I’m currently reading Jeff Burger’s interview compendium “Springsteen On Springsteen” (full review to come soon) and something that struck me about the early interviews is just how little money Bruce had when he was starting out. Even after releasing two albums, Bruce and the band were barely scraping by and much of the time couldn’t afford to pay their rent. According to Bruce in one of the interviews, an early hope for more financial success was when David Bowie decided to cover a couple of Bruce’s songs: “Growin’ Up” and “It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City.”
Bowie recorded his covers in ’73 and ’74 but didn’t end up releasing either commercially until years later on reissues and collector’s editions. Legend goes that when the two met in ’74, Bowie told Bruce that he was the only American artist he would consider covering. Even though the songs weren’t released at the time, Bruce mentions in an interview that if Bowie keeps covering his songs, they might be able to make some money.
What do you think of Bowie’s versions? Personally, I’m partial to “Growin’ Up” and actually think I prefer it to Bruce’s original version (but not the acoustic version on Tracks).