WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY

Album version


Last night I was out driving
Coming home at the end of the working day
I was riding alone through the drizzling rain
On a deserted stretch of a county two-lane
When I came upon a wreck on the highway

Now there was blood and glass all over
And there was nobody there but me
As the rain tumbled down hard and cold
I seen a young man lying by the side of the road
He cried "Mister, won't you help me please"

An ambulance finally came and took him to Riverside
I watched as they drove him away
And I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife
And a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
To say "your baby died in a wreck on the highway"

Sometimes I sit up in the darkness
And I watch my baby as she sleeps
Then I climb in bed and I hold her tight
I just lay there awake in the middle of the night
Thinking 'bout the wreck on the highway


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Info

WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 1980 album The River. The above lyrics are for Bruce Springsteen's album version of WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY as released in 1980.

Composition and Recording

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The River

Bruce Springsteen wrapped up the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour on the first day of 1979. For the next few months, he altered between composing and practicing solo demos at his home in Holmdel, NJ (between January and June 1979), rehearsing with the band at his Telegraph Hill Road property in Holmdel, NJ (between March and May 1979), and recording in studio at The Power Station in New York City, NY (from March to late August 1979).

By the end of August, enough quality material had been recorded at The Power Station, and it was looking like an album might be released in Christmas 1979. A title, "The Ties That Bind", and tracks were selected and wheels put in motion to produce artwork for the cover. Around September, at least ten tracks were mixed to completion. On 04 Oct 1979, the ten selected tracks were dubbed to two half-track reel-to-reel tapes at The Power Station, and labeled "side one" and "side two". The producer was Jon Landau and the engineers were Neil Dorfsman and Bob Clearmountain. These selected tracks were as follows:


Bruce Springsteen -- The Ties That Bind (reel #1, front)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Ties That Bind (reel #1, front)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Ties That Bind (reel #2, front)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Ties That Bind (reel #2, front)

Mock covers with "The Ties That Bind" title were roughed out early in the planning. The cover shot was to be a picture of Bruce Springsteen in front of a barn, with the back cover being a shot of his face behind a screen door. In late September 1979, and for reasons never fully explained, The Ties That Bind album was scrapped as Springsteen's writing process continued.

A second phase of recording sessions was scheduled. Again, for the next few months, Springsteen altered between composing and practicing solo demos at his home in Holmdel, NJ (between September 1979 and February 1980), rehearsing with the band at his Telegraph Hill Road property in Holmdel, NJ (between September 1979 and February 1980), and recording in studio at The Power Station in New York City, NY (from October 1979 to June 1980).

The combined sessions from March 1979 to June 1980 produced the double album The River that was eventually released in October 1980. The studio sessions to some extent extended into August 1980 due to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's involvement in the recording of Gary U.S. Bonds' album Dedication, which was released April 1981).

Bruce Springsteen -- The River
Bruce Springsteen -- The River

The album features 20 new Springsteen compositions and clocks at 83:47. It was produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau, and Steven Van Zandt, engineered by Neil Dorfsman, and mixed by Bob Clearmountain, Chuck Plotkin, and Toby Scott. Track list:

According to recording engineer Neil Dorfsman, about 50 songs were recorded to a completed state during The River sessions. 20 were released on The River and 14 were released as B-sides and on official compilations. 14 songs are circulating via the unofficial route, but the majority of them are poor recordings of band rehearsals at the Telegraph Hill Road property, though it is likely that most of them exist as completed takes from The Power Station.

Other Official Releases

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Other versions of WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY were also officially released.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Arizona State University, Tempe 1980
The live 05 Nov 1980 version of WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY was released on the Arizona State University, Tempe 1980 official live download in 2015.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Nassau Coliseum, New York 1980
The live 31 Dec 1980 version of WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY was released on the Nassau Coliseum, New York 1980 official live download in 2015.
John Wesley Harding -- Awake: The New Edition
The live 18 Jun 1994 version of WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY was released on John Wesley Harding's Awake: The New Edition album in 2001. See the live 18 Jun 1994 version for more details.

Live History

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Covers

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

CD - Totem Records (TTM 480499 2) - Italy, 1995

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY is performed by Flor.
Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen

2xCD - The Right Stuff (7243 8 59780 2 9) - USA, 1997
2xCD - EMI (TOCP-50377/8) - Japan, 1997

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. Disc 1 was reissued in 2000 as The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen. WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY is performed by Nils Lofgren.
John Wesley Harding -- Awake: The New Edition
John Wesley Harding -- Awake: The New Edition

CD - Appleseed Recordings (APR1040) - USA, 2001

This is a remastered and expanded reissue of Harding's 1998 album Awake. Among the five bonus tracks are covers of JACKSON CAGE and WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY, the latter being a live version featuring a guest appearance by Bruce Springsteen.
Hungry Hearts -- Live In My Hometown
Hungry Hearts -- Live In My Hometown

CD-R - no label (no catalog number) - Italy, 2015

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album, recorded live on 09 Jan 2015 at Inferno Di Dante in Tortona, Italy.

References

Some of the above info about the studio recording and the live performances is taken from Brucebase.

Available Versions

List of available versions of WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY on this website:

WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY [Album version]
WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY [Live 18 Jun 1994 version]

Page last updated: 21 Nov 2016