This entry, and Because the Night (co-written songs part 1), focus on the relatively rare occasions where Bruce Springsteen has co-credit on songs. As you will learn the reason for the co-credits are either that the collaborators have co-written or finished something he started OR had their song amended by Springsteen.
I don’t claim that the songs mentioned in this and the first blogpost are the complete list of co-written songs. All of the songs I mention have been either recorded or released in some format, so this doesn’t include live-only re-writes, like random changes of the lyrics of a cover.
E Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan and Bruce Springsteen co-wrote three songs during the Human Touch sessions. Bittan wrote the music and Springsteen the lyrics.
Roll Of The Dice was their first collaboration and also Springsteen’s first teamwork with a band member. Bittan had created the music on the computer, but the vocals and the lyrics were missing. He played Springsteen the track and the next morning Bruce had written the lyrics to that song and two others. The basic track was recorded in Springsteen’s apartment.
The song breathes energy and optimism. The singer (Springsteen himself?) is determined to let go of his fears. He is trying to get up the nerve to take a chance. Remember that this was around the same time that Springsteen the E Street Band were disbanded. It was released on the album Human Touch in 1992.
Real World is another Bittan and Springsteen collaboration. It was released on Human Touch. Springsteen’s vocal delivery is straight, powerful and striking alongside soul singer Sam Moore, who sings with Springsteen on this song.
Ain’t no chuch bells ringing
Ain’t no flags unfurled
Just me and you and the love we’re bringing
Into the real world
The Human Touch outtake Trouble in Paradise released on Tracks (1998) is the third song where Bittan and Springsteen teamed up. The writing and recording of the three songs mentioned marked the start of the Human Touch sessions where at least 25 songs were recorded (14 of them ended up on the album), most of them indicative of an artist searching for a new path. During the recording sessions a variety of studio musicians and background vocalists were used.
One more song on the Human Touch album had a co-writer. Sonny Boy Williamson has co-credit on the bluesy song Cross My Heart.
Bruce Springsteen and Joe Grushecky have collaborated a great deal during the years. The collaboration has resulted in a number of co-written songs but also in recordnings and performances where they both have participated using vocals and various instruments.
American Babylon, that was released in 1995, is an album that Springsteen helped produce (all songs except the title track). In addition to producing the album, Springsteen also participated in the recordings of most of the songs, contributing with guitar, harmonica, and mandolin.They also co-wrote the songs Dark and Bloody Ground and Homestead, which (according to Grushecky) is about “all little steel town back in Pittsburgh”
1945 is a song written by Joe Grushecky and Bruce Springsteen in 1995, The song was released on Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers’ album Coming Home (1997). Springsteen wrote most of the music and Grushecky most of the lyrics. The album also includes three other songs that Grushecky co-wrote with Springsteen: Cheap Motel, I’m Not Sleeping and Idiot’s Delight.
In 1997/1998 Grushecky and Springsteen co-wrote the song Code of Silence. Bruce Springsteen released a live version on the complication album The Essential Bruce Springsteen (2003) and later the song was released on Grushecky’s album A Good Life (2006), where Springsteen joined in for some guitar and vocals.
Bruce Springsteen also participated on Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers’ album East Carson Street (2009). He co-wrote the song Another Thin Line, where he also sings duet vocals with Grushecky and plays the lead guitar. He also plays guitar on two other songs on that album.
The story behind the credits of the song Bring ’em Home is a bit complicated: Pete Seeger wrote the song Bring them home (If You Love Your Uncle Sam) in 1965, then (during the invasion of Iraq) record producer Jim Musselman added a new verse. When Springsteen adapted the song he removed some verses and also added some of his own. The new version became a song of its own: Bring ‘Em Home
The song How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live was written by Blind Alfred Reed in the 1920s. Bruce kept the first verse and the refrain as he wrote his own song in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was included on the album We Shall Overcome: the Seeger Sessions – American Land Edition (2006) and Live in Dublin (2007).
On October 31, 2008 the song A Night With the Jersey Devil was released as a free download-only single on Bruce Springsteen’s official website as a “Halloween treat”. It was accompanied by a video and a handwritten greeting:
Dear Friends and Fans,
if you grew up in central or south Jersey, you grew up with the “Jersey Devil.”
Here’s a little musical Halloween treat. Have fun!
– Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen shares the song’s writing credits with the two co-writers of Baby Blue, Robert Jones and Gene Vincent, since there are portions of that song (specifically, one verse – featured here as the last verse) in it. The song is described as “a blues tune with bullet mic vocals”. It was latet released on 7″ vinyl along with What Love Can Do on April 18, 2009 as part of the Record Store Day promotion.
Scott Lapatine, Editor-in-Chief of “Stereogum”, wrote when it was released that: “It’s his scariest song since “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).”” 🤣
This concludes this series of co-written songs. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Once again a big shout-our to Dan French for suggesting the theme.
(Bittan) © Kevin Mazur / Getty Images,
(Grushecky) Mike Coppola/Getty Images