THE WRESTLER

Album version

Two, three, four

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free
If you've ever seen a one trick pony then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one legged dog makin' his way down the street
If you've ever seen a one legged dog then you've seen me

(Then you've seen me) I come and stand at every door
(Then you've seen me) I always leave with less than I had before
(Then you've seen me) bet I can make you smile when the blood it hits the floor
Tell me friend can you ask for anything more
Tell me can you ask for anything more

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and weeds
If you've ever seen that scarecrow then you've seen me
Have you ever seen a one armed man punchin' at nothing but the breeze
If you've ever seen a one armed man then you've seen me

(Then you've seen me) I come and stand at every door
(Then you've seen me) I always leave with less than I had before
(Then you've seen me) bet I can make you smile when the blood it hits the floor
Tell me friend can you ask for anything more
Tell me can you ask for anything more

These things that have comforted me I drive away (anything more)
This place that is my home I cannot stay (anything more)
My only faith is in the broken bones and bruises I display

Have you ever seen a one legged man tryin' to dance his way free
If you've ever seen a one legged man then you've seen me


Page last updated: 27 Sep 2009

Intro

Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, THE WRESTLER is the theme song for the motion picture of the same name. It plays in an acoustic arrangement over the film's closing credits. The song also gets significant play over the film's promotional trailer.

THE WRESTLER was included as a bonus track on Springsteen's 2009 album Working On A Dream.

The Film

The Wrestler is directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Mickey Rourke. Production began in January 2008 and the film debuted on 05 Sep 2008 at the 65th Venice Film Festival. It also screened on 07 Sep 2008 at the Toronto Film Festival and on 12 Oct 2008 at the closing night of the New York Film Festival. Fox Searchlight acquired rights to distribute the film in the U.S. The Wrestler was released in the U.S. in a limited capacity on 17 Dec 2008, and nationwide on 16 Jan 2009.

The Wrestler won the Golden Lion Award for Best Film at its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. The film also won two 2008 Golden Globe Awards, including "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama" (Mickey Rourke) and "Best Original Song - Motion Picture" (THE WRESTLER written and performed by Bruce Springsteen). It was also nominated for "Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Drama" Golden Globe Award (Marisa Tomei).

Springsteen and Rourke

Bruce Springsteen and Mickey Rourke met at the Stone Pony back in the eighties. They became motorcycle cruising buddies in 1989 and 1990 when Springsteen was living in Los Angeles, CA. Rourke owned a short-lived club in Los Angeles called Rubber Club, and Springsteen is known to have made two onstage appearances in that club; on 10 Mar 1989, he joined local band The Mighty Hornets for one song (CC RIDER) and, on 25 Apr 1989, he joined an unidentified local band onstage for one song - (STAND BY ME).

According to film director Darren Aronofsky, