many other Springsteen songs that were not officially released, live performances of The Fever were captured on several bootleg recordings that circulated back in the 1970s.
Bruce finally included his original version of The Fever in the Tracks compilation.
The Fever (Live 1978) - Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen
"Because the Night"—The Patti Smith Group and 10,000 Maniacs
A castoff from the Darkness on the Edge of Town studio sessions, Springsteen gave Because the Night to Patti Smith, who happened to be recording an album of her own in the same recording studio. After reworking a few of the lyrics, Smith released Because the Night as a single.
Springsteen also played the song frequently during the Darkness concert tour, where it quickly became a fan favorite. Bruce included Because the Night on the Live 75 - 85 boxed set release.
10,000 Maniacs later featured Because the Night in their set on the popular MTV show Unplugged. Take three minutes to listen their version: this is one of the best Springsteen covers out there.
Because the Night (Live) - 10,000 Maniacs
Because the Night (Live) - Bruce Springsteen
Because the Night: Patti Smith, Bono, the Edge and Bruce Springsteen
"Thunder Road"—The Counting Crows & Melissa Etheridge
In their live performance of Rain King, the Counting Crows embedded this interesting and faithful version of the classic Springsteen hit Thunder Road into the middle of their song.
The first time I heard this played, I didn't pick up on the Springsteen lyrics. If you haven't heard this version, give this song a good listen. I can almost guarantee that you'll listen to it again.
Melissa Etheridge wanted to play Thunder Road on her acoustic MTV performance, and she wanted to Bruce to join her onstage. She asked, and he said yes.
Counting Crows perform Rain King along with Thunder Road (Live 2007)
Thunder Road: Melissa Etheridge and Bruce
"Fire"— The Pointer Sisters and Robert Gordon
Legend says that Bruce wrote Fire for Elvis. Though the King didn't record the song (and may never have known of its existence), Fire was recorded by several artists including Robert Gordon before Bruce included a live version with the Live 75 - 85 boxed set release. The version released by the Pointer Sisters received a lot of air play, and may be the best known cover of this song.
Personally, I prefer Robert Gordon's cover of Fire.
The Pointer Sisters: Fire
Robert Gordon & Link Wray: Fire
"Dancing in the Dark"—Amy MacDonald
In his autobiography, Springsteen shares a portion of a conversation with Jon Landau as they listened to cuts from the soon-to-be-released Born in the USA album: "He suggested that we didn't have a single", said Bruce. He went home and wrote Dancing in the Dark, his most successful single. The video was also a commercial success, featuring a young Courteney Cox.
This interesting cover by Amy Mac Donald was recommended by a visitor to this page.
"Sandy (4th of July in Asbury Park)"—The Hollies
Sandy / 4th of July is a powerful ballad that paints a vivid (and somewhat romanticized) picture of the Jersey Shore scene in the 1970s. The Hollies were one of the first artists to cover a Springsteen song, and released their version of Sandy way back in 1975.
I couldn't find a video of the Hollies performing their version so instead, this version features one of the last performances with Danny Federici before he succumbed to cancer.
4th of July in Asbury Park (Sandy)
"Blinded by the Light and Spirits in the Night and for You"—Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Manfred Mann's Earth Band covered several early Springsteen songs from the Greetings from Asbury Park album. Though critically acclaimed, "Greetings" did not sell well initially for Springsteen. By contrast, the mainstream sound of the Manfred Mann arrangements of these songs appealed to a wider audience. Picked up by radio stations nationally, the Manfred Mann cover songs attained a higher level of commercial success than Bruce's original recordings.
Manford Mann: Blinded By The Light
Spirits in the Night
"Rendezvous"—The Greg Kiln Band
Perhaps Greg Kiln's most commercially successful single, Rendezvous was a popular addition to the song list in Springsteen's live shows. Rumored as recorded during the Darkness on the Edge of Town studio sessions and appearing on bootlegged studio outtakes from the period, Rendezvous was officially released by Springsteen in the Tracks compilation.
Greg Kiln: Rendezvous
"Pink Cadillac"—Natalie Cole
Released originally as the B-side to the Dancing in the Dark single, Pink Cadillac was not officially released on an album by Springsteen until its inclusion in Tracks.
Natalie Cole's cover of Pink Cadillac is not well known, but she makes the song her own.
Pink Cadillac - Natalie Cole
"Cadillac Ranch"—Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Just for fun. Either you love it, or you hate it.
Cadillac Ranch: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
"Atlantic City"—Ed Sheeran
Though critically acclaimed when it was released, the stripped down and bleak sounding Nebraska album was not a popular seller and received little air play from the radio stations. Over the years, Atlantic City has gained in popularity and has been covered by several artists from Levon Helm and the Band to a live version by Mumford & Sons.
Recorded by The Man in Black, the record version of Atlantic City is hardly recognizable as the stark original that Bruce recorded on a four-track player for the Nebraska album. I couldn't find an online recording by Johnny Cash, so I'm substituting this version by Ed Sheeran. It is surprising well done.
Atlantic City: Ed Sheeran
"It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City"—David Bowie
After catching a live performance of Springsteen & the E Street band during their early years as a bar band, David Bowie was inspired to cover a couple of songs including this interesting (and relatively obscure) version of It's Hard to be a Saint in the City.
I couldn't find live video performance, so this studio version set to a series of slides will have to do.
David Bowie: It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City
Take a right at the light, keep goin' straight until night and then boys, you're on your own
Do you have a favorite cover of a Bruce Springsteen Song that was recorded by another Artist?
Do you have a favorite cover of a Bruce Springsteen Song that was recorded by another Artist?
Special Guest Appearances
Just to change this up a bit... Bruce often shows up at clubs and other venues to join the band on stage for a song or invites special guests to join him onstage with the E Street Band. Here are a couple of my favorite guest appearances.
Gaslight Anthem: American Slang
U2 & Bruce: Where The Streets Have No Name
Paul McCartney & Bruce: When I Saw Her Standing There, Twist & Shout
Around the Web: Bruce Springsteen
- The Official Bruce Springsteen website
Catch the latest news and concert notes on Bruce and the E Streeters. Includes looks Springsteen's music, tour dates and touching tributes to Danny and the Big Man.
Out There and Alive Since 1980By fans, for fans: Backstreets magazine has been covering the music of Bruce Springsteen and Jersey Shore artists for more than a quarter-century.
- Bruce Springsteen on Facebook
Photos, Events, Videos and more!
- Bruce Springsteen on Twitter
The official feed of Bruce Springsteen & brucespringsteen.net
- Bruce Springsteen: Biography
Biography.com pays tribute to Bruce Springsteen, New Jersey's favorite son of Rock & Roll.
- Bruce Springsteen: Concert Set Lists
Get Bruce Springsteen setlists - view them, share them, discuss them with other Bruce Springsteen fans
- Bruce Springsteen: NPR Stories
The following stories about this artist have appeared on NPR.org
- The AllMusic Discography of Bruce Springsteen
Find Bruce Springsteen bio, songs, credits, awards related and video information on AllMusic
And one more: There's always an encore!
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Anthony Altorenna