Bruce Springsteen will release High Hopes, an eclectic album that combines covers, re-recordings of old songs and studio outtakes from the past decade, on January 14th. “This is music I always felt needed to be released,” Springsteen said in a statement. A video for the debut single “High Hopes” was posted this morning.
The album was originally going to focus entirely on unreleased material from the past decade. Plans changed during rehearsals for Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Australian tour this past March, which featured Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello subbing in for Steve Van Zandt. Morello suggested they perform “High Hopes,” a Tim Scott McConnell song that Springsteen originally recorded with the E Street Band in 1995.
“We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it,” Springsteen said in a statement. “We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with ‘Just Like Fire Would,’ a song from one of my favorite early Australian punk bands, the Saints (check out ‘I’m Stranded’). Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level.”
High Hopes also has a cover of Dream Baby Dream, originally recorded in 1979 by the New York punk band Suicide. Springsteen regularly played the song on his 2005 solo acoustic tour and he revived it earlier this month at a benefit at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Three of the other songs – “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” “American Skin (41 Shots)” and “The Wall” – have either appeared in concert or on previous Springsteen albums. “I felt they were among the best of my writing,” Springsteen said in a statement. “And deserved a proper studio recording.”
The remaining tracks are outtakes from the albums that Springsteen recorded after reuniting with the E Street Band in 1999. The late E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici and the late E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons appear on several songs on High Hopes, though it’s unclear exactly which ones. The album was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen, though Brendan O’Brien has production credit on four of the tracks. It was recorded in New York City, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Australia.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with guest Tom Morello are playing shows in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in early 2014, but there is no word on whether they plan on coming back to North America later in the year.
Here is a complete track listing for High Hopes as well as Bruce Springsteen’s extensive notes about the album.
“High Hopes” (Tim Scott McConnell) – featuring Tom Morello
“Harry’s Place” * – featuring Tom Morello
“American Skin (41 Shots)” – featuring Tom Morello
“Just Like Fire Would” (Chris J. Bailey) – featuring Tom Morello
“Down in the Hole” *
“Heaven’s Wall” ** – featuring Tom Morello
“Frankie Fell in Love”
“This Is Your Sword”
“Hunter of Invisible Game” * – featuring Tom Morello
“The Ghost of Tom Joad” – duet with Tom Morello
“Dream Baby Dream” (Martin Rev and Alan Vega) – featuring Tom Morello
All songs written by Bruce Springsteen except as noted
Produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen
*Produced by Brendan O’Brien
**Produced by Brendan O’Brien, co-produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s ‘High Hopes’ Liner Notes
I was working on a record of some of our best unreleased material from the past decade when Tom Morello (sitting in for Steve during the Australian leg of our tour) suggested we ought to add “High Hopes” to our live set. I had cut “High Hopes,” a song by Tim Scott McConnell of the L.A. based Havalinas, in the Nineties. We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it. We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with “Just Like Fire Would,” a song from one of my favorite early Australian punk bands, the Saints (check out “I’m Stranded”). Tom and his guitar became my muse, pushing the rest of this project to another level. Thanks for the inspiration Tom.
Some of these songs, “American Skin” and “Ghost of Tom Joad,” you’ll be familiar with from our live versions. I felt they were among the best of my writing and deserved a proper studio recording. “The Wall” is something I’d played on stage a few times and remains very close to my heart. The title and idea were Joe Grushecky’s, then the song appeared after Patti and I made a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. It was inspired by my memories of Walter Cichon. Walter was one of the great early Jersey Shore rockers, who along with his brother Ray (one of my early guitar mentors) led the “Motifs.” The Motifs were a local rock band who were always a head above everybody else. Raw, sexy and rebellious, they were the heroes you aspired to be. But these were heroes you could touch, speak to, and go to with your musical inquiries. Cool, but always accessible, they were an inspiration to me, and many young working musicians in 1960s central New Jersey. Though my character in “The Wall” is a Marine, Walter was actually in the Army, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry. He was the first person I ever stood in the presence of who was filled with the mystique of the true rock star. Walter went missing in action in Vietnam in March 1968. He still performs somewhat regularly in my mind, the way he stood, dressed, held the tambourine, the casual cool, the freeness. The man who by his attitude, his walk said “you can defy all this, all of what’s here, all of what you’ve been taught, taught to fear, to love and you’ll still be alright.” His was a terrible loss to us, his loved ones and the local music scene. I still miss him.
This is music I always felt needed to be released. From the gangsters of “Harry’s Place,” the ill-prepared roomies on “Frankie Fell in Love” (shades of Steve and I bumming together in our Asbury Park apartment) the travelers in the wasteland of “Hunter of Invisible Game,” to the soldier and his visiting friend in “The Wall”, I felt they all deserved a home and a hearing. Hope you enjoy it,