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Cover Us: Our Favorite Bruce Springsteen Cover Songs Played Live in Concert

Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, the kitchen, the yard and out fishing. He writes from his personal experience.

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With more than 40 years on the road and over 2,700 live performances under their belts, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are still going strong. Their legendary shows typically include many of our perennial favorite songs such as Born To Run, The Promised Land, Badlands and Thunder Road. And on any given night, the set list might include one of those classic moments when Bruce and the band cover a song that was originally released by another artist.

Back in the days before the internet, our access to the songs and music on Bruce's set lists was limited to bootleg copies of live performances. Recordings of iconic radio broadcasts from the Main Point, the Bottom Line, the Cleveland Agora and the Roxy introduced us to Springsteen's interpretations of the songs that influenced him as a young songwriter and helped to shape his music. Some were popular and well known. Others were revivals of lost relics and at least for me, hearing the E Street version of a cover was often my first introduction to some of these great songs.

bruce-springsteen-live-concert-cover-songs

Here's a collection of our favorite covers by Bruce and the band. Some were played routinely during certain tours while others have only been played a few times. In many instances, we also included a version performed by the original artist.

These are the covers that we like best, and it's not intended as a complete list. If you have a favorite that we've overlooked, please leave a comment at bottom of the page. We always like listening to more music from Bruce and the E Street band.

And Then He Kissed Me

My first exposure to the Bruce and E Street Band "live in concert" was through a bootleg recording of the Bottom Line show from August 1975. Springsteen's version of And Then He Kissed Me was one of the many highlights from this iconic performance. (Bruce changed the lyrics to And Then She Kissed Me). At the time, I though this was a new original song.

Then He Kissed Me was written by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. The song was performed and released by the Crystals in July 1963.

And Then She Kissed Me (Bottom Line, October 1975)

And Then He Kissed Me (The Crystals, 1963)

Detroit Medley: Devil With The Blue Dress / Good Golly, Miss Molly / C.C. Rider / Jenny Jenny

Devil with the Blue Dress On was written in 1964 by Shorty Long and William "Mickey" Stevenson, and originally released by Motown as a single in 1964. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels recorded their version two years later as a rockin' medley, mixing in Little Richard's Good Golly, Miss Molly.

Bruce incorporated C.C. Rider and Jenny Jenny into his Detroit Medley. A popular encore since the 1970's, the Detroit Medley was featured in the No Nukes concert album.

Detroit Medley (Houston, 1978)

Devil in the Blue Dress / Good Golly, Miss Molly (Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels)

Not Fade Away

Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded Not Fade Away in 1957, and the song was later covered by the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead.

Mighty Max leads the way on the intro to this live version from the Darkness tour before the band kicks into She's the One. This is one of my all-time favorite concert songs.

Not Fade Away / She's the One / Gloria (Landover Largo, 1978)

Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly, 1957)

You Never Can Tell (Teenage Wedding)

Taking on an audience request, Bruce and the band spend a few minutes trying to work through the key. It's fun to watch the interactions between Bruce and the horns as they jam through this version of the Chuck Berry classic.

You Never Can Tell (Leipzig July 7th 2013)

Twist & Shout

Twist and Shout was originally recorded by the Top Notes in 1961 and then again by the Isley Brothers in 1962, but it was the Beatles version that is arguably the most popular recording of the song (John Lennon's singing is awesome!). The E Street version is pretty good too.


Twist & Shout (Capitol Theatre, 9/20/1978)

Quarter to Three

Gary "U.S." Bonds released Quarter to Three in 1961 and it climbed to Number One on the Billboard chart. Another encore favorite, Bruce and the band played this song the first time that I saw them live in concert at the Midnight Show at the Carlton Theater, Red Bank, N.J. in 1975.

Quarter To Three (New York, September 22, 1979)

Quarter To Three (Gary "U.S." Bonds, Capitol Theatre, December 16, 1981)

Mustang Sally (and Louie Louie)

Written by Mack Rice in 1965, Mustang Sally was covered by Wilson Pickett and released as a single in 1966. The song was also included on Wilson's album, The Wicked Pickett.

Springsteen plays this song sparingly in concert. Fortunately, one of these rare occurrences was captured during the High Hopes tour. The 2014 video kicks off with Louie Louie before Bruce pulls a fan request from the audience for Mustang Sally.

Louie Louie / Mustang Sally (Charlotte, April 19, 2014)

Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)

Summertime Blues

Summertime Blues was co-written by Eddie Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart, and released as a B-side single in 1958. It was been covered by many artists including the Beach Boys, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

Bruce opened several shows with Summertime Blues including the radio broadcast from the Cleveland Agora on August 9, 1978.

Summertime Blues (Cleveland Agora, 1978)

London Calling

London Calling was written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of The Clash. The double album by the same name was released at the end of 1979 in the U.K., selling over five million copies worldwide.

Joe Strummer died unexpectedly in 2002. At the end of the 2003 Grammys, Springsteen, Little Steven Van Zant, Dave Grohl and Elvis Costello played London Calling as a tribute to Strummer and the band.

Springsteen periodically added London Calling to his set list including as the opening song for the Hard Rock Calling music festival at Hyde Park, London in 2009.

London Calling (Hard Rock Calling Festival)

London Calling (The Clash in Tokyo on January 2, 1982)

High Hopes

High Hopes was written and originally recorded by Tim Scott McConnell in 1985. He later recorded the song again in 1990 with his band The Havalinas.

Springsteen initially recorded the song with the E Street Band during the Greatest Hits sessions in 1995. During the Wrecking Ball tour in 2013, Tom Morello reportedly suggested adding High Hopes to the set list. The song was subsequently recorded in the studio and released on the album.

High Hopes Into Atlantic City (Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN on April 17, 2014)

High Hopes (The Havalinas)

Raise Your Hand

Raise Your Hand was written by Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper and Alvertis Isbell in 1967. Two years later, Janis Joplin released her version and also performed the song at Woodstock.

Another encore favorite, Bruce included Raise Your Hand on the Live/1975–85 box set.

Raise Your Hand (Roxy Theatre, July 7, 1978)

Raise Your Hand (Janis Joplin in Frankfurt, Germany, 1969)

Trapped

Written and recorded by reggae artist Jimmy Cliff in 1972, Trapped is arguably best known from Springsteen's live arrangement that was recorded during the Born in the U.S.A. tour and subsequently released on the We Are the World collaboration.

Trapped (Parc De La Courneuve in Paris, France on June 29, 1985)

Jersey Girl

Well, since I'm from the great state of New Jersey....

Jersey Girl was written in 1980 by Tom Waits. In 1984, Springsteen and the E Street Band included a live recording of the song on the B-side of the Cover Me single. Bruce rewrote some of the lyrics and added a verse to his rendition.

Jersey Girl

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Ho, Ho, Ho!

The single from this holiday favorite was recorded live at C. W. Post College in Brookville, NY on December 12, 1975.

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Vote For Your Favorite Springsteen Cover:

The E Street Band (Valladolid, Spain 2009)

Working on a Dream Tour 2009

Working on a Dream Tour 2009

© 2019 Anthony Altorenna

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