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Elements shared between multiple songs

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Can we try to make a comprehensive list of times that lyrics or musical elements from one song appear in another? Usually you get this type of overlap with outtakes, but not always.


Looking in particular not just for incidental similarities, but times when one thing -- usually a lyric, but at times an exact melody -- is straight-up 100% shared between songs, generally where there's something he wanted to put in a song and played around with in an unreleased outtake, then later put on something else. Anything where you can see how one song evolved is interesting here, though.


Here are all the examples I can think of offhand -- lots from The Ties That Bind, which, as you can tell, I'm listening to right now!, but a lot from The Promise, too:


1. The guitar in River outtake "Chain Lightning" is basically a sped-up version of that of Nebraska track "State Trooper", where it'd eventually find a home.

2. The lyrics to Nebraska tracks "Open All Night" and "State Trooper", and River outtake "Living on the Edge of the World", all clearly and obviously overlap to a massive degree.

3. In another Nebaska overlap, "Debts no honest man can pay" appears in both "Atlantic City" and "Johnny 99".

4. An obscure one: the drum beat in River outtake "The Time That Never Was" is the same as that of Darkness outtake "Breakaway". (Note: This drum beat is also straight-up lifted from "It's Over" by Roy Orbison, so maybe both songs were working off of that independently of one another.)

5. Darkness outtake "Breakaway" has "The promises and the lies, they demand it / Let the hearts that have been broken stand / As the price you pay"; he must have wanted to give this line a home, as Darkness track "Badlandsultimately contained "Let the broken hearts stand as the price you gotta pay".

6. Massive lyrical overlap between River outtakes "Mary-Lou" and "Be True", in general.

7. Same goes for River outtakes "Little White Lies" and "Loose Ends", in general.

8. Very obscure Darkness outtake "City of Night" has "Some people wanna die young and gloriously / But Taxi Cab driver, well that ain't me / I got a cute little baby down at 12th and Vine"; these lyrics would find a home MUCH later on, of all places, Tunnel of Love track "All That Heaven Will Allow" ("Now some may wanna die young, man / Young and gloriously / Well, get it straight, now, mister / Hey, buddy, that ain't me / 'Cause I got something on my mind[...]").

9. Darkness outtake "Candy's Boy" and eventual Darkness track "Candy's Room" in general, obviously.

10. Darkness outtake "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)" and eventual Darkness track "Factory", obviously.

11. Meanwhile, "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)" also overlaps lyrically with Born in the USA outtake "Johnny Bye-Bye" ("There's a party down in [Factory town]/[Memphis town] [...] The man on the radio says Elvis Presley's died.")

12. Aspects of River outtake "Party Lights" ultimately got re-worked into River track "Point Blank" ("He was gonna be your Romeo, you were gonna be his Juliet / These days, you don't wait on Romeos, you just wait on that welfare check")...

13. ...as well as Tunnel of Love track "Spare Parts("Do you miss the party lights?" -> "She was a young girl, and she missed the party lights.")

14. Maybe this one's a stretch, but with outtakes, I'm more lenient here: "I hear the guitars ringin' out / Ringin' out down Union Street" from River outtake "Where The Bands Are" is reminiscent of "Tonight, down on Union Street" from Born in the USA outtake "None But the Brave".

15. Nebraska track "My Father's House" has some lyrical overlap with Born in the USA outtake "Wages of Sin": it's "I was trying to make it home through the forest before the darkness falls [...] I ran with my heart pounding down that broken path, with the devil snapping at my heels" in the former, and "Trying to make it home through the forest before the darkness falls [...] I was running down that broken path with the devil snapping at my heels" in the latter.

16. One of the most iconic Springsteen songs, Born in the USA single "I'm on Fire", evidently got its start earlier in, of all places, Darkness outtake "Spanish Eyes": "Hey there, little girl, is your daddy home? Did he go and leave you on your own? Tell me, now, baby, is he good to you? Does he do to you the things that I do?" in the former; "Hey little girl, is your daddy home / Did he go away and leave you all alone? [...] Does he have money, honey, like I do? Can he do the things that I'll do for you?"

17. Overlapping lyrics between Born in the USA outtakes "My Love Will Not Let You Down" and "Bring on the Night": The former's got "At night, I walk the streets looking for romance / But I always end up stumbling in a half-trance / I search for connection in some new eyes / But they're hard for protection from too many dreams passed by"; the latter from around the same time has "I walk the street, I'm lookin' for romance / I end up stumblin' in some stupid half-trance [...] I look for connection in some new eyes / But for protection, they're tranquilized." Both songs also have imagery of being unable to sleep at night thinking about someone he wants to be with -- the type of similarity I wouldn't bother noting usually, but considering they share other lyrics, it further shows they were different versions of the same thing.

