Magazine Supplements

The Backstreets Liner Notes to Tracks


[PDF v1.1] By Erik Flannigan and Christopher Phillips. A 12-page booklet, sized to fit the Tracks box set, originally bound and included with Backstreets Magazine #61 (Winter, 1998), now sold out.

From the 1998 introduction: "Beyond his insightful introductory note, Bruce Springsteen elected not to annotate the 66 songs included on Tracks. However, with the release of the box set, he did give an unprecedented number of interviews to publications like Billboard and MOJO which revealed fascinating background details about these songs, how he chose them, and why they were left off of the albums in the first place. Over the last 19 years that this magazine has been published, the editors of Backstreets have attempted to catalog Springsteen's recording and performance history from a fan’s perspective, albeit at times an obsessive one. This booklet takes a comprehensive look at all 66 songs on Tracks by presenting some of Springsteen's own comments about the material in context with each track's researched history (correcting a few Tracks typos along the way) and the editors' contemporary analysis. It is in no way intended to replace the Tracks booklet, nor is it meant as our statement as to what kind of liner notes should have been included in Tracks. In the purest sense of the word it is a supplement, one which we hope will broaden our readers' understanding and interest in 66 fascinating songs recorded over 27 years. If Tracks itself presented 'the alternate route,' consider this booklet the alternate road map." -- The Editors of Backstreets

If this sort of thing is up your alley, also see:

  • "The Video Anthology Viewer's Guide" (Video Anthology 1978-2000, video-by-video) by Christopher Phillips, in Backstreets #70
  • "The Devil's in the Details" (Devils & Dust, song-by-song) by Christopher Phillips, in Backstreets #83/84

Other PDFs

Didn't Have to Die


[English] By Shawn Poole. "Didn't Have To Die: How an Encounter That Never Happened Might Have Helped to Change History If It Had" was originally published in Spanish in The Stone Pony Magazine issue 53, September 2009.

Happy 75th birthday, Elvis! 2010 marks the 75th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley, born on January 8, 1935. A few years ago, Backstreets Magazine celebrated the 50th anniversary of Elvis' first record with a massive fourteen-page, multi-author feature (in issue #80) on Elvis Presley's enormous and enduring influence on Bruce Springsteen’s career. One of our readers, Henry Klingeman, wrote us shortly thereafter to suggest a future exploration of what kind of album Bruce and Elvis might have made together if they had ever gotten the chance.

Shawn Poole, the main architect of our 2004 Elvis/Bruce feature, eventually took Henry's suggestion and ran with it. The result is a fun piece of speculative fiction that nevertheless concocts a very plausible scenario in which "The King" and "The Boss" cross paths and actually record together.

"Didn't Have To Die: How An Encounter That Never Happened Might Have Helped To Change History If It Had" was published recently in the Barcelona-based Springsteen magazine The Stone Pony, translated by Núria Gasca with graphics designed by "Juanito 99." To celebrate what would have been Elvis' 75th birthday, we present the complete English version of Shawn's essay here as a free PDF download. Posted with permission of Shawn J. Poole, with special thanks to Joan Colet and Xavier Agut at The Stone Pony Club in Barcelona for making it possible.

Click thumbnail to download high-resolution image

Bruce Springsteen & Danny Federici
November 14, 2007 - Pittsburgh, PA
This photograph may be published at no charge on a non-exclusive basis to mark the passing of E Street Band organist/keyboardist Danny Federici on April 17, 2008.

Credit: Guy Aceto/Backstreets

Bruce Springsteen, Danny Federici & Roy Bittan
November 18, 2007 - Boston, MA
This photograph may be published at no charge on a non-exclusive basis to mark the passing of E Street Band organist/keyboardist Danny Federici on April 17, 2008.

Credit: A.M. Saddler/Backstreets

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Nalani & Sarina

"We Take Care of Our Own"

Exclusive digital download

Check out Nalani & Sarina's 2018 single "Young & Inexperienced" here, and visit their website at

Nalani & Sarina

"Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me"
"Happy Xmas (War is Over)"

Exclusive digital downloads

Nalani & Sarina

"No Surrender"

Exclusive digital download

Stream Nalani & Sarina's 2015 EP Scattered World here, and visit their website at

Nalani & Sarina

"Save My Love"

Exclusive digital download

Recorded exclusively for; listen to our interview with Nalani & Sarina here, and visit their website at

