Another amazing Video Blog (Vlog) Post from our good friend Mike Macaluso. Backstreets is one of our most requested songs and one of our favorites to play. Enjoy Mikes Post, Sully
The original lyric sheet that referenced many of the lyrics to the song was entitled, “Hidin’ on the River,” retitled “On the River,” then simply “River.” After more revisions, listed as “Fallin’ on the Backstreets” before deciding on the final title.
There are three alternate takes of Backstreets known to exist with lyrical differences and strings mixed in, as well as a fantastic extended introduction. It was played at virtually every show from its debut in Red Bank, NJ, August 6, 1975 until the middle of The River tour, where it was played sporadically throughout the rest of that tour as well as the Born in the USA and Tunnel of Love Express tours.
On December 31, 1977 Bruce made a drunken guest appearance with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. This show was broadcast on the radio until the point where the DJ’s broke in and cut the broadcast for legal reasons. There is a black and white bootleg video of this performance.
In 1980, a fragment of Backstreets is included on an LP entitled The Pitman Family of Music, which was given to employees of CBS records. Played at nearly every show in the first two months of the Born in the USA tour, and then occasionally for the remainder of the tour.
Backstreets is released in live form, although edited from the original masterpiece which included his superb “Sad Eyes” segue, on his 1986 release Live / 1975-85, recorded at The Roxy in Los Angeles on July 7, 1978.
In 1988, Backstreets is played sporadically for the first leg of the Tunnel of Love Express tour, in place of “Walk Like A Man”. On the European leg, the song is in that same position for all shows in the first two weeks, through June 28, 1988 at Stadion Feynoord in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where it was played for the final time in the ’80’s.
Backstreets made a surprise one off appearance after nearly a ten-year lay-off at the Sergeant Patrick King Memorial Concert on January 31, 1998 in Red Bank, NJ. Played at the March 18 and 19, 1999 rehearsal shows at the Convention Center in Asbury Park, NJ and regularly on the 1999-2000 reunion tour.
Backstreets made its final appearance to date June 29, 2000 at Madison Square Garden. That final live version of the song was released on November 6, 2001 on only the DVD format of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City in the version recorded June 29, 2000 at Madison Square Garden. It’s played during the August 2, 2002 rehearsal show. On August 20, 2002, at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR, the song is back in the set. The song took the place of “American Skin,” in what had been a standard set since the beginning of the tour. The song was only played on occasion throughout the remainder of the tour.
The song made its tour debut on the Devils & Dust tour on August 6, 2005, in St. Louis, MO, in a version performed solo, on the grand piano. It is played only a few more times throughout the remainder of the tour, with its final performance on November 21, 2005 in Trenton, NJ.
On November 15, 2005, the live show from Hammersmith Odeon in London, England on November 18, 1975 is released on DVD in the Born to Run 30th Anniversary box set, in which the song is included. On February 28, 2006, the audio portion of the Hammersmith 1975 show is released in CD format.
Rehearsed during September 2007 rehearsals for the Magic tour and put in the set on October 14, 2007 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was played regularly throughout the tour.
On April 22, 2008 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL, the song is in the set again—this time as a tribute to the missing member of the band; Danny Federici, whose funeral was only the previous day. The song is played in the traditional arrangement with one thing missing… the sound of Danny’s organ. During this live performance Danny’s B-3 serves one purpose, visually, with a spotlight on it, and Danny’s accordion, which are silent for the length of the song.
During the Working on a Dream tour, it’s only played a few times on the first two legs of the tour and then on the final US leg, Backstreets is played quite often, including at 13 performances of the entire Born to Run album.
On November 16, 2010, Yet another live recording is of Backstreets is released as part of The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story, 3 CD / 3 DVD set. It’s included on DVD #3- Thrill Hill Vault- Houston ’78 Bootleg House Cut, a never before seen concert recorded at The Summit in Houston, TX on December 8, 1978.
Backstreets has only been played occasionally on the 2012 legs of the Wrecking Ball tour.