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Talk to me about "THE PROMISE", it history, and live or other versions I should be familiar with.


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So, here's my knowledge of "The Promise":

 

- It had some really dope live performances in the 70s that people love a lot?, but I don't know much about this, and studio bootlegs circulated at some point.

 

- Cut from Darkness for being too personal, etc., and then wasn't touched for 20 years.

 

- Excluded from Tracks, then appeared on 18 Tracks in a solo piano version that I personally was fine with as a new fan but that my understanding is disappointed, to say the least, a ton of longtime fans as it lacked the power of the original.

 

- Eventually appeared in a band arrangement on The Promise.

 

However, I think I've heard - and please, correct me if I'm wrong or elaborate if I'm not! - that even the studio version from The Promise disappointed some longtime fans and is considered less powerful than either some of the studio bootlegs and/or some of the live versions from '76-'78? If this is true, what are the definitive versions of "The Promise" I should be checking out that diehard fans would have considered the "real" versions throughout the 70s-90s?

 

I know there's a lot of history to this song but a lot of it is kind of opaque and behind-the-scenes, so I'd really be interested in anyone's insight on how this song was received, which versions get the most love, and how people feel about the version from The Promise; I know the 18 Tracks version isn't exactly beloved, but what about that 2010 release?

 

Thank you!

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I feel in love with the promise from LINYC but OMG ! The one on the bonus disk  crystal cat boot of winterland is to die for 

The more modern versions suffer from missing important lines 

Its my 3rd favourite song of all time 

It made me a fan of Bruce Springsteen before prove it or kitty, before BTR, before TR 

I like the feel of the vintage band versions from the promise doco and its integral to the darkness era and the album it got left off  but i much prefer it solo acoustic 

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I was overjoyed the promise finally got a deserved release with rightfully its own album in 2010

But i hardly ever listen to the modern band version 

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54 minutes ago, Promise61 said:

 

That solo version from Seattle in June '76 (?) is stunning.

 

Originally titled and performed as The Loser.

Im.so glad he changed the name

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4 hours ago, Promise61 said:

 

That solo version from Seattle in June '76 (?) is stunning.

 

Originally titled and performed as The Loser.

25/06/1978 - the same one which @Daisey Jeepmentioned as being a bonus track on the CC release of Winterland -spell-binding :)

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The take on Deep Down in the Vaults is definitive for me, studio-wise.

While lacking the devastatingly powerful intimacy of the solo piano performances from 76-78, this version of “The Promise” is nonetheless stunning and, unlike the take included in the box set, has no superfluous strings and retains a key lyric in the final verse. 

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6 hours ago, mickb said:

25/06/1978 - the same one which @Daisey Jeepmentioned as being a bonus track on the CC release of Winterland -spell-binding :)

Thank you

I never remember which one 'my one' actually is 

What about when he says something like  this got left of the last record but ill be on the next one ......

That's why i was so pleased it got its own record, just like it was going to back in the day 

Although i do think darkness is perfect how it is and as the promise didn't have the glimmer of hope prerequisite needed to make the cut 

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I really only know the released version from the box set. I don’t really think much of it. Kind of boring in the way it’s sung. Not bad lyrically, just kind of a sleepy, passionless song. Is there a better, more lively version to be heard?

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10 hours ago, Jertucky said:

I really only know the released version from the box set. I don’t really think much of it. Kind of boring in the way it’s sung. Not bad lyrically, just kind of a sleepy, passionless song. Is there a better, more lively version to be heard?

 

This is the 1978 live version @Daisey Jeep is talking about. It came to the attention first time in 1998 on the Crystal Cat Winterland Night bootleg as a bonus track

 

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Bruce has said that he intended The Promise as a reflection on the Mike Appel lawsuit he fought between BTR and Darkness....He also said that a good song should have different meanings to different people and that The Promise was one of those songs....Supposedly the first song he wrote after BTR during that time when he couldn’t record...Some of the most piercing lyrics you’ll ever hear.

“The promise is broken, you go on living
It steals something from down in your soul
When the truth is spoken, it don't make no difference
Something in your heart goes cold”

My favorite version is from L.A. 10/23/99....The first time since 1978 he had played it solo on the piano.