Keyboards/Vocals: Nalani
Guitar/Vocals: Sarina
Producer/Additional Guitars: Greg Drew
Co-Producer/Engineer: Julian Herzfeld
Recorded at Tardis Studio, Wayne, PA
Arranged by Nalani, Sarina and Greg Drew

Stewart Francke

"Drive North"

From the LP Love Implied

On Stewart Francke's 2011 album Heartless World, his pal Bruce Springsteen joined him on "Summer Soldier (Holler If Ya Hear Me)," which Stewart kindly offered us as a free download below. Now, the Detroit singer/songwriter has released the follow-up to Heartless World, and he once again wanted to offer up a track to Backstreets readers. "No Bruce on anything this time," Stewart tells us of the new Love Implied, "but his involvement with 'Summer Soldier' brought me a lot of new fans worldwide. I've got a song on this new cd called "Drive North" that I think your readership would dig." Agreed — imagine if Springsteen had taken "In Michigan" seriously. For more, visit his website at


Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls

"Runnin' Like a River"

From the LP Packed for Exile

Jason Federici's accordion is all over the Greedy Soul's "Runnin' Like a River," the third track from their album released July 3, 2012. Bandleader Heath describes their music as "Americana in terms of being American country, folk, blues, punk and rock ‘n’ roll influenced. We like to call it Post-Americana Acoustelectric, Agit-pop, Arena Folkountry Raw.... It's all working class music, with common themes — love, loss, redemption and the search for justice." Order Packed For Exile and find more info at

Elliott Murphy

"Poise 'N Grace"

From the LP Elliott Murphy

The lead-off track to Elliott's self-titled album contains a lyrical tip of the hat to his old friend Bruce Springsteen. Also newly available from Elliott are a new live album, Just a Story From New York, and a remastered reissue, Apres le Deluge. See for ordering details and much more.

Clarence Clemons

"Garden of Memories"

Previously unreleased

Clarence's Temple of Soul shows usually ended with "Pink Cadillac," but he and his music director John Colby would often encore with this elegiac Big Man composition.

Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman

"It Begins Tonight"

From the LP World Wide Rebel Songs

Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello blew minds on the Magic tour when he joined Bruce and the E Street Band for a scorching "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Their initial performance was captured for posterity on the Wrecking Ball 10-inch and, in both audio and video formats, the Magic Tour Highlights digital EP.

That electric version notwithstanding, it was actually Springsteen's Tom Joad troubadour mode that inspired Morello's solo project, The Nightwatchman. "My transformative live experience — the first time I saw Bruce and was bowled over — was the Ghost of Tom Joad tour," Morello tells Backstreets. "I was very moved at how heavy and powerful a solo acoustic performance could be. That definitely planted the seeds for my later Nightwatchman work."

As Springsteen said in his concert intro, "Tommy also makes great acoustic records." But as time has gone by, Morello's Nightwatchman recordings have evolved to encompass a wider sonic spectrum, reincorporating Rage-style riffs. He tells us that his new one, World Wide Rebel Songs, is "Part Johnny Cash, part Che Guevara, and part Marshall stack. That was the modus operandi. This is the 14th studio record of my career, and I figured if I'm not comfortable now with all elements of my artistic personality, I'm never going to be."

"The song 'It Begins Tonight' I wrote as an opening song for the concert. I wanted somethng that would encapsulate both musically and personally what I'm about this time around: it has the political angst and the somewhat bleak world view... but it's got a hell of a guitar solo," he laughs.

Nils Lofgren

"When You Are Loved"

From [9/11/11]

"When You Are Loved" is a song written to honor the love, courage and spirit of the 9-11 victims and their surviving family members. In this instance, a grieving wife and mother, with a young son, finds the strength and spirit to carry on, honoring her fallen husband and loving their child.

Whether a fireman, policeman, EMT or any of the hundreds of first responders and citizens who heroically gave their lives saving others, in addition to the thousands of victims, the surviving parents and family of every age, now have a mountain of grief to navigate and we all remain inspired and grateful at their dignity and spirit on this lifelong, overwhelming journey.

