Bruce Springsteen’s 10 best covers
“The best music, you can seek shelter in it momentarily, but it’s basically there to give you something to face the world with.” “ – Bruce Springsteen
You don’t get the nickname “The Boss” for no reason, and Bruce Springsteen has spent his life in the limelight delivering rock and roll jams to earn his accolade. E Street Band frontman Springsteen has always managed to function as a very unique entity. Although at first glance his work might be considered a bit too rock to be appreciated across decades and generations, the honest authenticity of the songwriter means that he comes through everyone with consummate ease and a smile on his face.
Springsteen’s cannon is bigger and better than anything you’d expect. An artist whose shows regularly last over three hours has bound to have a few jams in his back pocket, and alongside his red flag, you’ll find a slew of incredible songs in The Boss’s Levi’s. While we can speak in words of Springsteen’s impressive work, perhaps the easiest way to show his widespread influence is to look at the plethora of talents who have turned to his work as the perfect vehicle for their own expression.
Over 20 studio albums, Springsteen has spared no effort and provided a group of searing works that not only describe his own life but also act as a chronicle of the American people. The American Dream was not something Bruce Springsteen could easily achieve. So, throughout his long musical career, he exercised his prowess in songwriting that served as a weapon to carve out his own. His working-class New Jersey roots enhance every bit of his much-revered brand of lyrical storytelling. For music fans around the world, Bruce created the true voice of Heartland America.
It might be a long time since Springsteen first took the stage and made his Bob Dylan-style folk-rock known, but, by then, it feels like The Boss has become. omnipresent on the music scene, as inextricable as the air we breathe. However, what is more important is that it is still as vital as this oxygen, still as powerful and useful as ever.
Writing a classic pop song is one thing, but writing a pop song that artists can connect with for the rest of their lives, which they can relate to their own artistic expression, is something only a performer like Bruce Springsteen can. achieve. The usual rules apply (no artist or song goes in twice), and below you can find our favorite Bruce Springsteen covers of all time.
10 best covers of Bruce Springsteen:
‘I’m on fire’ – Bat for Lashes
Natasha Khan and Bat For Lashes is a unique proposition. They might have made a name for themselves in the indie blast of the 2000s, but the singer quickly established himself as a serial mermaid. She provides, without fail, a voice that will give you chills and, facing the classic “I’m On Fire” by Springsteen, she excels once again.
Subtly changing the lyrics of a song is one thing, but successfully transforming a Springsteen song into something entirely original is what sets Khan and his colleagues apart. Springsteen’s song is one of his best, and it is enriched by this extraordinary performance.
‘Atlantic City’ – The band
Written in isolation, Bruce Springsteen’s album Nebraska is one of his most adored. The record isn’t quite radio-friendly due to the myriad of dark themes and can put people off at times but, given Springsteen’s classic “Atlantic City”, The Band doesn’t make a single mistake with this one.
The group naturally changes the rhythm of the song and relies instead on an accordion to advance this cover. Levon Helm takes the vocals and pushes the lyrics to their natural, dark conclusion, even though the music is oddly upbeat for the content. Springsteen’s original suggests Atlantic City has nothing but nightmares in store for its visitors while The Band dreams of better times.
‘Johnny 99’ – Johnny Cash
There is a clear affinity between Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen. Both artists are rightly considered the lifeblood of Americana and Cash has covered a number of songs from The Boss over the years. But his version of “Johnny 99” is perhaps the best of all.
Written and recorded by Springsteen in 1982, Johnny Cash covered the track and not only included it on his 69th album, but even titled the record after the song. Released in 1983, Cash turns the song upside down and makes it his own. It’s perfect fodder for Cash as he tells the story of a tragic inmate and once again excels when he has to transfer the emotions of others into his own words.
“Drive All Night” – Eddie Vedder and Glen Hansard
Glen Hansard is a little-known singer who is often bypassed in the pantheon of performers. He made his biggest hit opening for Eddie Vedder during the singer’s Pearl Jam show series. If the crowds had decided to wait at the bar until Vedder took the stage, they would have missed out on an impressive performance.
Vedder would often join Hansard on stage during his duet performance on this classic Springsteen number. ‘Drive All Night’ is so well delivered on this live that the duo even took it to the studio to record, accompanied by the son of E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, Jake.
