Bruce Springsteen fans go to his shows expecting the setlist to include songs they’ve heard a million times before.
But they’re hoping for something else, too: tunes they’ve never heard him do before, and may never have the chance to hear him do again.
More than virtually any other classic rocker, Springsteen makes major changes in his shows from night to night. Some songs became mainstays, others drift away and then come back into the rotation — and sometimes, a song will show up just once, and never reappear. The Boss’ recent Australian tour, where he sang "Spill the Wine" at a winery and the Bee Gees’ "Stayin’ Alive," just because that group is Australian, is a good reminder of this. There’s a good chance these songs will never surface again.
With the help of the online Brucebase (brucebase.wikispaces.com), which compiles information about all known Springsteen performances, I’ve put together this list of songs that, as of today, Springsteen has only performed once.
Note: I’ve limited the list to songs from Springsteen concerts, with or without the E Street Band (so, that includes the Seeger Sessions and "Other Band" tours). Not eligible: songs performed at multi-artist benefits and other special events (such as TV tapings and private concerts), songs from shows before 1973 (when Springsteen released his first album), fragments of songs (whether performed on their own or inserted into other numbers) and guest appearances at other artists’ shows. I’ve also left out some collaborations with guests at Springsteen shows, and some songs on which other E Street Band members sang lead.
If you were there for any of these performances, and have memories of them, please feel free to talk about them in the comments section, below.
Feb. 12: "Hunter of Invisible Game" at Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide, Australia. A poetic, mysterious track from Springsteen’s new "High Hopes" album.
Feb. 19: "Don’t Change" at Allphones Arena, Sydney, Australia. The INXS song; the group hails from Australia.
Feb. 22: "Drinkin’ Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee" at the Hope Estate Winery, Hunter Valley, Australia. The fun, rollicking Stick McGhee oldie, chosen for obvious reasons.
Feb. 23: "Spill the Wine" at the Hope Estate Winery. The Eric Burdon & War hit, continuing the theme.
Feb. 26: "Stayin’ Alive" at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia. The Bee Gees’ disco classic.
May 8: "Wages of Sin" at HK Areena, Turku, Finland. A haunting, atmospheric "Born in the U.S.A." outtake, included Springsteen’s 1998 rarities boxed set, "Tracks."
July 23: "T.V. Movie" at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. A "Born in the U.S.A." outtake, included on "Tracks."
Sept. 12: "Manifesto" at Movistar Arena, Santiago, Chile. The VÃctor Jara political anthem, sung by Springsteen in Spanish.
May 2: "The Weight" at the Prudential Center in Newark. A tribute to Levon Helm of the Band, who had died on April 19. I was there for this one and can attest to the fact that it was a great, great moment.
May 30: "When I Leave Berlin" at Olympiastadion, Berlin. "1973 song by Wizz Jones.
June 17: "Spanish Eyes" at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid. A "Darkness on the Edge of Town" outtake, released on the 2010 compilation, "The Promise."
July 24: "You’ve Got It" at Koengen, Bergen, Norway. A track from the "Wrecking Ball" album.
Sept. 21: "Living on the Edge of the World" at Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford. A breathlessly fast "River" outtake that was included on "Tracks," and also includes some of the same elements of the "Nebraska" song "Open All Night."
Oct. 31: "A Night With the Jersey Devil" and "Monster Mash" at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. An original song and a cover, to celebrate Halloween.
April 22: "I Wanna Be Sedated" at TD Banknorth Garden, Boston. The Ramones song.
May 2: "Seventh Son" at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C. Written by blues great Willie Dixon.
May 4: "Expressway to Your Heart" at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York. The 1967 Soul Survivors hit.
May 5: "You Really Got Me" at John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va. The Kinks classic.
June 2: "The Dark End of the Street" at Ratinan Stadion, Tampere, Finland. James Carr’s moody masterpiece.
June 27: "Coma Girl" at the Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, England. Written by Joe Strummer of the Clash.
Sept. 20: "Rockin’ Robin" at United Center, Chicago. Another one of many golden oldies performed on this tour.
Oct. 13: "Little Bit o’ Soul" at the Wachovia Spectrum in Philadelphia. A No. 2 hit for the Music Explosion in 1967.
Oct. 14: "What Love Can Do" at the Wachovia Spectrum. A track from the "Working on a Dream" album.
