Official studio version
Some need gold and some need diamond rings
Or a drug to take away the pain that living brings
A promise of a better world to come
When whatever here is done
I don't need that sky of blue babe
All I know's since I found you, I'm
Happy when I'm in your arms
Happy, darling, come the dark
Happy when I taste your kiss
I'm happy in a love like this
There's a house upon a distant hill
Where you can hear the laughter of children ring
Guardian angels, they watch from above
Watching over the love that they bring
But at night I feel the darkness near
And I awake, I find you near, yeah
I'm happy with you in my arms
Happy with you in my heart
Happy when I taste your kiss
I'm happy in a love like this
In a world of doubt and fear
I wake at night and reach to find you near
Lost in a dream, you caught me as I fell, now
I want more than just a dream to tell
Born in this world, darling, with few days
And trouble never far behind
Man, woman circle each other in a cage
A cage that's been handed down the line
Lost and running 'neath a million dead stars
Tonight let's shed our skins and slip these bars
Happy in each other's arms
Happy, baby, come the dark
Happy in each other's kiss
I'm happy in a love like this
HAPPY is a song written by Bruce Springsteen. It was recorded during the Lucky Town sessions and was later released on the Tracks box set in 1998.
The above lyrics are for the official studio version of HAPPY as released on Tracks.
In a 1992 interview with WUNAW-FM, the DJ asks Springsteen if he was "ever worried that it could have the opposite effect, that artists sometimes when they are happy aren't as productive artistically". Springsteen answers that he doesn't "buy the whole suffering artist. [...] Everybody suffered plenty, it never goes away. But I found a lot of inspiration in... be happy is too one dimensional, but in trying to fill out my life it sort of felt like I was really here." He told Rolling Stone in 1992: "I've struggled with a lot of things over the past two, three years, and it's been real rewarding. I've been very, very happy, truly the happiest I've ever been in my whole life." A considerable portion of the Lucky Town album concentrates on one subject, which is the rewards of a hard-won happy family life. It is very possible that Springsteen wrote HAPPY following the 30 Dec 1991 birth of his daughter in Los Angeles.
The Lucky Town studio sessions spanned a period of about five months, from late summer 1991 to very early 1992. According to the Tracks booklet liner notes, HAPPY was recorded on 18 Jan 1992 at A&M Studios, Los Angeles, CA. It would be the final song completed during the Lucky Town sessions. On this official recording of HAPPY, Springsteen handles all guitars and lead vocals, and is accompanied by Roy Bittan on keyboards and Shawn Pelton on drums. The track was recorded by Toby Scott, mixed by Bob Clearmountain, and produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, and Roy Bittan.
The now-sold-out Backstreets magazine issue #61 (Winter 1998) included a bonus 12-page booklet sized to fit the Tracks box set. The booklet, according to the editors of Backstreets, "takes a comprehensive look at all 66 songs on Tracks by presenting some of Springsteen's own comments about the material in context with each track's researched history (correcting a few Tracks typos along the way) and the editors' contemporary analysis."
According to the booklet, the 18 Jan 1992 recording date listed on the Tracks liner notes is probably a typo. The correct date is more likely 18 Jan 1991. This analysis is based on the fact that "the only other song recorded at A&M Studios on Tracks is 'Goin' Cali', which was recorded a year earlier and suggests that this recording date could be a typo. If 'Happy' was actually recorded on January 18, 1992, rather than 1991, it may be the only song on the box not recorded specifically for an album. The Lucky Town sessions took place in the fall and winter of 1991; by January 1992, it would have been too late for this song to be considered for Lucky Town or Human Touch as the press release announcing both albums, complete with track lists, hit within two weeks of the credited recording date for 'Happy'."
The two opening lines, "Some need gold and some need diamond rings / Or a drug to take away the pain that living brings", are very similar to the opening lines of MY BEAUTIFUL REWARD. The line "Tonight let's shed our skins and slip these bars" can be related to the similarly themed LIVING PROOF.
Tom Moon writes in Knight Ridder Newspapers in November 1998:
A sample lyric from "Happy," one of 55 previously unreleased selections on "Bruce Springsteen: Tracks": "Lost and running beneath a million dead stars. / Tonight let's shed our skins and slip these bars." Are these the words of the boyish Bruce, the Jersey shore rocker who set off decades ago on a hellfire mission to find out "if love is real"? Are they from the more mature Bruce, who chronicled ordinary people bumping up against their own limitations? Or is this the musing of the middle-age father, whose recent works have been somber allegories and earthy reflections on love and loss?
It's one of the revelations of "Tracks" (Columbia, 3-1/2 stars), which arrives in stores Tuesday, that "Happy" could be the product of any of Springsteen's incarnations. Recorded in 1992 during sessions for "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town," it's got those timeless Springsteen signifiers: the yearning to escape from the mundane, the soul-searching followed by a declaration of devotion. He could have written it after "Thunder Road," on the 1975 "Born to Run." Or "Hungry Heart" from 1980's "The River." Or "Two Faces," released on "Tunnel of Love" in 1987.
