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15 Insanely Great Bruce Springsteen Songs You’ve Never Heard

Listen to the best unreleased treasures of Springsteen’s catalog

Bruce Springsteen

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With news breaking about an E Street Band 2014 tour, we raided the vaults for our dream list of awesome, unknown Bruce Springsteen songs we'd love to hear him to play. (It's unlikely, but you never know!) Some of these were recorded by his pre-E Street crews Steel Mill and the Bruce Springsteen Band, while others are outtakes from classic studio albums. Here are 15 of the best. If there's ever a sequel to 1998's rarities collection Tracks, these all deserve to make the cut.

By Andy Greene

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‘Lonely Night in the Park’ (1974)

There was no Bruce Springsteen album in 1974, but he wrote new material through much of the year. "Lonely Night in the Park" was originally slated for his third disc, and manager Jon Landau argued that this song should have appeared on Born to Run instead of "Meeting Across the River." He was overruled.

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‘Visitation at Fort Horn’ (1972)

"Visitation at Fort Horn" was originally slated for Greetings From Asbury Park, but Clive Davis didn't hear a hit on the LP. He sent Springsteen back to the studio, where he recorded "Spirit in the Night" and "Blinded By the Light." To make room he, cut "Visitation at Ford Hood," a wordy epic that recalls "Lost in the Flood."

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‘If I Was the Priest’ (1972)

The wildly sacriligeous Jesus-in-the-Wild-West tale "If I Was the Priest" has never been released in any official capacity, but it remains one of the most important songs in the Springsteen catalog. He played it for Columbia exec John Hammond at their first meeting – and Hammond signed the young songwriter, hoping that his debut LP would be all solo songs like this.

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‘Song for Orphans’ (1972)

Springsteen almost never plays pre-Greetings From Asbury Park songs in concert, so fans have to scour bootlegs to hear them. "Song for Orphans" is a rare exception. Out of nowhere, he dug it out in 2005 at a Trenton stop of his Devils and Dust tour. The handful of people in the arena who knew the song went insane. 

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‘Cowboys of the Sea’ (1972)

This is another song that Springsteen played for John Hammond at his Columbia audition in 1972. He attempted a studio version during the Greetings sessions, but it didn't come close to making the final cut. It's a totally strange tale about cowboys who "herd the fishes of the deep . . . at the bottom of the sea."

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‘Street Queen’ (1972)

This is yet another song from Springsteen's 1972 demo sessions with John Hammond. It's sort of a proto-"Kitty's Back," about a girl with "Cadillac hips," eyes that are "certified glass" and "legs just like a limousine."

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‘Tokyo’ (1973)

"Tokyo" was an early contender for The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. Springsteen regularly played it live, but epics like "Rosalita" and "New York City Serenade" only left room for seven songs. "Tokyo" was yanked, though many amazing live recordings survive. It's a rare chance to hear Garry Tallent on the tuba. 

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‘Tiger Rose’ (1995)

This tune, recorded during the Ghost of Tom Joad sessions, was recorded by rockabilly hero Sonny Burgess and included on the 1997 Springsteen tribute disc One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen and Burgess played it together at a 9/11 benefit concert in Red Bank, New Jersey in 2001. 

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