Dear Bruce Springsteen:
I know you’re not exactly starved for material for your upcoming “Springsteen on Broadway” shows. You will probably stick mainly, or totally, to your own well-known songs. And nobody’s going to complain.
But please, consider singing a Broadway song or two as well, as a show of respect and admiration for the great songwriting traditions of the musical theater.
It’s something you really haven’t done previously— your one-off cover of “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ “ doesn’t really count. And, frankly, what better setting could you have for it?
If not now, when?
I know there is a vast catalog of musical theater songs to choose from, so here are some suggestions of songs that may suit you. (The dates refer to the original Broadway or off-Broadway productions of the musicals the songs come from.)
“Someone to Watch Over Me” (1926), written by George and Ira Gershwin for “Oh, Kay!” This yearning ballad has become a pop standard. Here is your friend Sting’s excellent version.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone” (1945), written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for “Carousel.” You’re a big Elvis Presley fan. So why not have two tributes for the price of one by doing this song, which originated on Broadway decades before Elvis started doing it.
“There Is Nothing Like a Dame” (1949), written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for “South Pacific.” The clip here is from the 1958 movie. There’s got to be some comic relief in the show. Why not this?
“Cool” (1957), written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for “West Side Story.” The clip here is from the 1961 movie. You could even ask audience members to snap their fingers as you sing. How cool would that be?
“Some People” (1959), written by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim for “Gypsy.” Sung here by Liza Minnelli in 1991. Not really that different, in theme, from your aspirational ’70s anthems such as “Rosalita” and “Badlands.”
“A Lot of Livin’ to Do” (1960), written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams for “Bye Bye Birdie.” Later covered by many pop singers, including Sammy Davis Jr.
“Where Do I Go?” (1967), written by Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado for “Hair.” A little melodramatic for your sensibilities, maybe, but I’m confident you could make it work.
“Heaven on Their Minds” (1971), written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Sung here by Murray Head on the 1970 concept album that preceded the first production of the musical. Religion has often worked itself into your songs, in many different ways, though I realize you might not want to step into Judas’s shoes in order to sing this one.
“Midnight Radio” (1998), written by Stephen Trask for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” A David Bowie-esque power ballad from a musical about a rock singer. This clip is from the 2001 movie.
“Totally Fucked” (2006), written by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater for “Spring Awakening.” Like “Midnight Radio,” this is less of a stretch, musically, than some of the older songs above. Lyrically … I realize you might not want to go there.