May 072014


In the recent, bizarre Twins thread, MrHuman mentioned that Bruce Springsteen has an original song called “Tomorrow Never Knows” that is NOT a cover of the Beatles’ song by that name. What really stuck in my mind, however, was MrHuman’s belief that The Boss has never done a Beatles cover. That’s hard to believe (didn’t he sing “Imagine” the night Lennon was killed?), but I’ll take him at his word, especially because it got me thinking about what Beatles song I could imagine Springsteen covering, and how much I would be likely be irked by that cover.

After a few seconds thought, I imagined The Boss doing a somber, earnest, Dust Bowl–tinged, solo acoustic version of “Help,” with his forearms pumping under rolled-up white sleeves and biceps bulging from his vest. I heard him growling the words Help me if you can I’m feeling down. I pictured him egging on the crowd to sing along on the falsetto part at the end of the chorus—Won’t you plea-ease help me? The Boss’s teeth would grit through his turned-down mouth as he thrusts his Gibson acoustic forward and reaches for those high notes. As the final chorus with the little coda comes to  a close, I see Bruce smiling warmly, triumphantly, as pleased with his personal take on this favorite song from his teenage years as the audience is with having heard it. I see myself shaking my head and feeling like a dick for not getting swept up in the moment.

How about you? What Beatles song can you imaging hearing The Boss cover, and how would it turn out for you? Your imagined cover can result in a positive sensation; you don’t have to be a dick, like I have imagined myself being.

I look forward to your thoughts.


  14 Responses to “What Beatles Song Can You Most Imagine Bruce Springsteen Covering, and What Would the Result of His Cover Be?”

  1. Back in March 2003, he played “Tell Me Why” in Atlantic City, in memory of the Beatles having played the same venue.

    An odd and not entirely successful cover by a guy who was, at least in the first half of his career, one of the truly great cover artists ever: his deconstruction of Dylan’s “I Want You,” for instance, is revelatory.

    Oh, and he and Axl Rose performed, unrehearsed, as last-minute replacements, at John Lennon’s Hall of Fame induction, a surprisingly effective “Come Together.”

    Springsteen doesn’t have call to sing harmony vocals very often, but when he does, he’s remarkably good at it, especially given that this was on the fly.

  2. Off on a Springsteen tangent here for a video I just watched. Last night Bruce invited two kids from the pit to come on stage and share a song with him. There are two videos of it:

    I know there are some Bruce hatas out there in RTH but this to me is way beyond cool. In a lot of ways it encapsulates everything that makes Bruce great. First, inviting them up, sharing the stage. And they were absolutely totally respectful of the situation while at the same time enjoying it fully. They let Bruce have the the mic alone there in the middle of the song and then he invites them back. And even the ending where they went and hugged and presumably thanked everyone in the band. And then Bruce slips the one guy the guitar pick.

  3. 2000 Man

    I see I Saw Her Standing There as an encore song at one of his shows. He can swallow words and sing off mic and no one will care, because his giant band will be making such a ruckus behind him. He can have false endings and I can just hear him howling, “1! 2! 3! 4!” and the band picking it right back up. I figure this would be good for twenty minutes, and maybe before it he could even talk for twenty minutes about how his brother met his wife in the back seat of Earl Scheib’s Dodge. In fact, I think if he ever actually does play this, he’ll live forever because it will ever end. Kinda like a tire fire.

  4. THAT’S what I’m talking about, 2K!

    Not that I didn’t appreciate the fine asides that preceded this post. That version of “Tell Me Why,” while not incredible, is cool because it’s a song that perfectly intersects with The Boss’ pre-Beatles influences and, of course, The Beatles’ pre-Beatles influences. The E-Street Band even brings out the Phil Spector vibe that underlies the song. I appreciate that, and I appreciate the band’s approach on this slightly obscure Beatles song. Thanks for turning me onto this, Scott (the other one) – possessor of one of my favorite RTH handles, I must say.

  5. misterioso

    “Got to Get You Into My Life.” And it would sounds exactly like Bruce Springsteen doing “Got to Get You Into My Life.” And the Big Man would blow a honking solo at the end.

  6. Man, I’m such a cynic. There’s much to admire about this stuff, I agree, but what’s with the chubby boy in the shorts (and, believe it or not, I’m not about to give him shit for wearing shorts on stage)? As “No Surrender” comes to a close, beginning at 2:45, he acts as a teenage undercover bodyguard, clearing his buddy out of The Boss’ range so He can bring the song home without interruption. From that point forward I can’t help but see the kid as being too in the know, too choreographed, too respectful of Bruce. Does anyone else question whether he’s a plant?

  7. misterioso

    I hadn’t heard the cover of I Want You in a long time. It is indeed rather good, if too long.

  8. Hank Fan


  9. cherguevara

    I could really hear him covering “Gimmie Some Truth,” but I guess that’s not truly a Beatles tune. Maybe he could do his thing to Dr. Robert, maybe toss in a little glockenspiel, let the keyboard players have a little moment in those breaks. Except his Dr Robert is a plastic surgeon.

  10. Tell Me Why is a great call because it totally has a Jersey Shore Bar Band sound about it that I never noticed until this thread.

    If we’re allowed to delve into the solo albums, I would say What is Life.

  11. A (string-tie era) Bruce joined Jagger, Harrison, Starr, Dylan, and Billy Joel doing I Saw Her Standing There at the 1988 R&R HoF ceremony.

    The intervening 26 years have not been kind to many of these. Dylan looks much the same and Bruce looks younger (courtesy of his Dr. Robert?), Jagger looks less like Skeletor, and Billy Joel looks like it’s from 50 years ago.

  12. BigSteve

    I immediately thought of I Saw her Standing There too. He must have played the Beatles’ arrangement of Twist & Shout at some point in his career. I can also hear him doing those Larry Williams songs the way the Beatles did them — Slow Down, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Bad Boy.

  13. For whatever it’s worth, I only meant that he’s never covered “Tomorrow Never Knows”. Sorry if that was unclear.

    But yeah, I definitely think he’d be more comfortable doing pre-Rubber Soul stuff.

  14. I could see Bruce doing “Back in the USSR” the next time he plays Russia. I can definitely see/hear in my mind’s eye/ear, Patti joining him at the mic to sing the “ooohs” during the break with the rest of the band hamming it up too.

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