This acoustic waltz finds Springsteen singing about a hunter traveling though a wasteland. A song with biblical overtones, it is unclear whether the mysterious figure represents Satan or a Savior. The recording dates from 2004-2008, under the production-ship of Brendan O'Brien, but with an overdub of Tom Morello's guitar. Producer Ron Aniello told Rolling Stone that the editing Springsteen and he did on the song "was very light." He added: "With respect to Brendan, that's his production, and I didn't want to meddle too much. We touch it up and Bruce might have changed a lyric or two. I actually can't remember, but for the most part those were the Brendan O'Brien stuff."
Aniello wasn't surprised that the High Hopes album focuses on older songs. He told Rolling Stone: "For any other artist alive, that's how they make records. It's, 'Oh, I got a song. It's great.' Then it just ends up on the record. With any other artist, this would be completely acceptable. And we're not saying it's unacceptable to some fans. It's just if you read fan sites you see people saying, "Oh, it's older songs."
"But you have to understand it has its own story, in my opinion," Aniello continued. "This is the story of what he's not willing to put on albums because they don't fit. They just didn't fit the particular story he was telling for each album. The first time I heard 'Hunter of Invisible Game' I thought, 'My God, this is one of your greats.' He went, 'Yeah, it just never quite fit.' That's the story of the record. So I'm not sure how fans are going to react, but it's a great Bruce record. It's a great rock & roll record. The fact they're older songs doesn't detract from the brilliance of the record."
This was one of three songs from High Hopes
(along with "The Ghost Of Tom Joad
" and the title track
) that were played in part on the January 12, 2014 episode of the television series, The Good Wife
Bruce Springsteen came up with the song title many years before he recorded it, and the song subsequently evolved. "I don't remember a lot about it except I said, 'That's a nice title,'" he told Rolling Stone. "I wrote it down and it sat there. Then I did more reading of other things. And I started to get into this sort of post-apocalyptic idea. The idea of these travelers in the wasteland, and what's the guy trying to do? He's trying to hold onto their humanness, their humanity in all of this ruin. That was the idea. That's who this guy is, the guy who is hunting out remnants of what makes the spirit."
"It was one of those songs that came together a certain way and I didn't think much about it when I wrote it," Springsteen added." I put it away. Now it's probably one of my favorite things on the record."
Springsteen co-directed a 10-minute film based on the song title with his longtime video collaborator, Thom Zimny.