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10 Amazing Songs Bruce Springsteen Cut From ‘Born in the U.S.A.’

For other artists, these tracks would have beeen career highlights, but for Bruce, they were merely outtakes

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Earlier this summer, Born in the U.S.A. turned 30. Bruce Springsteen was a superstar prior to making the album, but its release brought him to an entirely new level of pop stardom: All of a sudden, the 34-year-old had singles in heavy rotation on Top 40 radio, and he was packing stadiums all across the country. Few besides Michael Jackson could compete. 

Springsteen had spent more than two years perfecting the record, constantly shifting around the track listing. Nobody knows exactly how many songs were considered during this time, but Max Weinberg has said there were upwards of 80. Some came out as B-sides and others surfaced on box sets, hits compilations and bootlegs. Others remain in the vault and probably won't be heard until the inevitable Born in the U.S.A. deluxe reissue. Here are 10 tracks that didn't make the final 12 but are amazing nonetheless. 

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

7

“Pink Cadillac”

During the Born in the U.S.A. tour, Springsteen would typically introduce "Pink Cadillac" with a skit in which he used the voice of a televangelist or used car salesman to call the tune "a song about the conflict between worldly things and spiritual health, between desires of the flesh and spiritual ecstasy." He wasn't entirely kidding: The second verse here is one of the most sexually charged in the entire E Street catalog, containing the immortal lines, "They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple/
But man I ain't going for that/
I know it was her pink Cadillac." A B-side for "Dancing in the Dark." the track eventually became a Top 10 hit when Natalie Cole covered it in 1988, but these days Springsteen rarely plays it live.

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

6

“This Hard Land”

This song's mix of Dust Bowl folk and Jersey Shore barroom rock splits the difference between the dark, acoustic instrumentation of Nebraska and the revved up Americana of Born in the U.S.A. Telling the story of a brother and sister "blowin' around from town to town/lookin' for a place to stand," "This Hard Land became a favorite of drummer Max Weinberg and was played live regularly on the Ghost of Tom Joad solo acoustic tour.  

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

5

“Lion’s Den”

Grabbing lyrics from the Hebrew Bible's Book of Daniel, "Lion's Den" was one of the earliest – and lightest – recordings cut for Born in the U.S.A. Eventually, Springsteen came to regret not giving it a proper release, saying in 1998, "I should have put that out! Why didn't I put that out? It sounds like a hit now. The band is playing great and the horns come in and it has a great chorus."

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

4

“Johnny Bye-Bye”

While the title and opening two lines of "Johnny Bye-Bye" allude to Chuck Berry's 1960 song "Bye Bye Johnny," the stripped-down tune ultimately pays homage to Elvis Presley and discusses how Springsteen was affected by his death. Particularly, Bruce has said that the song is a reaction to the "type of fame Elvis had . . .the pressure of it, the isolation that it seems to require" and that it was recorded in the wake of Nebraska as part of a "series of songs with a small, little rhythm section."

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

3

“Seeds”

Originally known as "Gone Gone Gone," this unreleased song became one of the political centerpieces of the Born in the U.S.A. tour: On the Live 1975-85 compilation, it appears in the middle of a run that includes "Born in the U.S.A.," "The River," and a cover of Edwin Starr's "War." In the liner notes, Springsteen wrote that this was one of the recordings that led producer Jon Landau to think, "We might have something here." Appropriately, the tune returned to Springsteen's live set in 2009, not long after America's economy tanked again. 

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

2

“My Love Will Not Let You Down”

Despite being cut from Born in the U.S.A., this song has become a huge fan favorite ever since Springsteen resurrected it for the turn-of-the-century E Street reunion tour. Over a propulsive Weinberg drumbeat, the singer's promise that his "love will not let you down" seems to extend not only to the girl he's been searching for but also to fans that fill up stadiums to see him play. Originally, Landau wanted this song to open Side Two, but "No Surrender" eventually took the slot. 

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: USA Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN, performing live onstage on Born In The USA tour (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

1

“Shut Out the Light”

Drawing inspiration from the book Born on the Fourth of July, "Shut Out the Light" tells the story of Johnson Lineir and the psychological torment that he and other veterans faced when returning from Vietnam. After arriving to a bittersweet welcome party, Lineir leaves his friends and family, goes out to the middle of a dark, wet forest and "stares across the lights of the city and dreams of where he's been." Something this powerful would be a career highlight for most songwriters, but for Springsteen it was a mere B-side. 

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