Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen song)
|Single by Bruce Springsteen|
|from the album Born in the U.S.A.|
|B-side||"Stand on It"|
|Released||May 31, 1985|
|Genre||Heartland rock, blues-rock, folk rock|
|Length||4:15 (album version)
5:31 (alternate mix)
|Producer(s)||Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt|
|Bruce Springsteen singles chronology|
"Glory Days" was recorded in April or May 1982 (sources differ) during the first wave of Born in the U.S.A. sessions. Even though the album went through several different phases of what would be on it, "Glory Days" was always seen as one of the cornerstones.
The song is a seriocomic tale of a man who now ruefully looks back on his so-called "glory days" and those of people he knew during high school. The lyrics to the first verse are autobiographical, being a recount of an encounter Springsteen had with former Little League baseball teammate Joe DePugh in the summer of 1973.
The music is jocular, consisting of what Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh called "rinky-dink organ, honky-tonk piano, and garage-band guitar kicked along by an explosive tom-tom pattern." It also features a mandolin solo from Steven Van Zandt, one of the sideman's most noticeable instrumental contributions to the Springsteen studio canon.
The single peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles charts in the summer of 1985. It was the fifth of a record-tying seven Top 10 hit singles to be released from Born in the U.S.A. Marsh named the second volume in his biography after the song.
An alternate mix of the song includes an extra verse about the narrator's father, who worked at the Ford auto plant in Metuchen, New Jersey, for twenty years and who now spends most of his time at the American Legion Hall, thinking about how he "ain't never had glory days." However, after Springsteen realized that this verse did not fit with the song's storyline, it was cut out. The second verse of the original demo of the song (which had a different chorus from the final version and only two verses) also focuses on the narrator's father's hardships.
The music video for the song was shot in late May 1985 in various locations in New Jersey, and was directed by filmmaker John Sayles, the third video he had done for the album. It featured a narrative story of Springsteen, playing the protagonist in the song, talking to his young son and pitching to a wooden backstop against an imaginary lineup (he eventually lost the game to Graig Nettles). The baseball field scene was shot at Miller Park Stadium in West New York, NJ. The field is inside a city block surrounded mostly by homes. Intercut with these were scenes of Springsteen and the E Street Band lip-synching the song in a bar. The bar performance scenes were filmed at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ.
Although he had left the band more than two years earlier, Steven Van Zandt was invited back to perform in this video, but the two new members of the band, Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa, who had not been on the record at all, were also featured. Springsteen's then-wife Julianne Phillips made a cameo appearance at the baseball field at the end.
The video began airing on MTV in mid-June 1985 and went into heavy rotation.
- Glory Days - 4:15
- Stand On It - 2:30
The B-side of the single, "Stand On It", was a rocker that would later occasionally be brought out in encores of concerts. "Stand On It" would become a late 1980s hit for country singer Mel McDaniel. Stand On It was also featured in the movie Ruthless People and was also on its accompanying soundtrack album.
Live performance history
"Glory Days" became a mainstay of the first set on the 1984-1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour (prefaced by remarks in which Springsteen declared, "I hated high school!"), then went into the encores for the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express and 1992-1993 "Other Band" Tour, in the latter case serving as the "band introductions" song. It was given a rest for the 1999-2000 Reunion Tour, but then came back to appear in about half the shows on the 2002-2003 Rising Tour. Furthermore Springsteen often plays it in informal bar appearances, since it is one of his simpler songs for other musicians to pick up and play to.
In almost all instances, performances of "Glory Days" are accompanied by considerable Springsteen/E Street Band stage shtick, vamping on the outro, continuing the song on with false endings, everyone but the drummer and keyboard players coming out to stage front in a line, and so forth. A good example of the elongated concert "Glory Days" was on a highly promoted July 30, 2002 appearance on The Today Show broadcasting from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Later in The Rising Tour, the song would become further extended by incorporating a long boogie-woogie organ solo from Danny Federici. Steven Van Zandt makes his vocals shine on this song, most recently on the Springsteen's Magic Tour.
Springsteen made a surprise appearance on Late Night with David Letterman on June 25, 1993 and played "Glory Days". Springsteen was the final guest on Letterman's last "Late Night" show on NBC. In his introduction to Springsteen's appearance, Letterman noted how Springsteen was the one performer he wished he had booked as a guest during his "Late Night" run, and that he was thankful that he was able to finally have Springsteen perform on that final show.
"Glory Days" was played during Michael J. Fox's farewell scene during the season finale of the fourth season of Spin City, as well as during a montage scene with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
"Glory Days" was performed at the 2009 Super Bowl half-time show with minor lyric changes appropriate to the occasion (football player instead of baseball player, "Hail Mary" instead of "speedball".) During the song, Springsteen told Steve Van Zandt that they were going over their allotted 12 minutes, and Van Zandt responded that they should keep playing anyway.
"Glory Days" was performed on June 14, 2009 at the Bonnaroo Music Festival with Phish.
"Glory Days" is played after every New Jersey Devils win at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The song also played when the Devils won at their former arena, Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ.
- Coyne, Kevin. "Story Behind the Glory". Cape Cod Times, published July 10, 2011. Page C8.
- Audio of the demo with the missing verse about his father on YouTube
- Born in the U.S.A. The World Tour (tour booklet, 1985), Tour chronology.
- Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7.
- Brucebase recording sessions history
- Killing Floor song performance database
- Palm Beach Post News: Their 'Glory Days' of Friendship