Five Bruce Springsteen covers that are better than the originals

When it comes to putting what is appealing about an artist into words, there is background, a plethora of information, and a rich understanding of their cultural impact that are needed to highlight their significance properly. With Bruce Springsteen, while all this information is available, showing his panache as a musician isn’t necessary. All you need to understand the impact of Springsteen is time with his music; the rest will speak for itself.

Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band have a hold over sound that few artists could replicate. Their live shows are famed as their love for what they do is present in every single second, and the quality with which they perform is inspired. There is enough of a reputation surrounding them that, despite Springsteen touring repeatedly, he still can sell out stadiums worldwide in minutes.

This connection with music and his ability to play it perfectly means that Springsteen is a master of the cover. Whether he is playing a song on a whim or likes something so much he decides to dedicate studio time to it, Springsteen can perform whatever cover he sets his mind to perfectly. The result is a plethora of instances where Springsteen embodies another artist and puts his own spin on their music.

So, what are some of ‘The Boss’ best covers? There are plenty to choose from, but this list will select five of the best in what is a celebration of Springsteen, the artists he admires and music as a whole.

Bruce Springsteen’s five best covers:
‘My Rides Here’ – Warren Zevon
Described by Springsteen as “one of the great American songwriters,” in the introduction to this cover, Bruce’s interpretation of Warren Zevon’s ‘My Rides Here,’ is a beautiful tribute. This is the titular track from Zevon’s 2002 album, and it pays a gorgeous homage to his songwriting ability.

The harmonica that plays throughout and Springsteen’s vocals give the song a gritty undertone. For a track that doesn’t change in tone throughout, the listener is continuously engaged by The Boss’s vocal ability as he sings Zevon’s excellent narrative-driven lyrics.

‘Chimes of Freedom’ – Bob Dylan
Like so many artists, Springsteen has massive admiration for Bob Dylan. Dylan’s influence on ‘The Boss’ can be heard throughout his music. Springsteen can discuss the world around him and talk about real people in a way that holds a mirror up to his surroundings, making the world around him accessible through sound alone. Dylan championed this writing style, too, so it is to be expected that Springsteen would cover him.

When performing in Stockholm, Springsteen referred to the United Nations and the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights signing. He praised the document and announced he would go on tour with Amnesty in honour of the anniversary. The singer then dedicated his cover of Dylan’s ‘Chimes of Freedom’ to Amnesty and supporting human rights. His version of the song was uplifting and musically layered throughout. It’s a genuinely astonishing rendition of a beautiful song with mountains of heart buried at the centre of it.

‘War’ – Edwin Starr
During a gig at the LA Coliseum, Bruce Springsteen surprised the audience with a performance of Edwin Starr’s ‘War.’ In the introduction, he spoke about war being on TV every night in the 1960s and dedicated the track to all the young people in the audience, reminiscing on his friends of a similar age who had to go and fight. He encourages young people to think for themselves and stand against corruption and evil.

Starr’s original version of the song is packed full of soul, so all Springsteen does with his cover is mimic it with his American rock-sounding guitars. The result is a perfect protest song that is as infectious as the original. Combine the sound with the introduction; the whole thing is a very moving listen, filled with pain and anger.

‘Jersey Girl’ – Tom Waits
For many people, this track has become so synonymous with Springsteen that many fans would think he wrote it himself, but Tom Waits initially penned it. ‘The Boss’ can perform this track beautifully, though, as the slow and soulful start is difficult not to fall in love with. Once you’re engaged, the song builds from there in a gorgeous rendition of a classic.

Whenever Springsteen played in his home state, it became a tradition for him to get out the Waits original, and on the recordings of the track, you can hear just how much it means to the crowd as he sings along. The song is romantic in its arrangement, and though the lyrics are about a girl, Springsteen serenades his home city with every word. It’s truly majestic.

‘Quarter to Three’ – U.S. Bonds
A lot of the time, people will cover songs to pay tribute to friends (as we saw with Springsteen’s cover of Zevon). Other times, covers are done for the audience (as with ‘Jersey Girl’), and finally, they are done because the artists love the music. With ‘Quarter to Three,’ it’s the latter.

Springsteen has always been a big fan of soul and R&B music since the ‘60s; subsequently, that music has held a large part of his heart, meaning he is always happy to bring it out. He does so with ‘Quarter to Three,’ a song originally written by U.S. Bonds, whom Springsteen greatly admired. With this cover, you can hear someone who loves music play some of the first music he grew fond of. It’s a treat to listen to, and knowing how much fun the band are having playing it only adds to the experience.

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