Like much of the material on this career-spanning four-disc anthology, "Happy" offers proof of what those who love Springsteen already know: That he's spent the last 25 years working out elaborate, bloodthirsty, bracingly honest variations on the theme of transformation.
In the liner notes of his Tracks box set, Bruce Springsteen introduces the box set as follows:
During long intervals between my record releases, as I was spending more and more time in the studio, when I met a fan out on the street I was often asked, "What are you guys doing in there?" I regularly pondered that question myself.
What we were doing in there was making a lot of music, a lot more music than I could use at any one time. As a result, my albums became a series of choices – what to include, what to leave out? I based my decisions on my creative point of view at the moment – the subject I was trying to focus on, something musical or emotional I was trying to express. In certain instances, as on Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and The Ghost of Tom Joad, these choices crystallized the album I was making. On some of my other records the reasons I had for choosing one song over another, in hindsight, feel a good deal less significant. One of the results of working like this was that a lot of music, including some of my favorite things, remained unreleased.
This collection contains everything from the first notes I sang in the Columbia recording studio, my early and later work with the E Street Band, through to my music in the 90s. It's the alternate route to some of the destinations I travelled to on my records, an invitation into the studio on the many nights we spent making music in search of the records we presented to you. I'm glad to finally be able to share this music; here are some of the ones that got away.
- Bruce Springsteen, September 1998
Bruce Springsteen's albums were thematically linked even if they were not strictly concept albums; so some tracks that didn't fit the theme of the album ended up orphaned, not necessarily because they didn't meet his high standards, but because, he says, they didn't fit in with the tone or themes he mined for each set. Many of these unreleased studio outtakes got under the hands of bootleggers. Discussing that issue in 1984, Springsteen told Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder, "We record a lot of material, but we just don't release it all. [...] I always tell myself that some day I'm gonna put an album out with all this stuff on it that didn't fit in. I think there's some good material there that should come out. Maybe at some point, I'll do that."
During a break in The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour, Springsteen thought that "if it's gonna be a year or longer in between records, I have all this music that I know is very good that I never released and I should release some of it whether it was just a CD or something. In that period of time, I should put something out because people would like to have it and I'd like to see it get out." He told Toby Scott (his audio archivist and recording engineer), "send me all the archives, send everything that we recorded". Scott then went to work gathering the potential material from Springsteen's massive audio library (located, along with Sony's sound archives, in the high-tech Iron Mountain facility near Buffalo, NY). "For a week or so," he told Billboard in a Nov 1998 interview, "I just listened to everything that I'd done that we hadn't put out. I made some very brief notes in a notebook, and then I just put it away. It was something that I could do at some point when I get to that place in a new project where I'm not sure how long it's going to take and it would be nice to sort of fill the gap so the fans wouldn't be so long without hearing any music from me".
Springsteen told Mark Hagen in an interview for Mojo magazine published in January 1999, "So it began just with that idea and we listened to about 250 songs, maybe more, I made quick notes in a notebook and put it away. A year went by, more maybe, and I came off the Tom Joad tour and I began to write acoustically again and I wrote about half a record. Then I got stuck and said, 'Well, I'm going to put this aside for a while.' Then I wrote half of an electric record, and hit the same place. So I thought, instead of waiting for another year to put something out I'll put some of this music together. So once again I went back to the archives." According to interview comments made by engineer Toby Scott (Springsteen's audio archivist and recording engineer), it was in February 1998 during solo sessions being conducted at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Colts Neck, NJ, that Springsteen told Scott that the time was right to proceed with the long-anticipated box set of archived, unreleased studio takes. Thrill Hill Recording served as the main operational center for all Tracks project activities. Note that the "Thrill Hill Recording" name is used for whatever home studio Springsteen is recording at, whether it's in Rumson, NJ, Colts, NJ, or Beverly Hills, CA.
Springsteen told Billboard that the songs were culled from between 200 and 300 tunes. According to Toby Scott, the number was down to about 128 songs by late June 1998. It was then narrowed down yet again in July to about 100 songs that were prepped for the Tracks release. Although the project was originally projected to be a 6-disc set, there was a commercial decision made later in the summer to reduce the size of the release to a 4-disc (66-track) set. The package was delivered to Sony in mid-September in order to facilitate the mid-November 1998 release schedule.
Unreleased songs from the Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ sessions were not included on the box set due to ongoing and still-unresolved court proceedings involving most of these unreleased 1972 recordings. The court battle wasn't resolved until in 2001 (April 2001 in the UK and June 2001 in the U.S.), and those recordings are now free for release at any time. The opening four tracks of the box set – which were culled from Springsteen's 03 May 1972 Columbia Records audition – were not part of the court proceedings.
The Tracks box set was released on Columbia Records on 10 Nov 1998, issued on both compact disc and audio cassette formats. It's a 4-disc (or 4-cassette) set consisting of a total of 66 tracks (almost 4.5 hours long), 10 of which were heretofore unavailable single B-sides, 6 were demos and alternate versions of already-released material, and 50 (48 studio and 2 live) were never-before-released songs recorded during the sessions for Springsteen's many albums. Some tracks were treated with a recent touch-up here or there to give the older recordings a fresh polish.
