Cover by Cover takes you on a journey through the cover progression of a classic song.
It’s hard to precisely trace the genesis of “Because the Night,” a song made famous by punk rock progenitor Patti Smith but written, at least in part, by the inimitable Bruce Springsteen. Here’s what’s known for sure: Springsteen concocted some rendition of Because the Night for inclusion on his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town. However, he decided to keep the song off the record; he wasn’t comfortable with including a love ballad amongst its darker pieces. Not wanting the tune to go to waste, producer Jimmy Iovine took it to another one of his clients, Patti Smith, and suggested she put it on her forthcoming Easter record. He insisted it’d give her a hit. Smith resisted at first but eventually gave in, and indeed “Because the Night” became the most commercially successful song of her career. It sounded like this:
Although he gave the song up on record, Springsteen often performed the tune himself in concert with altered lyrics. This started as early as the Darkness tour in 1978. The Boss officially released a version of the song on his Live/1975-85 box set which many probably thought was a cover. In reality, it’s tough to call either Patti or Bruce’s version the cover; both artists can make claim to originating aspects of the song. What is clear, though: lots and lots of other artists have taken a crack at “Because the Night” over the past 30 years. Let’s take a look at the song’s development through its most noted and interesting versions.