Oct. 19: "All Shook Up," the Elvis Presley classic, performed with Elvis impersonator Nick Ferraro at the Wachovia Spectrum, with a little bit of "Blue Suede Shoes" thrown in. The moment is documented in the 2013 documentary, "Springsteen & I."
Nov. 22: "Restless Nights" at the HSBC Arena, Buffalo. An outtake from "The River," included on "Tracks."
March 24: "You’ll Be Comin’ Down" at Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio. A track from the "Magic" album.
April 22: "I’ll Fly Away" at St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa. The gospel standard, inspired by the April 17 death of E Street Band organist Danny Federici.
April 23: "Mr. Tambourine Man" at the Amway Arena, Orlando. Performed with Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.
Aug. 24: "Boys" and "Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own" at the Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo. The former is the Shirelles hit, with drummer Max Weinberg handling lead vocals (since Ringo Starr sang lead when the Beatles covered it). The latter is an outtake from "The River," included on "Tracks."
Oct. 5: "Samson and Delilah" and "Valerie" at Arena Di Verona, Verona, Italy. The latter is a Patti Scialfa-written song, sung by Scialfa.
(No video available for "Valerie.")
Nov. 18: "Shenandoah" at Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland. A track from the "Seeger Sessions" album.
(No video available.)
May 17: "Iceman" at Tower Theater, Upper Darby, Pa. A "Darkness on the Edge of Town" outtake, included on "Tracks."
July 23: "Sad Eyes" at Philips Arena, Atlanta. A "Human Touch" outtake, included on "Tracks."
July 31: "Lift Me Up" at Value City Theatre, Columbus, Ohio. A Springsteen-written song from the soundtrack of the 1999 film "Limbo."
Sept. 10: "My Ride’s Here" at Skydome, Toronto. The Warren Zevon song, in tribute to Zevon, who died Sept. 7.
Sept. 16: "Let’s Be Friends (Skin to Skin)" at Rentschler Field, Hartford. A track from the "Rising" album.
April 24: "Dollhouse" at Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna. An outtake from the "River" album, included on "Tracks."
June 13: "Car Wash" at Bruno-Platche Stadion, Leipzig, Germany. An outtake from the "Born in the U.S.A." album, included on "Tracks."
Aug. 1: "Trouble River" at Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford. A "Human Touch" outtake, included on "18 Tracks" (a single-CD version of "Tracks").
March 23: "Achy Breaky Heart" at the Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank. Yes, the Billy Ray Cyrus hit, performed at a tour warmup show.
June 26: "You Gotta Walk That Lonesome Valley" at Madison Square Garden, New York. A mournful version of the folk-country standard, performed with Joe Ely.
June 1: "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)" at Slane Castle, Slane, Ireland. The Beach Boys song.
Aug. 20: "Ballad of Easy Rider" at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The Byrds song, from the movie "Easy Rider."
Oct. 25: "On Top of Old Smoky" at the Memorial Coliseum, Portland, Ore. The folk classic, inspired by the eruption of nearby Mount St. Helens earlier that year.
Note: The entire concert is here. To hear "On Top of Old Smoky," go to 1:28:35:
Oct. 31: "Haunted House" at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The Johnny Fuller song kicks off another Halloween show, which also includes a variation of the theme show to the TV show "The Outer Limits."
Nov. 9: "Waltz Across Texas" at Special Events Center at University of Texas, Austin. The Ernest Tubbs song.
July 16: "Honky Tonk" at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans. The swaggering Bill Doggett instrumental.
Aug. 29: "Lonesome Whistle" at the Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh. The Hank Williams song.
Sept. 30: "Night Train" at the Fox Theatre, Atlanta. Clarence Clemons’ saxophone is featured on this song, popularized by James Brown.
Feb. 17: "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" at the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio. Written by Billy Joel. With Ronnie Spector singing lead.
Aug. 1: "She’s Sure the Girl I Love" at the Monmouth Arts Center (now the Count Basie Theatre) in Red Bank. Gender-altered version of the Crystals’ "He’s Sure the Boy I Love."
May 9: "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" at the Harvard Square Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. The Patti LaBelle & the BlueBelles hit. This show, a double bill with Bonnie Raitt, was the one that prompted rock critic (and future Springsteen manager) Jon Landau to write, famously: "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen."
June 2: "A Night Like This" at the Toledo Agora. Original ballad, somewhat similar in flavor to "Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," never released on an album.
June 13: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, Binghamton, N.Y.