In December of 2012, Bruce Springsteen called producer Ron Aniello, whom he first worked with on 2012's Wrecking Ball, and told him he had some demos of older songs that he'd had around for a while, which he felt deserved a proper studio recording. "He said, 'I'm on the road right now – just fool around with them and see what you think you can do,'" recalled Aniello to Rolling Stone. "Although they didn't fit the particular story he was telling for each album – you know how crazy he is about having each album tell a linear story. But these were fantastic songs."
Aniello began production on the album while the band toured. The producer recalled: "He was gone most of the time, so we weren't able to sit in a room and sort it out all. It all happened in a very unusual manner. But once we got started on it and he started to uncover what it was exactly it was. . .It just took the most part of a year for him to figure it out."
The end result was High Hopes, a collection of 12 cover songs, out-takes and re-imagined versions of past tracks.
This heartbreaking song about digging for a body of a loved one in the wreckage of a disaster is an outtake from the recording sessions for 2002's The Rising. It opens with Springsteen's second wife Patti Scialfa's distinctive harmonies and features background vocals from the three children they had together, Evan (born July 25, 1990), Jessica (born December 30, 1991) and Sam Springsteen (born January 5, 1994). "Patti sings fabulously on that track, first of all, she just did amazing things with her voice on it," Springsteen told NPR's Ann Powers in a January 2014 interview. "And the kids did some sort of very ghosty part behind her or with her and they were very young and I, at the time, I recorded them on several things, some of which haven't been released but were just, they had a beautiful sound the three of them when they sang together at that time. And occasionally they still do and so I just brought them in and said, 'OK, try this,' and they put the big headsets on and they took a swing at it and they're on the record."
The organ solo was played by the late Danny Federici. Springsteen's longtime organ, glockenspiel, and accordion player passed away on April 17, 2008, having suffered for three years with melanoma.