Although still a rarity, I’ve been fortunate to have heard The Promise more than once through the years.

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It is a song that divides fans, "plodding dirge" to some, the holy grail to others.  For me the slow version from 1978 with the "Daddy taught me how to walk quiet" final verse (video above) is the best thing he has ever done.  It is a slow brooding song but he sings these with a passion that shows he is hurting and feeling betrayed. And I do like the slow burn songs - Price You Pay over Hungry Heart, and Downbound Train over Darlington County for me every time.

I first found The Promise on a cassette boot in London's Camden Market which also had Roulette and the slow Thunder Road.  Sound quality was terrible but the strength of those songs still came through.   And I finally 

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got to see it on show 25.  Made my trip stateside worth it on its own.  (Excuse the two-for, naughty finger.)  Now seen three times and each time it is the absolute highlight of the show.

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14 minutes ago, muscum said:

It is a song that divides fans, "plodding dirge" to some, the holy grail to others.  For me the slow version from 1978 with the "Daddy taught me how to walk quiet" final verse (video above) is the best thing he has ever done.  It is a slow brooding song but he sings these with a passion that shows he is hurting and feeling betrayed. And I do like the slow burn songs - Price You Pay over Hungry Heart, and Downbound Train over Darlington County for me every time.

I first found The Promise on a cassette boot in London's Camden Market which also had Roulette and the slow Thunder Road.  Sound quality was terrible but the strength of those songs still came through.   And I finally 

Its the holy grail to me

Trouble  being  when i first saw it from LINYC i had no idea it was the actual holy  grail and i couldn't  understand  why it wasn't  on the cd when i finally  tracked  a copy down,  when BTR was on it  when it wasn't  even listed  on the track list 

(I had soooooo much to learn)

The promise  was the first song i ever  heard that  really really deeply  related  to me 

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1 hour ago, el sergio said:

 

This is the 1978 live version @Daisey Jeep is talking about. It came to the attention first time in 1998 on the Crystal Cat Winterland Night bootleg as a bonus track

 

Thanks  for posting el sergio

And thank  you Mr Crystal cat 

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The '76-77 performances are some of my favorite in his entire career. Was super happy when those two '77 got released on Nugs, and the Albany performance from 2/7/77 is on all streaming services now as part of the "Live Series Songs Of Hope" compilation.

As for post-Reunion performances, I'm not too keen on the full band versions (though I adore the Promise album). Something about the 4/22/14 Pittsburgh performance though resonates with me, I don't know why. I wasn't even at the show, but hearing it on the Nugs release really struck a chord with me for some reason. What I do know though is that it being sandwiched between LOHAD and The Wall makes it even more heartbreaking.

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5 hours ago, el sergio said:

 

This is the 1978 live version @Daisey Jeep is talking about. It came to the attention first time in 1998 on the Crystal Cat Winterland Night bootleg as a bonus track

 

Thanks for posting that. 
I don’t know, it just doesn’t do anything for me. Again, lyrics are not the issue. Just kind of slow and plodding for me.

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I was there for this one. 

but really I could have thought of about 100 different songs to be played then in lieu of this. 

Unlike all around me people were losing their minds. Me: just OK, gave me a chance to sit down! Take a look at that Pittsburgh show, believe me we all needed to sit of a few minutes. 

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5 minutes ago, Jimmy James said:

I was there for this one. 

but really I could have thought of about 100 different songs to be played then in lieu of this. 

Unlike all around me people were losing their minds. Me: just OK, gave me a chance to sit down! Take a look at that Pittsburgh show, believe me we all needed to sit of a few minutes. 

Yep I was at this show as well.... I also heard a full band version in DC in a tour somewhere along the way.

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4 hours ago, Daisey Jeep said:

Its the holy grail to me

Trouble  being  when i first saw it from LINYC i had no idea it was the actual holy  grail and i couldn't  understand  why it wasn't  on the cd when i finally  tracked  a copy down,  when BTR was on it  when it wasn't  even listed  on the track list 

(I had soooooo much to learn)

The promise  was the first song i ever  heard that  really really deeply  related  to me 

Daisy, you and me have the same grail quest.

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