Bruce Springsteen wrote the saga about a promiscuous lady in 1972, culling the melody from "Talking About My Baby," a song he'd performed at least once the previous year. The Boss first recorded "Janey" at 914 Sound Studios in January 1973. Springsteen made several other attempts to lay the track down, including a studio version in 1979, without nailing it.
Four decades on, Springsteen came across a recording of the song while assembling a compilation album and felt compelled to give it another go. This attempt, recorded with the E Street Band and producer Ron Aniello for his 2020 Letter to You album, worked. "When he presented 'Janie,' in my head it was 1977 so I played like it was 1977 but better," drummer Max Weinberg, who joined the band in 1974, told Uncut magazine.