18. Back-to-back River outtakes "Night Fire" and "Whitetown" both focus on "The sound of breaking glass and running feet."


So, what else is there? :) I'm sure I'm missing some. I'm pretty sure one of those random HT-era bass songs off the end of Tracks is basically musically identical to "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)", but a brief pass through them doesn't remind me which one and I don't wanna sit through all of them right now.


Also, if people have more insight on the development of any of these songs, by all means feel free to contribute it -- like at a glance I see there's a Lost Masters version of "Spanish Eyes" on YouTube. I've listened to that rarely if ever, so I don't know whether it contains the same "I'm on Fire"-esque lyrics; many of the TTTB and Promise tracks were obviously re-touched, and Springsteen claims that, where they were touched up, he didn't do anything he wouldn't have at the time... but 30 years later, that's hard to say with confidence, so maybe there are earlier versions of, say, "Spanish Eyes" or "Breakaway" in circulation that don't have these similarities.


I'm mostly looking for shared things between officially released songs here; obviously, if we look for any pre-existing draft that's clearly an unfinished version of a finished song, the possibilities would be endless. I only included "Candy's Boy" and "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)" because they have official releases; stuff like "The Fast Song" clearly being an early version of "Candy's Room", or "Angelyne" developing into "The River" -- while interesting! -- would maybe be a different thread, or at least a different list.


Although, one thing I can kind of think of here is that the rough draft, Lost Masters recordings "Down in Whitetown" share lyrics with both "Whitetown" and "Jackson Cage" -- something I found very validating, as I'd suspected upon hearing "Whitetown" that it either was, or grew out of, an earlier version of "Jackson Cage". If there's any other instances like that, where a Lost Masters thing shares details with multiple songs that were eventually released, showing they came from a different place, I suppose that could fit the scope of the thread.

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The "little white lies" line in "Point Blank"?

Honestly, this is exactly the sort of thing I'd have loved getting stuck into two or three years back. Hell, maybe even a year ago. I think I've lost my enthusiasm and too much of my Springsteen knowledge to offer as much as I'd like to in a topic like this one.

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Just now, Paolo's Circus Story said:

The "little white lies" line in "Point Blank"?

Honestly, this is exactly the sort of thing I'd have loved getting stuck into two or three years back. Hell, maybe even a year ago. I think I've lost my enthusiasm and too much of my Springsteen knowledge to offer as much as I'd like to in a topic like this one.

That's where I was at for the last two years or so. After seeing him on Broadway in 2017, which followed two straight years of obsessive Bruuuuuce-ing on and off this forum, following the tour and listening to podcasts and getting to know all the new albums I'd never heard before (I've been a huge fan since 2010-2011, but I just stuck with certain albums and heard a bunch of the best ones for the first time in late 2015), I was burnt out and honestly haven't listened to him much in the last two years. I was Bruuuuced out with Broadway as the big finale to two straight years of basically non-stop binging one musician's work.


But... it's coming back.


I'm glad that you're still at least on the forum. And the enthusiasm may come back again. It did for me.

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1 hour ago, Jerseyfornia said:

Maria's Bed borrows some lyrics from Further On (Up The Road).

Missing and You're Missing may as well be the same song with all the shared imagery.

But Missing is one of the most underrated songs while You're Missing is just.....ok.

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5 hours ago, Mumford said:

I suppose the Born in the U.S.A. outtake Rockaway the days features some likeness with The River. The way the main character falls in love with a girl named Mary and they get married in the valley where the river flows. 

And the Rockaway hook turned up in the Bridge Benefit '86 version of Seeds.

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To me, Down In The Hole has a large slice of I'm On Fire musically. I wondered if this was deliberate (the sexually frustrated narrator of I'm On Fire did win the heart of the girl he was lusting for to lose her to tragedy later). Then again, maybe it wasn't... in fact, perhaps Down In The Hole missed release on The Rising after someone pointed out to Bruce the musical similarity to the earlier song

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Great thread.

Seaside bar song and The Ghost of Tom Joad share “the highway is alive tonight”.

Linda let me be the one shares a line with Spare Parts (actually, the spare parts, broken hearts stuff).

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