In 1995, Bruce Springsteen produced the album American Babylon for his old friend, Pittsburgh rocker, Joe Grushecky. He also played on the album and co-wrote two of the tracks. This isn’t surprising in the least, he generally contributes material to musical projects he works on (the Album Hearts of Stone by fellow Asbury Park soulsters Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes is a case in point).
What is a little surprising is that the song labour of love, wasn’t one of those he co-wrote with Grushecky.
Why is that surprising?
If you listen to the song, there is a distinctive guitar riff around which the entire track revolves. To any Springsteen fan, this riff should seem very familiar.
If you are having trouble placing it, let me just jog your memory a little…
Appearing at 0:50, is the very same riff; note for note. How do two such different tracks end up containing the exact same riff?
Land of Hope and Dreams, one of Springsteen’s most inspiring and sonically beautiful songs, appeared on 2012’s Wrecking Ball, fully seventeen years after the American Babylon album was released.
I am more than a little curious as to how such a distinctive riff resurfaces in a radically different track. Did Springsteen originally donate the riff to Grushecky, only to reclaim it for his own use many years later? Did he include it in Land of hope and Dreams as an homage to his old friend?
Oddities like this one always fascinate me. I would love to know the background story, but have so far failed to uncover any useful information.