Bruce Springsteen, also known as “The Boss,” is not only a masterful songwriter and performer of his own hits but also a wizard at breathing new life into classic covers during his legendary live performances. The E Street Band’s ability to infuse energy and intensity into these renditions showcases Springsteen’s musical prowess. Here are six exceptional live cover songs that Springsteen and his band have perfected over the years.
6. “Trapped” (Original by Jimmy Cliff)
Jimmy Cliff’s soulful original took a transformative turn in Springsteen’s hands. With added atmosphere and intensified intensity, Springsteen’s rendition of “Trapped” became a concert favorite, marked by mournful verses and a cathartic chorus that resonates with raw emotion.
5. “Jersey Girl” (Original by Tom Waits)
While originally penned by Tom Waits, “Jersey Girl” has become synonymous with Springsteen. With minimal arrangement changes but a significant infusion of Clarence Clemons’ saxophone, Springsteen’s version pays homage to his home state and consistently elicits cheers whenever performed.
4. “Quarter to Three” (Original by Gary U.S. Bonds)
Drawing from his love of ’60s soul and R&B, Springsteen often turns to these genres for cover material. “Quarter to Three” stands out for its infectious party vibe and is frequently featured in encores. This choice reflects Springsteen’s admiration for Gary U.S. Bonds, a sentiment that later translated into a collaborative hit in the ’80s.
3. “War” (Original by Edwin Starr)
Springsteen’s rendition of “War” during the Born in the U.S.A. Tour became a highlight, showcasing the E Street Band’s incendiary live performance. The song’s powerful message, coupled with the band’s energy, earned Springsteen another Top 10 hit, solidifying his ability to reinterpret classics for a new audience.
2. “Chimes of Freedom” (Original by Bob Dylan)
Adapting Bob Dylan’s poetic meditation on the world, Springsteen mimicked The Byrds’ arrangement for “Chimes of Freedom.” With Roy Bittan’s keyboards adding a glistening touch, Springsteen’s version resonates with timeless themes, making it a fitting title track for a live EP capturing the Tunnel of Love Express Tour’s best moments.
1. “My Ride’s Here” (Original by Warren Zevon)
In a touching tribute to the late Warren Zevon, Springsteen performed “My Ride’s Here” just days after Zevon’s passing. Slowing down the tempo and emphasizing the elegiac elements, Springsteen, accompanied by Soozie Tyrell’s violin and Danny Federici’s accordion, delivered a poignant rendition that stands as a beautiful homage to his friend.