Most Bruce Springsteen fans do not have a tremendous amount of affection for his 1992 Human Touch album, but I believe there are some very solid songs on it, including the bluesy “Cross My Heart.”
This is a song you have to be patient with. Springsteen is very reserved for the first minute and 40 seconds, but then unleashes a gritty guitar solo. When he starts singing again at the 2:10 mark, he is in full soul-shouting mode. And though he soon calms down again, he’s got a rather disquieting final message: “Life ain’t nothing but a cold hard ride/I ain’t leaving till I’m satisfied.”
It’s a hypnotic track: Far from Springsteen’s greatest accomplishment, of course, but a good example of his ability to build tension, and then release it. And you’ve got to love anything that illustrates his connection to the blues in such a clear-cut way.
“Cross My Heart” is a rare Springsteen co-write, with legendary bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson (who died in 1965) receiving credit. Williamson wrote and recorded a song of the same name decades earlier; they’re very different songs, but Springsteen does borrow a few lines, so I guess the credit was necessary. You can decide for yourself by listening to both, below.
Background facts: “Cross My Heart” is from Springsteen’s 1992 Human Touch album and features Roy Bittan on keyboards, Randy Jackson (yes, the “American Idol” guy) on bass, and Jeff Porcaro (best known as a co-founder of Toto) on drums.
According to Brucebase, it has only been performed twice in concert — both times in 1992. The first live performance was with Springsteen’s entire 1992-1993 touring band; the second was a stripped-down, acoustic version. You can listen to the acoustic version, performed at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., below.
On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence, though, depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of $10, or any other amount, to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJ Arts Daily to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.