DON'T LOOK BACK

Official studio version


One, two, three, four!

Cold rain runnin' down the front of my shirt
I'm flat on my back, wheels in the dirt
Angel makes her face up out on Baker Street
She's straddling the shifter in my front seat
There's nothing to lose, it's a heartbreak, the deck's stacked
So put your foot to the floor and darlin' don't look back

We're makin' night tracks through the blazin' rain
Blowin' pistons workin' the fast lane
Red line burnin', pocket's full of cash
Angel writes her name in lipstick on my dash
There's nothing to lose, it's a bad break but baby we're backed
Tonight we'll blow off their doors and honey we won't look back

We held it in our hearts in the pourin' rain
We made it through the heart of a hurricane
We tore it apart and put it together again
Whoa whoa
Whoa whoa whoaaa

Well angel, won't you believe in love for me
Come on and meet me tonight, darling, out in the street
We'll move with the city in the dark
You gotta walk it, talk it, in your heart
There's nothing to lose, it's a heartache, the deck's stacked
So put your foot to the floor, darlin'
Tonight we'll blow off their doors, baby
We're gonna even the score, and honey we won't look back

Whoa whoa whoa
Whoa whoa whoa
Ah don't look back
Ah baby don't look back, ah
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
Ah baby don't look back
No no no no no
Ah baby don't look
Don't look, don't look
Don't look, don't look
Don't look, don't look
Don't look, don't look
Don't look, don't look
Don't look, don't look
Don't look, don't look
Don't look, don't look
Back


A Darkness On The edge Of Town outtake that was reportedly included on the album until the last minute when it was replaced by the title track, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN. Though it was performed live before (March 1977 - read below), the song was first recorded in June 1977 when the Darkness On The edge Of Town sessions kicked off at Atlantic Studios, New York City, NY. According to Dave Marsh, "the first evening [of the album's recording sessions] was spent spent laying down demos of about twenty songs Bruce had written and more or less completed during the lawsuit." He writes that among these songs was "the screaming rocker, 'Don't Look Back'."

Four studio takes are now in circulation: 2 different instrumental takes (or backing tracks better said), another take with rough Springsteen vocal, and a complete take that was officially released for the first time in November 1998 on the Tracks box set.

Instrumental take #1 was released on The Lost Masters Vol. 2 (Labour Of Love Records) bootleg, and was recorded in June 1977 at Atlantic Studios, New York City, NY. Instrumental take #2 was released on The Promise (Scorpio Records) and The Definitive Darkness Outtakes Collection (E Street Records) bootlegs, and was also recorded in June 1977 at Atlantic Studios, New York City, NY.

The outtake with rough Springsteen vocal was released on The Promise (Scorpio Records) bootleg, and was also recorded in June 1977 at Atlantic Studios, New York City, NY.

The official take was recorded on 02 Jul 1977 at the Record Plant, New York City, NY, and has previously been released on several bootlegs, including The Definitive Darkness Outtakes Collection (E Street Records) and The Original Darkness Mixes (E Street Records). According to Brucebase, the 01 Mar 1978 recording date often cited was actually the final mix date of the track.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Definitive Darkness Outtakes Collection (E Street Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Definitive Darkness Outtakes Collection (E Street Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Original Darkness Mixes (E Street Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Original Darkness Mixes (E Street Records)

The above lyrics are for the official studio take that was released on the Tracks box set.

The count-in "One, two, three, four!" at the beginning of the song can be heard on the bootleg releases, but is edited out on the official one.

The song appeared live for the first time during the 2nd leg of the 1977 "Lawsuit Tour". The song's debut was on 10 Mar 1977 at The Sports Arena, Toledo, OH, when it became the second number on the setlist for each of the remaining dates of the tour, making a total of 12 appearances (out of the 33 shows of the tour):

  1. 10 Mar 1977 - Sports Arena, Toledo, OH
  2. 11 Mar 1977 - Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA
  3. 13 Mar 1977 - Towson State University, Baltimore, MD
  4. 14 Mar 1977 - Mid-Hudson Civic Centre, Poughkeepsie, NY
  5. 15 Mar 1977 - Community Arena, Binghamton, NY
  6. 18 Mar 1977 - Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, CT
  7. 19 Mar 1977 - Central Maine Youth Center, Lewiston, ME
  8. 20 Mar 1977 - Providence College, Providence, RI
  9. 22 Mar 1977 - Music Hall, Boston, MA
  10. 23 Mar 1977 - Music Hall, Boston, MA
  11. 24 Mar 1977 - Music Hall, Boston, MA
  12. 25 Mar 1977 - Music Hall, Boston, MA

It should be noted that we don't have complete setlist info for the 20 Mar 1977 show at Providence College, Providence, RI. However, it is most likely that DON'T LOOK BACK was performed since the remainder of the 12 shows opened with the trio NIGHT - DON'T LOOK BACK - SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT.

It should also be noted that the song was sound-checked earlier in the tour, on 08 Feb 1977 at Auditorium Theatre, Rochester, NY, but was not performed during the show. An audience tape of the sound-check is in circulation.

Through these 12 live performances, the song's lyrics were changing dramatically, from the live 10 Mar 1977 version, which is very different from the studio versions, to the live 25 Mar 1977 version, which is almost identical to the studio versions (the outtake version in particular). And since it was sound-checked on 08 Feb 1977, this might indicate that the song was written around January 1977 but was revised and rewritten through March 1977. For comparison, see each of the March 1977 live versions.

DON'T LOOK BACK was forgotten for more than two decades, and saw the light again when it was officially released in Nov 1998 on the Tracks box set. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band embarked on The Reunion Tour in Apr 1999, and the song was performed live again, making a total of 16 appearances during that tour:

  1. 07 Aug 1999 - Continental Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
  2. 24 Aug 1999 - Fleet Center, Boston, MA
  3. 09 Sep 1999 - Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
  4. 15 Sep 1999 - First Union center, Philadelphia, PA
  5. 28 Sep 1999 - United Center, Chicago, IL
  6. 21 Oct 1999 - Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
  7. 15 Nov 1999 - GUND Arena, Cleveland, OH
  8. 09 Mar 2000 - NCR Center, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  9. 15 Apr 2000 - Freedom Hall, Louisville, KY
  10. 04 May 2000 - Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
  11. 07 May 2000 - Civic Center, Hartford, CT
  12. 21 May 2000 - Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, CA
  13. 29 May 2000 - Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT
  14. 03 Jun 2000 - Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
  15. 22 Jun 2000 - Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
  16. 29 Jun 2000 - Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
  • On The Reunion Tour, the song was always performed as show opener or 2nd on the setlist.
  • The song was reported to have been sound-checked earlier in the tour, on 19 Apr 1999 at the Forum, Milan, Italy, and on 19 Jun 1999 at Gelredome, Arnhem, Holland, but wasn't performed during the show until 07 Aug 1999.
  • The live 29 Jun 2000 version of the song was released on Live In New York City in 2001.

DON'T LOOK BACK was covered by The Knack who first released it on their 1992 album, Retrospective. Their version was also released on several other Knack releases and Bruce Springsteen tribute albums. See The Knack's version for more details.

Available Versions

List of available versions of DON'T LOOK BACK on this website:

DON'T LOOK BACK [Official studio version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Instrumental take #1]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Instrumental take #2]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Outtake version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 10 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 11 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 13 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 14 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 19 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 22 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 23 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 24 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 25 Mar 1977 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [Live 29 Jun 2000 version]
DON'T LOOK BACK [The Knack's Cover version]

Page last updated: 02 Sep 2007