Friday, June 22, 2012

First Drafts - Spanish Eyes (I'm On Fire)

A couple weeks ago, we examined "Wings for Wheels", Bruce's early version of "Thunder Road".  In that version, both the music and lyrics were about 75% of the way to the classic that everyone knows.  Here, in "Spanish Eyes", a cut from 2010's The Promise, we see very familiar lyrics in a completely unfamiliar setting.

In Pitchfork's review of the album, they state, "The Promise ultimately confirms that Springsteen is a brilliant editor of his own material."  Listening to this song, I couldn't agree more.  While some may classify this under the genre of "Beautiful Bruce", the song is overly sappy.  With soft piano music and lines about kissing his lover's eyes (which sounds quite off-putting), this song tries to hard to create a romantic atmosphere in a time when Bruce was writing about sad, desperate lovers.  It isn't surprising that most of this song ended up on the cutting floor.  But that's the key word, isn't it?  "Most".

The first two lines, not particularly strongly delivered in this version, ended up being reused as the iconic opening of one of Bruce's greatest songs.  A third line ("Can he do the things that I'll do for you?") is slightly tweaked and included as well.  This is another example of Bruce saving a few lines from an otherwise forgettable song until the right time comes along.  The "Spanish Eyes"/"I'm On Fire" reworking is my personal favorite, but if you listen to Tracks and The Promise, you'll find more lines here and there that were included in later hits.

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