Jun 032011
July 31, 2007: The first home-recorded cover of “Because the Night” gets uploaded to YouTube by user vitsuneto. In this day and age, that seems like a milestone worth recognizing.

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April 10, 2008: Swiss singer Pearl delivers Smith by way of Evanescence in her heavy cover. Full audio’s not available, but you can hear a sample on her MySpace page.
July 18, 2008: Another German performer, another club number. No doubt influenced by Jan Wayne, hot dance act Cascada gives her own version of “Because the Night” to the world. This one had a fair amount of chart success in Europe, though it performed best in Latvia, almost cracking the Top 10 (true story)!

September 19, 2008: German metal band Das Scheit takes a bit of a kitchen sink approach to Smith’s song, combining grand strings, pervasive synths, heavy guitars and intensely whispered vocals. Is it metal or is it dance? European audiences seem to love both.

October 22, 2008: Speaking of metal and dance, Italian gothic band Domina Noctis focuses on combining Cascada with Keel’s sensibilities.

November 1, 2008: But the French electro band A7IE outcreeps their European comrades with a version that somehow embellishes both the club and metal elements of previous readings. The vocal delivery here is straight-up bizarre.

May 15, 2009: New Jersey singer Leah Kamiya brings an R&B flair to Smith’s track. It’s weird no one thought of this before.

June 2, 2009: Club versions of “Because the Night” will never die, but on Israeli compilation Rock 2 Dance Discovery attempts to return the song to its guitar-driven roots.

July 31, 2009: KT Tunstall and the Buena Vista Social Club release a super-cool samba version for the charity record Rhythms del Mundo Classics. Tunstall’s one of the only artists to keep Smith’s outro vocals intact.

August 10, 2009: English indie-pop band Brontosaurus Chorus release a string-heavy version for the Springsteen tribute Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool. Their extended string-quartet intro comes the closest to recalling Springsteen’s vamping at his ’70s shows.

April 1, 2010: Italian duo Attack and Party release an interesting version of the song powered by twin acoustic guitars with just a hint of synthesizer. Full audio’s unavailable, but check out this sample on Amazon.

July 18, 2010: German metal band Black Rose does something no other group approaches with “Because the Night”: they pay tribute to Keel! It’s a little softer than Keel’s version, but all the trappings are in place, from the weird solo to the few chords Keel got wrong in their recording.

November 16, 2010: Bringing it back to the beginning, Springsteen releases The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story box set, which allows fans to hear for the first time his original recording of “Because the Night.”

March 21, 2011: But wait, the story continues! Back over in Europe, singer Clara Moroni releases a hard-rocking version of “Because the Night” on her latest album, Bambina Brava. Here we have, perhaps, a more solid attempt at combining the sensibilities of Keel and Cascada, with more of the original Smith flavor thrown in.

Favorite cover? Least favorite? Any we missed? Chime in in the comments below!

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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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