“Dancing in the Dark” – Hot Chip
‘Dancing in the Dark’ is a song from Springsteen’s canon that has been covered several times. Therefore, the competition for this spot on our list was strong, it even included Springsteen’s ultimate hero, Bob Dylan. However, it is undeniable that the cover of the song by Hot Chip is pure happiness.
Released in 2015, the cover quickly became part of Hot Chip’s live set and is a guarantee to start the party wherever you are. Of course, being Hot Chip, the coverage isn’t straightforward. It brings the song into the 21st century and provides a computerized reason to ask Courtney Cox to dance. When LCD Soundsystem goes down to about five minutes, things change a notch. Pure shine.
“I’m Going Down” – Vampire Weekend
Some artists have a habit of making songs – regardless of their author – as if they came straight from their own album. One of those artists is Vampire Weekend. Capturing the clip below, we see a stripped down Ezra Koenig and Co. delivering a sweet and beautiful cover of Springsteen’s “I’m Goin ‘Down”.
A laid-back tambourine, delicate piano, and Koenig’s ever-lavish vocals mean this song comes from the grimy Americana it started out with. Springsteen’s version is pure rock, but Vampire Weekend turns the track into a ’60s ditty. Allowing the melody to take center stage, Vampire Weekend simply floats with it.
“It’s hard to be a saint in the city” – David Bowie
David Bowie’s other interstellar world and Bruce Springsteen’s rather straight blue-collar workers may seem like two pretty disparate creative realms, but their paths have crossed more than once. Throughout this interconnected relationship, there has been a healthy mutual admiration.
For example, in 1979 for a BBC radio show, Bowie chose “Saint In The City” as one of his all-time favorite songs, and upon Starman’s tragic death in 2016, Springsteen announced: “Here on E Street, we feel the great loss of David Bowie. David was a visionary artist and one of the early supporters of our music. Always changing and at the forefront, he was an artist whose excellence you aspired to. He will be sorely missed. “
He covered this song during his lifetime and offered a supremely capricious account of it. It’s a perfect combination of style, substance and the ultimate torque of power.
‘Brilliant Disguise’ – Elvis Costello
After Born in the United States Confirmed Springsteen as the greatest musical group in the world, Springsteen did what any credible artist would do in this situation and tried to get as far away from the chart-topping album as possible. The follow-up album, Tunnel of love, was about as far as Springsteen could jump all at once. The best moment of the low-key album is a pure love song that doesn’t need to be further dissected – “Brilliant Disguises” sounds like Springsteen channeling Roy Orbison and speaking more personally than ever before.
This makes it a perfect choice for famous performer Elvis Costello when he picked up a melody to repeat. Day light, Springsteen’s tribute album. Springsteen covered Costello as well, so there’s some mutual admiration. But, more importantly, Costello delivers a lavish blanket.
‘American Skin (41 shots) – Mary J Blige & Kendrick Lamar
There is something completely striking about Springsteen’s “American Skin (41 Shots)”. It not only captures the tragedy of the time, but feels more relevant today than ever. The song, written about the all-too-common wave of police shootings, is enough to bring tears to your eyes and action to your hearts. But he takes it up a notch when played by Mary J Blige.
First sang for Hilary Clinton in 2016, Blige eventually recruited Kendrick Lamar to provide a stellar verse for the song. Unfortunately, despite a few leaks, the track never got the release it deserved. In fact, it was deleted from almost every channel around. Instead, we need to DIY the two parts below. What’s remarkable is that even doing some sewing on YouTube, the song still feels like a revolutionary moment.
“Descending Train” – Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile is a blanket fan. A devoted music lover as well as a creator, Vile has often lent his unique guitar sound and voice to another’s song. Given Springsteen’s wonderful “Downbound Train”, he delivers another classic. From Springsteen’s flagship album Born in the United States, the trail has been traveled endlessly, but Vile’s is rewarded as the best.
Vile, naturally, takes the song back to the very dirt it was born from. Filled with fuzzy guitars and Vile’s natural drawl, the song perhaps sounds even more relevant than before. There is a rawness in the version of Vile that penetrates under your skin and stays lodged in your brain. It’s a beautiful piece and a wonderful tribute to The Boss.