Unreleased song: Bruce Springsteen – The Loosin’ Kind

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The Unreleased series

Today we present one of the best of the still unreleased tracks from the Nebraska sessions, The Losin’ Kind. The song started out as The Answer an early home demo with slightly different lyrics.

The melody is reminiscent of Highway Patrolman (Nebraska) and the story is about the same as in the song Highway 29 (The Ghost of Tom Joad), and I’m guessing that these similarities will keep the song in Springsteen’s vault.

As I said the song started out as The Answer before it became The Losin’ Kind and both versions are in circulation:

The Answer (The Losin’ kind acoustic demo) was recorded in fall 1981 (sometime between September and December), at Thrill Hill Recording  in Colts Neck.

The Losin’ Kind (the “finished” version) were probably taped on 03 Jan 1982 at Thrill Hill Recording. There are records of a third version, but I’ve not heard it and I don’t think it floats around the web.

Let us hear the song.

The Losin’ Kind:

Incredibly good ! …and will hopefully be included on Tracks part 2 (if that is ever released…)

From Brucebase:

The Nebraska sessions were never conceived to result in a commercially released album. Bruce’s intention was to create a batch of multi-channel, professional sounding, finished solo demos to demonstrate to The E Street Band at sessions for the follow-up to The River album due to start in New York City in February 1982. By creating professional demos Springsteen felt the band sessions would progress faster than they had for his previous three albums.

To achieve his goal in December 1981 Springsteen asked his guitar technician, Mike Batlan, to set up a no frills “porta-studio” in a spare room of Bruce’s Colts Neck, NJ home. Some modification work was done to the room to make it more receptive to achieving a decent sound. Batlan purchased a Teac Tascam (Series 144) 4-track cassette recorder, 2 x Shure SM57 mics and 2 x mic stands. The sound was mixed through an old Gibson Echoplex and an old Panasonic boom box acted as the mix-down deck.

Springsteen recorded during the first few days of January, with the bulk of the songs recorded in one all day/night session on January 3, 1982. There were 15 songs recorded and some of them were recorded 2 or 3 times in slightly different arrangements. However two or three months later, with a few of these 15 songs by-then earmarked for coverage by the E Street Band, Springsteen recorded 2 additional songs (“My Father’s House” and “The Big Payback”) at home on the same equipment – thus making a total of 17 different songs…


The Losin’ Kind, Lyrics:
My name is Frank Davis, driver Dixie 109
I was out on Highway 17, just south of the Camden Line
It was down there in the heart of Wilsonville where I met my fate
She was standing outside the bar room said she was waiting for a date
But I knew that that was just a line
And I knew I was messin’ with a losin’ kind

Well I knew what we were both doin’ and I knew that you can’t win
But when the light turned green, I reached across the seat, popped the lock and she slid in
She said she liked Mexican music, she knew a place if I had the time
Well we had a few drinks and we danced a while, I pulled her close, she didn’t mind
And what I knew kinda slipped my mind
And I couldn’t resist her messin’ with the losin’ kind

Well we drove around in my Buick, getting drunk and having fun
Well we ended up at this Best Western out on Highway 101
It was around 3 A.M. we went out to this empty little roadside bar
It was there the cash register was open, it was there I hit that guy too hard
But I knew when I hit him for the second time
That one attracts the other when you’re the losin’ kind

Well I grabbed her hand to get out of there and I felt like I was gonna be sick
And half hour later the sleet started coming down and that highway got pretty slick
I seen some lights in my rearview mirror, I guess I panicked and I gave her a gun
Well then I wrapped us around a telephone pole south on Highway 101
Well she just stumbled out onto the bank and sat down in a pout
Well I kicked out the driver side window but buddy when I got out
Well all I had to greet me was a highway patrolman’s .45
He looked at the wreck and then he said “Son you’re lucky to be alive”
Well sir I’ll think that one over if you don’t mind
Now luck ain’t much good to you when it’s the losin’ kind

Let us hear it in its initial form as The Answer:

..and as I said acoustic and with different lyrics, The Answer:

I grabbed her hand to get out of there, I felt like I was gonna be sick
Half hour later the snow started coming down, that highway got pretty slick
I seen some lights in my rearview mirror, so I panicked and I gave her a gun
I wrapped us around a telephone pole out on Highway One
She stumbled out onto the bank and sat there in a pout
Took ’em an hour and a chainsaw just to get me out
Then they threw me on a stretcher and we made that hospital run
All I remember is a trooper saying “what did you think you were doin’ son?”
And the answer I couldn’t find
So I just laid back and listened to the siren whine

Na yes, na na, na na na na
Na na na, na na na na na

(here there’s a pause, the tape stops and is resumed)

We ended.. we end up in this Best Western… we rode around in my Buick getting drunk and having fun
We ended up in this Best Western out on Highway One
3 A.M. we went out to this little roadside bar
It was there the cash register was open, it was there I hit that guy too hard
But I knew when I hit him for the second time
One attracts the other when you’re running the losin’ kind

I grabbed her hand to get out of there, I felt kinda sick
Half hour later the snow started coming down, that highway got pretty slick
I seen some lights in my rearview mirror, I panicked and I gave her a run
Wrapped us around a telephone pole out on Highway 101
She stumbled out onto the bank and sat there in a pout
Trapped the driver side window, buddy when I got out
All I had to greet me was a state trooper’s gun
He just looked straight at me and said “What do you think you’re doin’ son?”
Well the answer I couldn’t find
She just started laughin’, and I hung my head and cried

Yes, na na yes na na na
Na na yes, la la la la la

Fantastic stuff!

Both songs/versions are available on several bootlegs.

– Hallgeir

Sources: Brucebase, Springsteenlyrics, Heart of Darkness – Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska by David Burke (a great read!)