May God bless you all and may God bless America.
—Nils Lofgren

Daniele Groff

"Radio Nowhere"

From the LP For You 2: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen

Way back in 1995, Ermanno Labianca — editor of the late, great Italian Springsteen fanzine Follow That Dream, as well as author of books such as Local Hero and Real World — produced a Bruce Springsteen tribute album called For You. For the new millenium, Labianca doubles down with For You 2: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen, a two-CD set featuring 25 tracks on his own label, Route 61 Music. Labianca himself produced this stunning piano arrangement of "Radio Nowhere," telling Backstreets, "I am really proud of this one, because it's an original rendition." Other covers across the two discs span eras from "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" to "Tomorrow Never Knows," with obscure cuts like "Iceman," "Matamoros Banks," and the wildly reimagined blues stomp of "Factory" along the way. For more on the album, and to order copies of both For You and For You 2, visit

Bruce Benson featuring Clarence Clemons

"The Healing Prayer"

From the LP, The Rock Service

A 2007 recording featuring Clarence playing sax on Benson's composition, offered here to add to the many prayers, thoughts, and wishes for Clarence and his family. In lieu of receiving any money for the download, Benson simply requests that each downloader make whatever donation he or she can to Why Hunger. Under the "Type of Donation" section, donors are asked to complete the section to read, "In Honor of Clarence Clemons and The Healing Prayer."

Stewart Francke

"Summer Soldier (Holler If Ya Hear Me)"
"I'll Follow You Into the Dark"

From his LP, Heartless World

Bruce Springsteen contributes vocals to "Summer Soldier," the first single from Detroit singer/songwriter Francke's 11th album Heartless World. And for an unlisted bonus track on the CD, Francke covers Death Cab For Cutie's "I'll Follow You Into the Dark." Stewart tells us the track with Bruce "turned out really cool — but I'm proud of the whole record and think Backstreets readers and Bruce fans will dig it." You can order the CD now directly from his website at

Lorenzo Bertocchini & Elizabeth Lee

"Be True"

From the LP For You 2: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen

Way back in 1995, Ermanno Labianca — editor of the late, great Italian Springsteen fanzine Follow That Dream, as well as author of books such as Local Hero and Real World — produced a Bruce Springsteen tribute album called For You. For the new millenium, Labianca doubles down with For You 2: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen, a two-CD set featuring 25 tracks on his own label, Route 61 Music. "What I have in mind is a connection between my country and the United States," Labianca tells Backstreets, "which explains why the motto of the label is 'Americana made in Italy'" — a philosophy well represented by this duet between an Italian, Bertocchini, and an American, Lee. Other covers across the two discs span eras from "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" to "Tomorrow Never Knows," with obscure cuts like "Iceman," "Matamoros Banks," and the wildly reimagined blues stomp of "Factory" along the way. For more on the album, and to order copies of both For You and For You 2, visit

Artie Bressler, Danny Federici, Jack Scarangella

"Jingle Bells"

unreleased, from the 1980 film Christmas Evil

2010 marks the 30th anniversary of the film Christmas Evil (originally titled You Better Watch Out!), a unique Christmas-themed horror film. While it's definitely not a holiday film for the whole family to enjoy together, its artistry and just plain weirdness rank it far above standard slasher-genre fare. Delightfully twisted independent film legend John Waters calls it "the best seasonal film of all time. I wish I had kids. I'd make them watch it every year and, if they didn't like it, they’d be punished!"

Springsteen fans have an additional reason to check out the flick.  The late, great Danny Federici appears briefly in a crucial and beautiful scene.  Danny (on accordion) and fellow Jersey-Shore-connected musicians Arthur “Artie” Bressler (saxophone, played with Danny and other E Streeters on the 1980 Norman Seldin tracks released on Asbury Park, Then and Now) and Jack Scarangella (drums, an original member of Clarence Clemons & The Red Bank Rockers) play a great little version of "Jingle Bells."

Unfortunately, no soundtrack album has ever been made officially available. Through special arrangement with the film's writer/director Lewis Jackson, however, is pleased to present a small Christmas present to all: a free mp3 of Danny, Artie and Jack performing "Jingle Bells" from the film.

Plus, here's Backstreets contributor Shawn Poole's "A Visit From St. Daniel," a rather unique take on the film inspired by a 2008 screening in Philadelphia. Shawn, who did the work of tracking this stuff down, wrote a simultaneous film-review/background-piece completely in verse that pays homage to Clement C. Moore’s yuletide classic.

Christmas Evil is available on DVD from Synapse Films.  It also can be purchased or rented for video-on-demand viewing at

Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social

"Burning the Bowery"

From the LP, Love It to Life

Jesse Malin has appeared with Bruce Springsteen both on stage and on record. "Burning the Bowery" is the lead track from his 2010 album — in our opinion, Jesse's best yet — available now from Side One Dummy Records. Download only available for the month of September!

