ICEMAN

Official studio version


Sleepy town ain't got the guts to budge
Baby, this emptiness has already been judged
I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got

You're a strange part of me, you're a preacher's girl
And I don't want no piece of this mechanical world
Got my arms open wide and my blood is running hot

We'll take the midnight road right to the devil's door
And even the white angels of Eden with their flaming swords
Won't be able to stop us from hitting town in this dirty old Ford

Well it don't take no nerve when you got nothing to guard
I got tombstones in my eyes and I'm running real hard
My baby was a lover and the world just blew her away

Once they tried to steal my heart, beat it right out of my head
But baby they didn't know that I was born dead
I am the iceman, fighting for the right to live

I say better than the glory roads of heaven, better off riding hellbound in the dirt
Better than the bright lines of the freeway, better than the shadows of your daddy's church
Better than the waiting, baby better off is the search


Info

ICEMAN is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and first released on the Tracks box set in 1998. The above lyrics are for Bruce Springsteen's official studio version of ICEMAN as released in 1998.

Composition and Recording

Bruce Springsteen reached a final settlement in his year-long litigation with Mike Appel on 28 May 1977. Effectively this meant that for the first time in a year Springsteen was able to go into a studio and record. The Darkness On The Edge Of Town recording sessions kicked off in early June 1977 at Atlantic Studios, New York City, NY. According to the Tracks booklet liner notes, ICEMAN was recorded on 27 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant in New York City, NY. The track was recorded by Jimmy Iovine, mixed by Thom Panunzio, and produced by Bruce Springsteen and Jon Landau.

Springsteen had completely forgotten this song existed until he started listening to material to compile the Tracks box set; Bob Benjamin assembled a few box set suggestions from bootlegs and gave them to Bruce. Springsteen told Mark Hagen in an interview for Mojo magazine published in January 1999, "Bob Benjamin sent me a tape with about three songs on it, and 'Iceman' was one of them. I had forgotten I had even written it and I had no idea what it was, and I went back and it was a pretty nice song. Finding some of the things you'd forgot you had done, that was fun [...] 'Iceman', like 'Born in the U.S.A.', was just something that I didn't get at the time that I did it."

Bootleg Releases

ICEMAN has first surfaced on bootlegs in the mid-eighties, under the tile "The Iceman". In the CD era, it appeared on many bootlegs, including The Definitive Darkness Outtakes Collection (E Street Records), Darkness Outtakes 1978 Vol. 1: The Iceman (Scorpio), and Son You May Kiss The Bride (unknown label, taken from the eighties bootleg LP of the same title). That circulating version of ICEMAN is actually the same recording that appears on Tracks, but the mix is different (it includes some backing vocals) and the sound is not so clean and suffers from drop-outs.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Definitive Darkness Outtakes Collection (E Street Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Definitive Darkness Outtakes Collection (E Street Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- Darkness Outtakes 1978 Vol. 1: The Iceman (Scorpio)
Bruce Springsteen -- Darkness Outtakes 1978 Vol. 1: The Iceman (Scorpio)
Bruce Springsteen -- Son You May Kiss The Bride (unknown label)
Bruce Springsteen -- Son You May Kiss The Bride (unknown label)

Lyrics

The line "I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got" appears on BADLANDS. IN a Nov 1998 interview for Billboard, Springsteen was asked, "'Iceman' is the first to contain words from 'Badlands' – 'I wanna go out tonight. I wanna find out what I got.' The ability to see what you nicked from your earlier material for future songs is part of what makes the set so compelling." Springsteen replies, "That line is what I was thinking about at that time. I hadn't recorded in a couple of years. I was stuck in that big lawsuit [with former manager Mike Appel] in the early part of my career, and there was a tremendous amount of 'whatever happened to' articles at that time. That whole record was a record where I felt like I was going to have to test myself and that was what I wanted to know, so that line ended up in a few different songs."

Tracks

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 consists of material from 1972 to 1980, including Springsteen's very first Columbia Records audition for legendary A & R executive John Hammond. This disc also features additional songs most of which recorded for (but never released on) Springsteen's first four albums.
  • Disc 2 consists of material from 1979 to 1983, taken primarily from the recording sessions of The River, Nebraska, and Born In The U.S.A.. Springsteen describes this disc as "almost the completely other album from 'The River'."
  • Disc 3 consists of material from 1982 to 1987, taken primarily from the recording sessions of Born In The U.S.A. and Tunnel Of Love.
  • Disc 4 consists of material from 1989 to 1998, taken primarily from the recording sessions of Human Touch.
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks

Disc 1 (CD format):

1.MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSASRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
2.IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITYRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
3.GROWIN' UPRecorded 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 DANCEDRecorded live on 31 Jan 1973 at Max's Kansas City, New York City, NY
6.SANTA ANARecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
7.SEASIDE BAR SONGRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
8.ZERO AND BLIND TERRYRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
9.LINDA LET ME BE THE ONERecorded on 28 Jun 1975 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
10.THUNDERCRACKRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
11.RENDEZVOUSRecorded live on 31 Dec 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
12.GIVE THE GIRL A KISSRecorded on 10 Nov 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
13.ICEMANRecorded on 27 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
14.BRING ON THE NIGHTRecorded on 13 Jun 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
15.SO YOUNG AND IN LOVERecorded on 06 Jan 1978 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
16.HEARTS OF STONERecorded on 14 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
17.DON'T LOOK BACKRecorded on 02 Jul 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY

