Springsteen Wins Early Songs

U.S. judge rules that album of earliest recordings belongs to Bruce

June 27, 2001 12:00 AM ET

A U.S. District Court Judge awarded Bruce Springsteen copyright control of an album of songs he composed and recorded between 1970 and 1972, dismissing a suit filed against Springsteen by Pony Express Records, who attempted to gain control of the songs' rights.

The songs were held for two decades by a former Springsteen manager. In the early Nineties, he sold them to Pony Express, without the artist's permission; the songs were subsequently licensed to a British label. Pony Express released the songs as an album titled Before the Fame.

In 1998, Springsteen won a court battle that granted him control of the album in the U.K., a ruling that helped helped shape the new ruling, by U.S. District Court Judge Harold Ackerman in Newark, N.J. As a result of Ackerman's ruling, Pony Express has been ordered to stop selling the recording and to destroy existing copies. Springsteen still plans to seek damages based on court costs and copies already sold.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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