Disc 1 (CD format):
|1.||MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS||Recorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY|
|2.||IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY||Recorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY|
|3.||GROWIN' UP||Recorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY|
|4.||DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?||Recorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY|
|5.||BISHOP DANCED||Recorded live on 31 Jan 1973 at Max's Kansas City, New York City, NY|
|6.||SANTA ANA||Recorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY|
|7.||SEASIDE BAR SONG||Recorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY|
|8.||ZERO AND BLIND TERRY||Recorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY|
|9.||LINDA LET ME BE THE ONE||Recorded on 28 Jun 1975 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY|
|10.||THUNDERCRACK||Recorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY|
|11.||RENDEZVOUS||Recorded live on 31 Dec 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY|
|12.||GIVE THE GIRL A KISS||Recorded on 10 Nov 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY|
|13.||ICEMAN||Recorded on 27 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY|
|14.||BRING ON THE NIGHT||Recorded on 13 Jun 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|15.||SO YOUNG AND IN LOVE||Recorded on 06 Jan 1978 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY|
|16.||HEARTS OF STONE||Recorded on 14 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY|
|17.||DON'T LOOK BACK||Recorded on 02 Jul 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY|
Disc 2 (CD format):
|1.||RESTLESS NIGHTS||Recorded on 11 Apr 1980 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|2.||A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND (PITTSBURGH)||Recorded on 05 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|3.||ROULETTE||Recorded on 03 Apr 1978 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|4.||DOLLHOUSE||Recorded on 21 Aug 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|5.||WHERE THE BANDS ARE||Recorded on 09 Oct 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|6.||LOOSE ENDS||Recorded on 18 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|7.||LIVING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD||Recorded on 07 Dec 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|8.||WAGES OF SIN||Recorded on 10 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|9.||TAKE 'EM AS THEY COME||Recorded on 10 Apr 1980 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|10.||BE TRUE||Recorded on 21 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|11.||RICKY WANTS A MAN OF HER OWN||Recorded on 16 Jul 1979 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY|
|12.||I WANNA BE WITH YOU||Recorded on 31 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|13.||MARY LOU||Recorded on 30 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|14.||STOLEN CAR||Recorded on 26 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|15.||BORN IN THE U.S.A.||Recorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ|
|16.||JOHNNY BYE-BYE||Recorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA|
|17.||SHUT OUT THE LIGHT||Recorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording|
Disc 3 (CD format):
|1.||CYNTHIA||Recorded on 20 Apr 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|2.||MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN||Recorded on 05 May 1982 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|3.||THIS HARD LAND||Recorded on 11 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|4.||FRANKIE||Recorded on 14 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|5.||TV MOVIE||Recorded on 13 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|6.||STAND ON IT||Recorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|7.||LION'S DEN||Recorded on 25 Jan 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY|
|8.||CAR WASH||Recorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|9.||ROCKAWAY THE DAYS||Recorded on 03 Feb 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|10.||BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGES ('83)||Recorded on 04 Sep 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|11.||MAN AT THE TOP||Recorded on 12 Jan 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|12.||PINK CADILLAC||Recorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|13.||TWO FOR THE ROAD||Recorded in February 1987 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ|
|14.||JANEY DON'T YOU LOSE HEART||Recorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|15.||WHEN YOU NEED ME||Recorded on 10 Jan 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|16.||THE WISH||Recorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|17.||THE HONEYMOONERS||Recorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|18.||LUCKY MAN||Recorded on 04 Apr 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
Disc 4 (CD format):
|1.||LEAVIN' TRAIN||Recorded on 27 Feb 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA|
|2.||SEVEN ANGELS||Recorded on 29 Jun 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA|
|3.||GAVE IT A NAME||Recorded on 24 Aug 1998 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ|
|4.||SAD EYES||Recorded on 25 Jan 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|5.||MY LOVER MAN||Recorded on 04 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|6.||OVER THE RISE||Recorded on 07 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|7.||WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT||Recorded on 06 Dec 1990 at The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA|
|8.||LOOSE CHANGE||Recorded on 31 Jan 1991 at Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA|
|9.||TROUBLE IN PARADISE||Recorded on 01 Dec 1989 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|10.||HAPPY||Recorded on 18 Jan 1992 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA|
|11.||PART MAN, PART MONKEY||Recorded in January 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA|
|12.||GOIN' CALI||Recorded on 29 Jan 1991 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA|
|13.||BACK IN YOUR ARMS||Recorded on 12 Jan 1995 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY|
|14.||BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGE||Recorded on 22 May 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA|
In addition to its release on Tracks, the official studio version of HAPPY was also included on Tracks Sampler and was also released on a 1-track Spain-only promotional single.
HAPPY was sound-checked prior to the 10 Aug 2005 show in Portland, OR, (as far as it's known) but it was not performed on any of the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour's regular shows.
As far as it's known, only two artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's HAPPY.
List of available versions of HAPPY on this website:HAPPY [Official studio version]