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The Promise - Band performance or Solo Bruce?


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The Promise is one of three Bruce songs that wrecked me when I first heard and got the meaning, for me the definitive performance of the The Promise is the one from Palace Theatre 1977. 

It's haunting, Bruce's vocals almost echo as he performs and just him on the piano (with some glock) really sells the depressing nature of the song. 

The Tracks versions is good, solo piano again, but I prefer the earlier performances as they were done when Bruce could've became that character due to the issues in the late 70s. 

The band versions is good, but IMO the song solo is far better

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It’s not a song that does much for me. Not sure why. I think I had heard so much hype about it before I ever heard that it just fell flat for me. I do wonder how I would feel about it if I just stumbled upon it one day without having heard anything else about it.

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Best studio version of The Promise is the as-yet-still-unreleased original solo version, known to fans 'thanks to the magic of bootlegging', which made the song famous [before Tracks] as Bruce Springsteen's greatest unreleased song; together with the very great live versions from 1976, 1977 and 1978.

The 18 Tracks version is big 'f.ck you!' to the fans who complained the original version was not on Tracks.

I am not a very big fan of the band version on The Promise, but don't dislike it.

When not an outtake but on Darkness album, the song would maybe never have achieved the mythical status it had (and still has) as one of Bruce Springsteen's greatest songs (which it is, at least in the orginal version).

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23 minutes ago, Gretsch Country Gentleman said:

I'm probably in the minority but my favourite version is LINYC.  Sometimes it's just the one you hear first that you get attached to.

Love that version as well.

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I had the good fortune to be there that night in DC (below) when he played one of only three live full band performances of this great song.  It remains my singular favorite Bruce concert moment in 40+ years of seeing him live, as it was one of my must-see bucket list items and left me stunned that he had actually played it with the band.

That being said, I still prefer it solo, particularly the version posted above by the imposter with the verse beginning "my daddy talked me how to walk quiet, and how to make my peace with the past....".  I had found a bootleg back in the early-mid eighties that had a compilation of songs with a version with that verse (not sure from what show but not the Seattle one above), and that was my first hearing of The Promise and it just floored me and remains my favorite.

full band The Promise

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3 hours ago, the imposter said:

This is the one: 

 

Best version ever ever ever :)

....so much for it being on the next album :(

The promise is integral to my ride on this train and as a  major turning point of my fandom going from casually curouse to obsessive :D

I first heard in on LINYC sandwiched beteeen light of day and thunder roadand it was long before i knew of any record contract or court case

The first time i really heard it was the first time in my life i ever felt empathy not just from a song but from anyone 

Someone had lived that feeling of hopeless before me

In the course of my life i hasn't quite been sleeping in the back street of a borrowed car but my move to the big smog had been a lot less fruitful than i had hoped and at one stage i was living at my ex boyfriend's  mother's house for lack of any alternitive 

The fact that so many people resonate so deeply with this song means we are not really alone at all

Of course now we know of Bruce's personal black dog its a bit more heart breaking listening to him sing it:(

Its my 3rd fav song after BTR and 78 Prove it

I had trouble tracking down LINYC on cd becsuse NZ  had well and trully fallen off the JLM world map :angry:but i found a 2nd hand copy at slowboat records in Cuba st Wellington and at this early stage of my fandom i had no idea of this great song's rariety

Anyway raced home ...

No promise ??:(

And BTR was on there but not on the track list ?:o

Any way absolutly desperate to track this masterpiece down so i ordered 18 tracks from Backstreets ....

And waited and waited for it to arrive 

Hmmmmm :unsure:

Luckily inbetween Gary had downloaded me winterland c/o Mr Crystal cat and i found true greatness on the bonus disk:wub: (see the impostor's favourite version above)

I enjoy the story of the promise from the great darkness box set and in hindsite im with '78 Bruce and don't see it making DOTEOT due to it being devoid of hope

I like the full band version but if i had a choice its solo piano for me every time 

 

But please im a fan of all the words !

 

My favourite line is  Thunder road for the tires rushing by in the rain because that completly encapsulates the feeling of hopelessness and the world rushing by leaving you behind 

I have found over the years - like with  my beloved Joad album and now western stars- i have to purposely make a point of not listeming to it too much because usually Bruce is such a great source of hope but well on this case ...

...misery likes company and that's not good for anyone 

 

Saddly the line i build that challenger my myself but i needed money so i sold it applies to the Jeep but that's another story for another song

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Despite being re-recorded in order to spare the full band version for a later release, the 18 Tracks version is the definitive take of The Promise for me. The solo piano arrangement and the mature voice make the lyrics (about the feelings of a man remembering his past with detachment) more fitting. 
The 2010 released full band version is pretty good (I like the vocals) although I could have gladly done without the strings over the classic E Street sound.

That being said, in an alternative universe (where neither version had been released before) The Promise would have made a perfect song for Western Stars.

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Debuted in August 1976 in Red Bank as The Loser, the definitive live version is the one @the imposter refers to ^ from Seattle. Stunning.

That said the overall greatest version, for me, is the version from The Promise boot on the Scorpio label (later to be found upgraded on Lost Masters 2). I consider it to be the greatest thing he's ever done, hence my user name. Running it a close second is the live-in-studio version on the The Promise DVD, which includes the rare "my daddy taught me how to walk quiet, and how to make my peace with the past" line.

Not a major fan of the other solo versions, really. And as I've said many times before, the 18 Tracks version is an abomination.

.:)

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Just now, Daisey Jeep said:

How could it sit there without an offical release for sooooooo long ?

'cause Bruce took his ideas on what was great "art" from JON LANDAU.

The man who fucking didn't say "you gotta release this NOW!" about Roulette on the River!

His HEAD is up his fucking ASS!!!!!

And Bruce just takes his word for it, from his buddy!

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6 minutes ago, soulcrusader78 said:

'cause Bruce took his ideas on what was great "art" from JON LANDAU.

The man who fucking didn't say "you gotta release this NOW!" about Roulette on the River!

His HEAD is up his fucking ASS!!!!!

And Bruce just takes his word for it, from his buddy!

Well i do agree with you

but id still rather we had a Jon Landau than a Col. Tom Parker or the countless  managers of stars of the music industry who were lost too young 

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I've never been big on the Sleeping in the backseat of a borrowed car part. It's not that I dislike those lyrics but to me the flow of the song gets interrupted when those lines come in. It feels like he stuffs too many words in compared to the same section with different lyrics earlier in the song.

What I love the most about the live in studio band version is the THROW IT ALL AWAY-A-AY's at the end of it.

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@stillilllife I’ve been homeless before so I very much feel that line (even though I’ve never slept in the backseat of borrowed car). It’s a phenomenal line so it was worth bending it a little to fit in the flow of the song. In fact, the line interrupting the flow makes the power of that line hit home a little more for the listener. That’s what a great songwriter does.

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