BALBOA VS THE EARTH SLAYER is an unpublished Bruce Springsteen song from the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. period (April 1972 to February 1973).
Down Thunder Road: The Making Of Bruce Springsteen, a 1992 book written by Marc Eliot with the cooperation of Springsteen's former producer/manager Mike Appel, rates BALBOA VS THE EARTH SLAYER as one of Bruce's finest of the period and describes it as having an anti-war theme. The song was written around Aug-Sep 1972. It is not clear if it has ever been recorded, but it may have been performed live at some 1972 shows. It is also rumoured that it was played in 1972 or 1973 at benefits held to oppose nuclear energy and promote a nuclear freeze. In 2010, a Springsteen fan asked Appel if it's likely that we'd ever hear the song. He answered something along the lines of maybe one day we'll hear it, but knowing Bruce it could be next year or in 20 years.
Before Bruce Springsteen's debut album has even been released, Springsteen's now former manager and producer Mike Apple hyped the National Football League (NFL) trying to get his client booked to perform the song BALBOA VS THE EARTH SLAYER at the 14 Jan 1973 Super Bowl VII at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Appel suggested to the NBC producer in charge of the NFL Super Bowl festivities that Springsteen should open with BALBOA VS THE EARTH SLAYER first and then do the national anthem. Appel's plan was immediately and predictably rejected and nothing came of it. Singer Andy Williams accompanied by the Little Angels of Chicago's Angels Church from Chicago opened the game with the national anthem and Springsteen ended up that day opening for David Bromberg at Paul's Mall in Boston, MA.
Appel was criticized for his bold move. In Down Thunder Road: The Making Of Bruce Springsteen, Appel explained: "I kept on doing whatever I thought would help. Now, I've been taken to task by some critics for blowing my top when NBC refused to let Bruce sing an 'antiwar song' at the '73 Super Bowl and carrying on like an idiot, threatening the TV executives and whatever. The real story, as usual, is so much simpler. First of all, contrary to popular belief, I didn't want them to replace 'The Star-Spangled Banner' with Bruce's 'Balboa vs. The Earth Slayer.' What I actually suggested was that Bruce sings 'Balboa' before the national anthem, because it was a great combatant song. I was so in love with that song that I figured I'd just make the call and try it. Let's remember how I got Bruce on CBS in the first place. So I failed here. So what? The same strategy worked beautifully a couple of years later when I managed to get Bruce on the covers of Time and Newsweek the same week."
Bruce Springsteen often creates song titles first and then attempts to write words and music around it, so the existence of a song title is no guarantee that a song was ever created. From the early 1972 to early 1975 period, there are many titles garnered from completed lyric sheets, partially completed lyric sheets, or documents in Springsteen's handwriting containing song titles but no lyrics. There is as yet no evidence that these were completed songs (both words and music) and no evidence that they were recorded during any of the first three albums' studio sessions. If they do exist as recordings, then they would most likely be either as work-in-progress home cassette recordings or from the little known about 1974 sessions at 914 Sound Studios in New York.
Most of these titles came to light in the second edition (1992) of Charles R. Cross book Backstreets: Springsteen, The Man And His Music. Very few were mentioned in the first edition (1989), but the second edition was more accurate and more detailed of the two versions of Cross's book. The primary reason for the flood of new and previously undocumented information in the second edition book is that soon after the first edition was published, Cross was granted quality interview and research time with Mike Appel at Appel's office. And as part of that, he was allowed to go through Appel's files of surviving Laurel Canyon-related documentation, which included inventory lists and some lists of song titles. At the time, Appel did not have any transcription/lyric sheets (or photocopies of them) in his possession because they had been handed over to Springsteen as part of terms and conditions of the 1977 legal settlement.
There was also an untitled list of about a dozen titles in Appel's files dated to spring 1975. Cross included them in his book as song titles, but it was later confirmed through Appel that this list was not of song titles, but rather potential album titles for the work-in-progress 3rd album and not song titles.
In an interview with Mark Hagen published on Mojo magazine in January 1999, Springsteen implied that the only unreleased song from the Born To Run sessions that is complete and in release-quality and not included on the Tracks box set was WALKING IN THE STREET. This means that it is highly unlikely that any of the titles from late 1973 to early 1975 was recorded in a complete form and is ready for release.
List of unknown songs from April 1972 to February 1973: (the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. period)
List of unknown songs from fall 1972 to fall 1973: (the The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle period)
List of unknown songs from late 1973 to early 1975: (the Born To Run period)
Thanks FFDan, HazyDavy (roulette909 at BTX), Sal's Grocery (at Greasy Lake), and Peter (at Lost In The Flood).
Some of the above info is taken from Brucebase.
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List of available versions of BALBOA VS THE EARTH SLAYER on this website:BALBOA VS THE EARTH SLAYER