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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Holiday Songs

Updated on February 2, 2013

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have been making music since 1972. Bruce’s music (a mixture of Rock and Roll, R&B, Soul, Country & Western and Folk) depicts the struggles of the common man and the never ending quest to obtain your dreams. Also, in the last 40 years, they have come up with a few decent Holiday tunes. Listed below are 5 of my favorite Holiday songs by Bruce :

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

On December 12, 1975, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played a gig at CW Post College on Long Island. They had released the album Born to Run earlier that summer. They were learning that just because they had produced a great album did not mean that people would flood to their concerts. In fact it was estimated that most of those attending that night had never heard the band. They were there to see the “Next Big Thing” The 3,000 people who were in attendance that night got a treat. The first encore was a cover of the Christmas chestnut Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The crowd loved it. It would have been lost to the ages, had Bruce’s manager, Mike Appel, not recorded the show. The next year, Columbia Records released a tape version to radio stations. In the following years, it became a staple on FM rock radio stations and a feature in concerts in the Holiday Season. In 1985, it was made available the public as the “B” side of the My Hometown single. Since then they has played it dozens of times during the holiday season and it is a crowd favorite. Done loosely in the Phil Spector arrangement, it features a fine sax solo by Clarence Clemons. Bruce’s vocals are raw and later unreleased versions are better vocally. This may be Bruce’s most popular recorded performance.

A Very Special Christmas. A benefit album for the Special Olympics
A Very Special Christmas. A benefit album for the Special Olympics | Source

Merry Christmas, Baby

This oft recorded (Elvis, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison to name a few) R & B standard was recorded in concert on December 31, 1980 at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. It was released on the benefit album A Very Special Christmas in 1982. It receives a moderate amount of airplay during the holiday season, but The E Street Band rarely plays it. It was last played in Buffalo in 2009. The band delivered a great version of it on The Late Show with Conan O’Brian in December 2002.


Blue Christmas

Recorded at the Carousel in Asbury Park in December 2010 to a crowd of 59 hand picked fans, this was the only time Bruce and the band have played this Elvis classic. The band performed 4 other songs from The Promise (the 2010 release of 20 songs that were recorded in 1978, but not released). The short show was recorded for on line broadcast in 2010,and released as an added bonus feature to the DVD The Promise, the Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town in 2011. I have not heard this song on the radio. This was the last performance with the E Street Band for Clarence Clemons before his death in June 2011

Bruce recording the concert at the Carousel, Asbury Park, NJ. December 2010
Bruce recording the concert at the Carousel, Asbury Park, NJ. December 2010 | Source


Before I proceed, I need to tell you the next 2 songs are not available at your local record store, or iTunes. However there are people and websites who do make them available for downloads. I will not link you to them here because I don’t want to violate HubPages rules. Springsteen fanatics like myself will already know how to find them and anyone else who wants them can find them with a quick Google search.

Pilgrim in the Temple of Love

If Blue Christmas is rare, this song is absolutely obscure. Written by Bruce on his acoustic tour in 1996 this song is profane, raw, and funny as hell. It’s also not for children. The song involves Bruce and Santa Claus in a New Jersey strip joint (think Bada-Bing) on Christmas Eve. (I won’t go into details. Here is a link to the lyrics. If you are easily offended, DON’T GO THERE). Bruce only played this song 20 times on the 1996 tour. It was never recorded.

Auld Land Syne

Notice above the title says Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Holiday Songs, Not Christmas Songs. This song was played on New Years Eve 1980 in the same concert that produced Merry Christmas, Baby. After the crowd counted off the seconds to the New Year, the band launched into an instrumental version of this classic. Guy Lombardo’s version it is not. It is played at a faster speed with Clarence’s sax in the lead. It is a great performance. The E Street Band only played it twice before this evening and hasn’t played it since.


Bruce and the band in 2008 (with a special guest)
Bruce and the band in 2008 (with a special guest) | Source


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    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks for read shingirisheyes and Vincent Moore

    • profile image

      Vincent Moore 5 years ago

      Merry Christmas my poet, may this Eve find your well. My blessings I send to you and yours and may the New Year bring you peace, health and continual love for your fellow man/woman/child. Hugs

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Bruce is one of my favorites and his Christmas songs bring up many memories.