This song was written by Tim Scott McConnell in 1987 and originally appeared three years later on the debut album by his band, The Havalinas. The track was incorporated into the 1996 documentary film Blood Brothers, which chronicles Springsteen's reunion with the E Street Band and its hard-to-find accompanying EP.
This new version was performed by the The E Street Band with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello during a tour of Australia in March 2013 and recorded during The Boss' dates Down Under. Springsteen told Rolling Stone that he broke the habit of a lifetime when laying the song down. "We've never had a recording session during a tour in our lives," he said. "We did a couple of things that I wanted to put down. So that was very exciting. And being with Tommy was exciting. The band - Steven, Nils, all those guys - continues to be a source of inspiration for me."
Springsteen said regarding the cutting of the song: "I was working on a record of some of our best unreleased material from the past decade when Tom Morello (sitting in for Steve Van Zandt during the Australian leg of our tour) suggested we ought to add 'High Hopes' to our live set. I had cut 'High Hopes," a song by Tim Scott McConnell of the LA based Havalinas, in the '90s. We worked it up in our Aussie rehearsals and Tom then proceeded to burn the house down with it. We re-cut it mid tour at Studios 301 in Sydney along with 'Just Like Fire Would.'"
Tom Morello was driving around Los Angeles in late 2012 when Springsteen's 1996 song came on E Street Radio, the SiriusXM channel devoted to The Boss. "I was reminded what a jam it was," he recalled to Rolling Stone. "In the middle of the night, I texted Bruce and said, 'What do you think about 'High Hopes' for the tour?' He agreed we should put it in the set." Little did Morello realize that a new version of of the song would become the title track and lead single of Springsteen's eighteenth studio album.