The song I can’t stop listening to: “Dream Baby Dream”

Bruce Springsteen has a song oeuvre in the hundreds. The setlists for his legendarily long concerts are 99 percent his music. But he occasionally covers another artist’s work. That’s the case with a beautiful song that I first heard him sing in 2005 and again the other night on the Stand Up for Heroes concert. Since then, I’ve been mesmerized by this song and have listened to it dozens of times. Two video versions below.

SUFHlogoThe Stand Up for Heroes Concert is an annual event co-sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival to honor wounded warriors. (Woodruff is an ABC News reporter who was almost killed by an IED in Iraq in 2006.) This year’s, the seventh annual event, was held November 6 at the theater at Madison Square Garden, a 5800-seat venue. Like last year’s event, it was streamed live on YouTube and thus on my big beautiful TV set.  (Some people buy big HD flatscreens to watch football; I bought mine to watch rock concerts.)

I really needed a Bruce Springsteen fix, since it’s been 14 months since I saw him live at Wrigley Field last September. (See Related Links below.) So I was very excited about this concert. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd opened with his band and the Wounded Warriors Project, a band of warriors with instruments, voices, missing limbs, and other wounds we could not see. They played a great set including Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”  “Hallelujah” included a beautiful solo by Tim Donley, a veteran with an amazing voice–and no legs.

You can donate to Stand Up for Heroes here, by the way. This year’s concert raised a record $5 million. The Woodruff foundation has raised $20 million to help veterans after they return home.

Bruce came on solo to do an acoustic set. First of all, however, he did his dirty joke routine.  “I don’t understand this. A night of comedy for soldiers…and the entire night went by with no dirty jokes?” Bruce had to tell his bad dirty jokes, one between each pair of songs.

He sang an acoustic version of “Dancing in the Dark,” and then his wife, Patti Scialfa, came out to share the mic on “If I Should Fall Behind.” Finally, he went to the pump organ to sing “Dream Baby Dream,” a really beautiful song that he has rarely performed live.

The first time he played DBD was May 11, 2005, at the first Devils & Dust concert at the  Rosemont Theatre. (What? You don’t think I keep notes of these important historical events?) That theater is a nice venue for a solo performer. (I saw Leonard Cohen there too.) “Dream” was the last song in Bruce’s 24-song set and I had never heard it before. The fans I was with hadn’t either and there was a great buzz on the message boards that night and the next day. Many thought it was the Roy Orbison song, “Dream Baby,” but I knew it wasn’t the same melody.

The next day someone (or many someones) figured out that the song was by the punk band Suicide, which influenced Springsteen’s album Nebraska.  Among other Suicide recordings, “Dream Baby Dream” is on their album called Attempted: Live at Max’s Kansas City 1980. 

You can watch Bruce’s 21-minute SUFH set (including bad jokes) here.

And you can also watch another beautiful version of “Dream Baby Dream” in this 5-minute video that Bruce released at the end of his Wrecking Ball tour to say thanks to his fans. The video, edited by the super-talented Thom Zimny, includes clips of Bruce from various concerts and lots of footage of fans and their reactions. I’m sure I’m in there somewhere.

I’m still looking for an audio-only version of DBD that I can download for my iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. So far I haven’t found any, either free or for purchase. There are rumors that it will be on the next album, which he better be working on right now. 2014 tour in North America, Mr. Springsteen? So I recorded the audio from the video as a voice memo on my iPhone. Bruce fans will do anything for a few minutes with their favorite musician.

Related links:

Wrigley x 2. Two wonderful nights at Wrigley Field in September 2012. My favorite musician and my favorite ballpark.

I believe in rock and roll. My very first blog post, in which I tell how much I love rock and roll and how it all started.

The 12-12-12 concert for Sandy last December. A great night and a British invasion.

Live music is always better and here’s why.

2 Comments on “The song I can’t stop listening to: “Dream Baby Dream””

  1. Uma Bode says:

    And you got your wish – it’s on High Hopes. Do you listen to it a lot? Were you sad when they pulled the pipe organ off stage at the end of the show in Nashville and he did Thunder Road instead?

    I was crying in Charlotte when he played it. I think a lot of us were. Hope you hear it again soon. Hope I hear it again soon!

    Great blogging and I look forward to exploring more.


    • nancysbishop says:

      I do listen to it a lot. I have the DBD video bookmarked and also listen to it on High Hopes. In Nashville, the Thunder Road solo was so cool that it made me forget i wanted to hear DBD live. I’ve only heard it live on the D&D tour.


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