Travis Hopper


Home recording

Hopper plays in the Dallas band Elkhart. "Though it's not a well-known or popular Springsteen song, I've always liked 'Leah' off Devils & Dust," he tells us. Hopper recorded his version straight into his computer: "No microphones, everything was one take. Took about an hour. Vocals and guitar were recorded at the same time, and the rest is droning and distorted acoustic guitar and piano. I liked the idea of this simple song pushing through the static and noise — it seemed to serve the lyrics about this guy striving for something simple and better, but still out of reach. I also wanted to call out this great, simple melody by making you fight for it a little bit." He had the screen door open while recording — if you listen hard, you can hear a truck drive by at the three-minute mark.

Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls

"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"

Non-LP track

"I've been blessed to be a part of Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls. It's a great band with a great heart. Our version of "Sandy" came about as a tribute to my father who loved that song. I hope you think of him when you listen to it and visit to help us with the battle against melanoma." —Jason Federici

Willie Nile

"House of a Thousand Guitars"

From his LP, House of a Thousand Guitars

The lead, title track from Willie Nile's 2009 follow-up to the acclaimed Streets of New York, on River House Records. CD available now from Backstreet Records. For more information, visit

Mark Wright

"Real World"

From his LP, Real World: The Bruce Springsteen Project

Mark Wright is a singer/songwriter who was one of the few artists from the UK to feature on the Light of Day tribute compilation, with his version of "Two Hearts." He has rooted himself in American music and has toured with folk legend and friend of Woody Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, as well as recording at the birthplace of rock and roll, Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Now signed to indie label Revolver Records, Mark's second release for the label is a new album of ten Springsteen covers, now available from the Backstreet Records shop. This is the title track.

"Growin' Up"
"Bobby Jean" (live on WPRB)

From the EP, Autumn Was a Lark

Spring's in the air today, feels like a good time for a doubleshot from our friends & neighbors at Merge Records. Superchunk has been known to break out "Born to Run" live; on record, Superchunk/Portastatic/Merge honcho Mac McCaughan offered up two Springsteen covers on Portastatic's 2003 EP, Autumn Was a Lark. "Growin' Up" is a full-band studio take (as Mac writes in the liner notes, the band was "undeterred by one punter's description of our cover of 'Growin' Up' as 'hilarious'"), and "Bobby Jean" is a solo acoustic version performed live on WPRB in Princeton, NJ.
Josh Ritter

"The River" (live in Berlin)

Unreleased, from German radio

In April of 2007, Josh Ritter was invited to participate in the Bruce Springsteen Tribute at Carnegie Hall in New York City. That night, before Bruce himself took the stage, Josh performed a chilling, solo acoustic version of "The River." Not captured in a recording, it has remained one of the most talked-about performances from that night. But while performing an encore in concert on September 12, 2007, Ritter broke out his rendition of "The River" again for the audience in Berlin. For more on Josh, visit his MySpace page and his official site at
Automatic 7

"Atlantic City"

From the LP, At Funeral Speed

For more on this L.A.-based power trio, check out their MySpace page and the Mental Records website.
Bruce Springstone
"Bedrock Rap/(Meet) The Flintsones"
"Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

From the 12-inch single, Live at Bedrock

Bruce Springstone was created in the spring of 1982 by Baltimore musicians/songwriters Tom Chalkley and Craig Hankin. Bruce Springstone: Live at Bedrock was released in September '82 by Clean Cuts Records. The A-side features "Bedrock Rap/Meet the Flintstones," a parody of Springsteen singing the Flintstones theme; the B-side is a Springsteenesque arrangement of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," using the original 1908 lyrics. Chalkley does the lead vocals, Hankin plays rhythm guitar. Other musicians featured are John Ebersberger (drums), Ron Holloway (saxophone), Tommy Keene (lead guitar), Suzy Shaw (keyboards), and Gabor Lutor (bass). Hankin and Chalkley wrote the arrangements. Jack Heyrman produced the record which was engineered by Steve Carr at Hit & Run Studios in Rockville, MD. Chalkley and Ebersberger did the cover art. Both tracks are still in print on Rhino Records: "Bedrock Rap/Flintstones" on Dr. Demento's Greatest Novelty Records of All Time, and "Ballgame" on Baseball's Greatest Hits.

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