Disc 2 (CD format):

1.RESTLESS NIGHTSRecorded 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.ROULETTERecorded on 03 Apr 1978 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
4.DOLLHOUSERecorded on 21 Aug 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
5.WHERE THE BANDS ARERecorded on 09 Oct 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
6.LOOSE ENDSRecorded on 18 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
7.LIVING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLDRecorded on 07 Dec 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
8.WAGES OF SINRecorded on 10 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
9.TAKE 'EM AS THEY COMERecorded on 10 Apr 1980 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
10.BE TRUERecorded on 21 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
11.RICKY WANTS A MAN OF HER OWNRecorded on 16 Jul 1979 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
12.I WANNA BE WITH YOURecorded on 31 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
13.MARY LOURecorded on 30 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
14.STOLEN CARRecorded 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-BYERecorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA
17.SHUT OUT THE LIGHTRecorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording

Disc 3 (CD format):

1.CYNTHIARecorded on 20 Apr 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
2.MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWNRecorded on 05 May 1982 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
3.THIS HARD LANDRecorded on 11 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
4.FRANKIERecorded on 14 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
5.TV MOVIERecorded on 13 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
6.STAND ON ITRecorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
7.LION'S DENRecorded on 25 Jan 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
8.CAR WASHRecorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
9.ROCKAWAY THE DAYSRecorded 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 TOPRecorded on 12 Jan 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
12.PINK CADILLACRecorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
13.TWO FOR THE ROADRecorded in February 1987 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
14.JANEY DON'T YOU LOSE HEARTRecorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
15.WHEN YOU NEED MERecorded on 10 Jan 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
16.THE WISHRecorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
17.THE HONEYMOONERSRecorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
18.LUCKY MANRecorded on 04 Apr 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY

Disc 4 (CD format):

1.LEAVIN' TRAINRecorded on 27 Feb 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA
2.SEVEN ANGELSRecorded on 29 Jun 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA
3.GAVE IT A NAMERecorded on 24 Aug 1998 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
4.SAD EYESRecorded on 25 Jan 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
5.MY LOVER MANRecorded on 04 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
6.OVER THE RISERecorded on 07 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
7.WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUTRecorded on 06 Dec 1990 at The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA
8.LOOSE CHANGERecorded on 31 Jan 1991 at Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA
9.TROUBLE IN PARADISERecorded on 01 Dec 1989 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
10.HAPPYRecorded on 18 Jan 1992 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA
11.PART MAN, PART MONKEYRecorded in January 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
12.GOIN' CALIRecorded on 29 Jan 1991 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA
13.BACK IN YOUR ARMSRecorded on 12 Jan 1995 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
14.BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGERecorded on 22 May 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA

Other Official Releases

live.brucespringsteen.net
Audio recordings for most High Hopes Tour shows were officially released on live.brucespringsteen.net. These include one version of ICEMAN.

  1. 19 Apr 2014 at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
live.brucespringsteen.net
Audio recordings for all The River Tour 2016 shows were officially released on live.brucespringsteen.net. These include one version of ICEMAN.

  1. 13 Jul 2016 at Accorhotels Arena, Paris, France

Live History

ICEMAN was performed once during the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour (72 dates, April to November 2005), on 17 May 2005 in Upper Darby, PA. The song was played solo on piano. See the live 17 May 2005 version for more details.

ICEMAN was performed once during the High Hopes Tour (34 dates, January to May 2014), on 19 Apr 2014 in Charlotte, NC. The song was played in a slow full-band arrangement. Audio recordings for most High Hopes Tour shows are officially available for purchase. See the live 19 Apr 2014 version for more details.

ICEMAN was performed once during the during The River Tour 2016 (75 dates, January to September 2016), on 13 Jul 2016 in Paris, France. The song was played in a slow full-band arrangement. Audio recordings for all The River Tour 2016 shows are officially available for purchase. See the live 13 Jul 2016 version for more details.

Appearance in Movies

Bruce Springsteen's official studio version of ICEMAN appears in one movie.

Promotional poster for the film "In The Land Of Women"
It was used in the 2007 film In The Land Of Women, directed by Jon Kasdan and starring Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart, and Meg Ryan. The song was not included in the film's soundtrack album.

Covers

As far as it's known, only one artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's ICEMAN.

Various artists -- For You 2: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- For You 2: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

2xCD - Route 66 Music (DTCDA005-2) - Italy, 2010

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. ICEMAN is performed by Massimiliano Larocca.

Available Versions

List of available versions of ICEMAN on this website:

ICEMAN [Official studio version]
ICEMAN [Live 17 May 2005 version]
ICEMAN [Live 19 Apr 2014 version]
ICEMAN [Live 13 Jul 2016 version]

Page last updated: 16 Oct 2016