Because The Night

Album: Live 1975-1985 (1986)
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  • Springsteen gave this song to Patti Smith in 1976 because he thought it would suit her voice. He was also in a legal battle with his manager, Mike Appel, that kept Bruce from recording for about a year. It became the only hit for Patti Smith, whose Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career is based on influential songs that are more challenging for the listener. "Because The Night" made her one of the more unusual one-hit wonders.
  • When Springsteen gave this to Patti Smith, He had the music and the chorus written, but not the verses. She wrote the words in one night.

    Smith's version made the song more of a passionate lust story, with the pre-chorus of "touch me now" at the end of the song. When Springsteen performed the song, his lyrics were more comforting to the girl, as he took the persona of a working man ("I work all day out in the hot sun") tempering her fears with his love, telling her, "They can't hurt you now." The different versions provide an interesting contrast, as they show the perspectives of each side of the couple depicted in the song.
  • This was written in 1976, but Springsteen didn't start performing it until the very end of 1977, and didn't issue a live version until his boxed set Live 1975-1985 in 1986. A studio version didn't appear until 2010 on his album The Promise. This version used Smith's lyrics; his live renditions used different lines, for instance:

    Come on now try and understand
    I work all day pushing for the man
  • This continued a tradition of Springsteen writing hit songs that were popularized by other artists. Blinded By The Light" was a hit for Manfred Mann and "Fire" scored for The Pointer Sisters.
  • Springsteen had one of his recording engineers, Jimmy Iovine, give the song to Patti Smith - Iovine was producing her album Easter at the time. Iovine, who later worked with John Lennon, Tom Petty, and Dr. Dre, credits the song with launching his career.
  • Springsteen joined Patti Smith on stage a number of times in the '70s when legal battles kept him from recording. Bruce played it at most of his concerts up to the mid '80s.
  • Springsteen cut versions of this song for his albums Darkness On The Edge Of Town and The River, but left it off both times.
  • This song was revived in 1993 when 10,000 Maniacs performed it on their MTV Unplugged special, which aired June 1, 1993. It was one of the last appearances lead singer Natalie Merchant made with the band; she told them she was leaving a year earlier, but this was not known to the public. (10,000 Maniacs did an Unplugged in 1990, and became the first band to return to the show. MTV let them do it again because their manager let them in on the secret.)

    Merchant wanted something special for the performance, so she had the band do "Because The Night," which was augmented by a string section for the show. She delivered a stirring vocal and the acoustic arrangement gave the song a fresh new sound. It proved one of the most memorable moments in the history of the series, and MTV put the clip in rotation. This version was released as a single and made a steady climb up the charts, reaching #11 US in February 1994. It was by far their biggest hit, and the album, 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged, became their best seller. Merchant was long gone by this time, having performed her last show with the group in July 1993. After taking some time off, she issued her first solo album, Tigerlily, in 1995. MTV was happy to put the videos for "Carnival" and "Wonder" into rotation, and the album became a huge hit. 10,000 Maniacs soldiered on with new lead singer Mary Ramsey. Both band and Merchant made it clear that they wished each other well.
  • Guitarist Nils Lofgren, who joined the E Street Band in 1984, put his own spin on this song when he came into the fold. In his Songfacts interview, he said, "Youngstown" and "Because the Night" have turned into very extended solos that I put some time into crafting themes that I can move through and improv around, but would always build. There was always time and love and work put into those solos."

    On some shows, Springsteen would turn the microphone over to Lofgren, who would sing lead on this track.

Comments: 18

  • Bh from MtPatti Smith a "one hit wonder"???
  • Spencer from Dallas, TxObviously the people who think Patti's or Natalie's (10,000 Maniacs) versions are better never heard the true Bruce version. Back in '78, they played it live. It's clear Patti took a song about desperation for humanity and turned it into puppy love. The true original is so fierce and nasty. Upon hearing it, you'll think it's as Bruce as any song. In addition to lyrics that aren't so trite like the more popular versions, the musicianship is off the charts (Bruce with a searing 2 minute guitar solo, the Professor on the piano, Phantom Dan Federici with a thundering organ and of course Clarence layering in a thick soothing sax amidst all the chaos. I have no idea why Bruce migrated his song toward Patti's version...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 31st 1977, the Patti Smith Group began a nine night engagement at the 'CBGB' club in New York City...
    Exactly one year later on May 31st, 1978 the group's "Because the Night" was at #25 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eighteen days later on June 18th, 1978 it would peak at #13 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 18 weeks...
    It reached #5 {for 1 week} on May 21st, 1978 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    Was track three of side one on the group's 'Easter' album; the album peak at #20 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart...
    Patricia Lee Smith will celebrate her 69th birthday this coming December 30th {2015}.
  • Roxanne from Santa Barbara, CaDon't forget the great Robin William's version of "Fih-wuh" featuring Elmer Fudd. A true classic.
  • Bob from Southfield, MiIn the recent HBO documentary on the recording of "Darkness on the Edge of Town", Patty Smith said that she was inspired by Fred (Sonic) Smith of the MC5 (who she would eventually marry) when she wrote the lyrics to BTN.
  • Yvonne from Milwaukee, WiSpringsteen was on Jimmy Kimmel on 11/16/10 and said this song was written for Elvis, but he gave it to Patti Smith unfinished. He credited her with making it the song it became.
  • John from Harrisburg, PaManfreds version kicked ass bar nunn bruce's version was too slow,manfred put rock into it..and who gives a damn if Thompson gets pissed if you sing wrapped up like a douche...f--k him if he cant take a joke...i'd sing it to him repeatedly if i had chance
  • Alma from Laredo, TxBruce Springsteen is one of the greatest songwriters of our time. I truly love his music, but when Patti Smith and Natalie Merchant sing this song it's as if they were the one meant to sing it. He is always able to pen down feelings everyone can relate to.
  • Ian from Como, AustraliaI don't think Bruce "gave" the songs 'Blinded by the Light' and 'Fire' to Manfred Mann and the Pointer Sisters, as he recorded them both first himself.
    He actually gave 'Fire' to Robert Gordon, who recorded it first, with Link Wray on guitar and this is still probably the best version.
    And don't forget 'The Fever' that he wrote for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, another great song.
  • Matthew from Milford, MaI know the 10,000 Maniacs! They sing "Gun Shy" and "My Sister Rose"! Are those songs on here?
  • Tim from Groningen, NetherlandsThis song is as well covered by the Italian producers Maurizio Rossi and Emanuele Cozi and by the German producer Jan Wayne in 2002. Both of them made dance versions of 'Because The Night'.
  • Tim from Groningen, NetherlandsI never knew that Springsteen wrote this song until now. And who the hell are the 10,000 Maniacs?!
  • Roel from Cleveland, OhThe studio version is floating around on Limewire.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI've heard Patty smith's version, and I think I've heard 10,000 Maniacs' version, but I haven't heard Bruce's version.
  • Ryan from Manchester, NhSpringsteen also gave away his song "The Fever" to his longtime friend Southside Johnny
  • Dirk from Southwest Of Freehold, NjThere was a studio version by Springsteen that found its way into airplay at WMMR in Philadelphia around 1977. People went nuts for it. It was better than any other version ever played. Somebody ripped off the tape from the radio station, and it was never heard again.
  • Emilio from Sydney.bruce dose a hell of a fine job in live 75/85 because the night.
  • Katt from Evansville, InThis song was also recorded by rock artist Ron Keel in the late 80's or early 90s.
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