Jun 032011
October 26, 1993: Another band scores big with the tune Stateside as 10,000 Maniacs perform a version on MTV Unplugged and get a hit out of it. Their arrangement mostly takes its cues from Smith, but with a few Springsteen-isms thrown in.

[youtube H14R4ZsMM0E]

January 6, 1996: On their Blood Music EP, English trip-hop band Earthling lend “Because the Night” a vibe it hadn’t had before and hasn’t attained since.

November 21, 1996: Speaking of vibes, Japanese singer-songwriter Ua releases “Because the Night” on her single “Kumo ga Chigireru Toki,” giving the world the most chill version of the song yet.

September 11, 1998: In a bit of a departure from “Kids in America,” Kim Wilde performs “Because the Night” with Germany’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the album Philharmania, which added orchestral backing to rock and roll classics. Kim stays pretty close to the Smith version here, but you can’t mistake her voice.

September 25, 2000: Another strange entry from Japan, singer and actress Jun Togawa releases a noisy take on the track on her album 20th.

May 13, 2002: German DJ Jan Wayne shares her own club rendition of “Because the Night” with European audiences, complete with mega-sexy video. Worldwide, this is one of the most popular takes on the song, but it’s certainly not the last dance version to make a big impact.

September 9, 2005: Irish singer Hazel Kaneswaran’s poppy cover of “Because the Night” isn’t too noteworthy, except that she seems to be the only artist to use Springsteen’s altered Live/1975-85 lyrics in her version. “I work all day out in the hot sun / stay with me until the morning comes.” Full audio’s unavailable, but check the sample here.

September 20, 2005: Electronic group Alphabet Girls manages to create a synthy “Because the Night” that won’t drive you mad with techno beats. Cool!

July 25, 2006: A few college a cappella groups have taken a crack at “Because the Night.” Generally they seem to being paying tribute to the 10,000 Maniacs version, which makes sense given that most contemporary college students would’ve been inundated with that song in the ’90s. Here’s the first vocal recording of the tune, courtesy of James Madison University’s Note-oriety.

October 30, 2006: This is totally badass. Electric violinist Ed Alleyne-Johnson records an instrumental version of “Because the Night” and mashes it up with Derek and the Dominoes’ “Layla.” You’ve gotta hear this.

For more, including the first cover ever posted to YouTube, continue to Page 4.

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  10 Responses to “Cover by Cover: Because the Night”

Comments (10)
  1. Wow. I started reading this post 2.5 hours ago. Thank the lord for the &YouTube player’s “+” button. Would have been even longer without it. I kept getting sidetracked by related tracks in YouTube.
    Hmmm. That playlist has finished. Time to browse back through “Rhythms del Mundo”. I had forgotten about those albums.

  2. “… written, at least in part, by the inimitable Bruce Springsteen,” is a bit of an understatemnent.

    Bruce wrote the song, music and lyrics. Patti was recording in the same studio in NY City. She heard it and commented how much she like it. Bruce was, and is, a great admirer of Smith. When the song didn’t make the cut for, Darkness on the Edge of Town,” he offered it to her. She asked it she could change two lines. Not only did he agree, he very magnimously gave her co-authorship, one of the few times in his career he has done this – Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith.

    The first time I heard the song was in the Spring of 78 when Patti opened for the Rolling Stones at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. I thought, “Wow, what a great rocker.”

    The next time I saw it performed was also at the Fox, on September 30, 1978, the first time I saw Bruce. He played three hours of the greatest rock that had ever been or ever would be.

    When he came back to the mic after the long guitar solo to sing the chorus for the final time, it was one of the most exciting moments I’ve experienced in the roughly 100 big time rock shows I’ve attended. It looked a lots like this version, Passaic, NJ, about two weeks before than the Fox show.


    People are free to prefer any version they chose. In my experience it’s pretty tough to top Bruce Springsteen’s presentation of his own songs.

  3. One of the best most rockin’ versions I’ve ever seen Springsteen perform was earlier this year on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon!

    Bruce, Steve Van Zandt, Roy Bittan (both from the E Street Band) plus The Roots! It could very well be the only recorded version of Because The Night featuring a Tuba!


  4. Actually, there’s at least another BTN version with a tuba, and it features a tuba solo!
    Blues Jeans was an Italian acoustic blues trio and this version comes from a tape from the early 90’s and I think it’s one of the best BTN covers ever. Check it out here:

  5. Patti Smith still owns the song, though 10,000 Maniacs did a great version. Of the new ones presented here, I like the KT Tunstall samba. Thanks, fun post!

  6. I think this is a better example of, “Because the Night,” from the 1978 tour. It’s the version from Houston, on December 8, that’s in the boxed set released late last year. The set includes this entire show.


  7. @John: I definitely agree with you; the Bruce/Patti debate was left out of the post to put the focus on the covers. I actually originally had that very performance you linked to in an earlier draft. I love the way Bruce alters the lyrics there – “I spend all day working for the man.” It’s so interesting how he toyed with this song and it became something very different from the original version.

    Thanks everyone for the comments/enjoying the post!

  8. What about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert where it was performed by Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, and U2? It’s on youtube if anyone wants to watch it.

  9. I don’t know how you missed the great version by Michael Stipe and Springsteen where Stipe channels 10000 maniacs style vocals.

  10. Lenny Kaye has a nice live version — lean and muscular, like almost all of his work.

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