The Analog Kid blog has only been in existence for two days, and I am already receiving requests. One such request asked for something “obscure.” Would a Bruce Springsteen song that has never been officially released qualify as obscure? I certainly hope so!
In 1982, Springsteen was already deep into work on the record that would eventually become Born In The USA. As always, the prolific Boss was producing more material than he could ever hope to use. Bruce’s manager Jon Landau asked Bruce if he would consider writing a song for Donna Summer– a song that would incorporate rock elements with Donna’s trademark dance rhythms. Bruce quickly wrote the song and the E Street Band recorded a demo for Donna.
This is that demo:
I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this the same version of “Cover Me” that you heard 10,000 times on the radio in 1984? Why yes. Yes it is.
When Springsteen finished recording the demo, Landau took one listen to the song and said, “You’re not giving that one away to anyone. Write another one just like that, but different.” Landau obviously knew a hit song when he heard one, as evidenced by the fact that Bruce’s untouched demo recording of “Cover Me” reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1984. The demo had been recorded so quickly that Garry W. Tallent didn’t even have the chance to put a proper bass line on the recording. No matter; a great song is a great song, and Landau clearly earned his 10% when he insisted Bruce hold on to the track.
Bruce then went back to work and recorded another new song for Donna. It had a very similar sound and feel to “Cover Me,” and this time the song did make its way to Summer. She recorded “Protection” in 1982 with Quincy Jones behind the board, and Springsteen himself on guitar (check out the killer solo at the end!) and backing vocals. E Street Band member Roy Bittan also added keyboards. “Protection” was released on Summer’s self-titled 1982 album, and she received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the track.
Donna Summer: “Protection” (Bruce Springsteen)
From the album Donna Summer
Geffen Records, 1982
Bruce’s version of “Protection” has never been released on an official recording, although it was considered a candidate for inclusion on Born In The USA up until the very end. Speculation is high that we may see a 30th Anniversary Born In The U.S.A. box set sometime next year, and I’m betting “Protection” will be on it. But surprise! You don’t have to wait until next year to hear it, thanks to my vast vault of Springsteen rarities and bootlegs.
So here you go: a completely unreleased Bruce Springsteen song from 1982 with the full E Street Band. I hope this adequately fulfills the request for something obscure!
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: “Protection” (Bruce Springsteen)
Previously Unreleased, 1982
Bruce supposedly recorded almost 100 songs during the two years he worked on Born In The U.S.A., and to date only about 35 have seen the light of day. If the rest of the outtakes are as good as “Protection,” it should be one hell of a 30th Anniversary box set.
Thanks to Dave Marsh and his great book Glory Days for providing information used in today’s blog.
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
If you put out big records in the ’80s, you had to put out 12″ singles too. Bruce was no exception. Here is the “Radio” mix of “Cover Me,” which I can damn well guarantee that I never heard even once “On The Radio.”
Bruce Springsteen: “Cover Me (Radio)” (Bruce Springsteen)
From the 12″ single Cover Me
Columbia Records, 1984
Donna Summer: “On The Radio” (Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder)
From the album On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II
Casablanca Records, 1979