Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Bruce Springsteen Deep Cuts – Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Bruce Springsteen Deep Cuts

From “The Promise to “Racing in the Street,” your favorite lesser-known Springsteen songs

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen performs at Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom in Atlanta, GA, 1975. (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)

Tom Hill/WireImage

Bruce Springsteen recently announced plans to release a box set containing remastered editions of his first seven albums. Some fans were dismayed that they're getting this over a River box set, but most were thrilled to hear that so many of his key works are getting sonic upgrades. It's long overdue. We figured this was a good time to poll our readers and determine their favorite Springsteen deep cuts. Here are the results. 

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5

“New York City Serenade”

Anyone that claims to fully understand the meaning of "New York City Serenade" is either lying or delusional. In the 1973 masterpiece, we meet Billy and Diamond Jackie, who "boogaloo down Broadway
and come back home with the loot." Along the way, they meet a jazz man that plays them a serenade. That thin story stretches to ten minutes, with the help of an extended piano intro by David Sancious and horn work by Clarence Clemons and Albee Tellone. The track was brought back in 1999 after a long absence, and it never sounded better than it did in July of 2013 when Springsteen and the E Street Band played it with a string section. 

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4

“Jungleland”

Imagine a cross between "West Side Story" and "Thunder Road" and you'll probably still not conjure up "Jungleland," but you might get close. The nearly 10-minute song wraps up Born to Run bringing the story from the swamps of Jersey, across the river and into Manhattan. The change of scenery doesn't exactly lighten the mood. If anything, it's the most tragic song on the album. There's even a body count. The track famously wraps up with a Clarence Clemons sax solo. It's not only the most beloved sax solo in a Bruce song, but maybe the complete history of rock and roll. 

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3

“Incident on 57th Street”

Written before Springsteen learned the axiom "less is more" when it comes to lyrics, "Incident on 57 Street" is the sprawling tale of the star-crossed lovers Spanish Johnny and Puerto Rican Jane. In the end, Johnny takes off to earn some "easy money" and, more than likely, meets some sort of horrible end. Good things rarely happen to the characters in these sorts of songs. All that said, the lyrics hardly matter. The song has a magical quality that makes brings Springsteen fans to tears from the first piano notes to the final cry of "Goodnight, it's all right Jane." 

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2

“Trapped”

"Trapped" is an extremely obscure 1970s Jimmy Cliff tune that Springsteen began playing in 1981. His radically re-arranged rendition became an instant fan-favorite, and in 1985 he released a live version on the We Are the World album. The song stuck around, getting brought out frequently on the Born In The USA tour, the "Other Band" tour in 1992/'93 and many, many times in the reunion era. Many people don't even realize it's a cover by this point. 

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1

“Drive All Night”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played a stunning 115 concerts in 1978, and as the months went by some of the songs grew longer and longer as the band began improvising new bits on stage. "Backstreets" eventually doubled in length to twelve minutes, with a long improvised section in the middle where Springsteen pledged to his lover that he'd "drive all night just to buy you some shoes." That phrase stuck around his head when he began writing songs for The River, and the penultimate song on the album was born. It's the sort of song he'd have trouble cramming onto a single LP, which is why he made The River his first (and, so far, last) double album. 

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