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Bruce Springsteen: From The Boss to Singing The King’s Tracks

Elvis Presley’s music career was built on songs written by others. He didn’t write his music, but picked his favorites from a vast pool of hits, even one from Bruce Springsteen. Over time, Presley’s unique way of picking songs became more controversial. He was known for his cover versions, especially adapting songs from Black artists for a white audience. Hits like ‘That’s All Right’ and ‘Hound Dog’, along with his versions of songs by Little Richard and Ray Charles, turned him into a superstar, often overshadowing the original creators.

The ethics of this approach can be questioned. Presley’s dealings with songwriters and musicians added to the controversy, as he often sought credits for songs he covered but didn’t write. Dolly Parton famously denied him the chance to cover ‘I Will Always Love You’ because she wanted to keep her credits. Despite the risk, many artists were eager for “The King” to perform their work, seeing him as a rock and roll icon and a transformative figure in music.

Bruce Springsteen admired Elvis and imagined him covering his songs. Springsteen even attempted to meet Elvis by sneaking into Graceland. Early in his career, Springsteen wrote ‘Fire’ with Elvis in mind, a song with a rockabilly vibe and quintessentially American storytelling, perfect for Elvis’s style.

However, Elvis passed away in August 1977 before he could hear ‘Fire’. Springsteen reflected on how Elvis’s death marked a turning point in music, coinciding with the rise of punk and new wave acts like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Elvis Costello. This shift inspired Springsteen to craft anthems that spoke to the American heartland.

Springsteen felt the impact of Elvis’s legacy during the making of his 1978 album, ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’, with a style reminiscent of Elvis’s early energy and passion for music.

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