In the 1970s, Bruce Springsteen emerged as the voice of the American everyman, singing songs about working-class life, pioneering a genre known as heartland rock. Following his commercially unsuccessful debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., Springsteen found better luck with 1975’s Born to Run, scoring him a number three slot on the Billboard 200.
Since then, Springsteen has become one of the most successful artists in American music, attracting masses of fans to his lengthy concerts just to catch a glimpse of ‘The Boss’ in action. Besides playing his own material at live shows, Springsteen often plays covers of other artists he admires, even releasing a whole covers album, Only the Strong Survive, in 2022.
Springsteen greatly admired Frank Sinatra, even inducting him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. The musician decided to cover ‘Angel Eyes’ in honour of Sinatra, a song composed by Matt Dennis, which the iconic crooner sang in 1958. However, it’s another one of Sinatra’s songs which Springsteen referred to as the one track he’d be happy to listen to for the rest of his life. Speaking to Stephen Colbert, Springsteen revealed that ‘Summer Wind’ would be his pick, which was recorded by Sinatra in 1966, appearing on his album, Strangers in the Night.
The track was initially written in German under the title ‘Der Sommerwind’, written by Heinz Meier with lyrics by Hans Bradtke. After Johnny Mercer transformed the song into English, it was first recorded by Wayne Newton. Eventually, other singers took a crack at the song, although Sinatra’s version remains a favourite for many, such as Springsteen.
Springsteen paid tribute to Sinatra’s legacy in his induction speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He shared, “My first recollection of Frank’s voice was coming out of a jukebox, it was in a dark bar on a Sunday afternoon when my mother and I went in searching for my father, and she said, ‘Listen to that… that’s Frank Sinatra, he’s from New Jersey.’”
“It was a voice filled with bad attitude, life, beauty, excitement, nasty sense of freedom, sex and a sad knowledge of the ways of the world.” He added, “It was the deep blueness of Frank’s voice that affected me the most, and while his music became synonymous with black tie, good life, the best booze, women, sophistication, his blues voice was always a sound of hard luck, and men late at night with the last ten dollars in their pockets trying to figure a way out.”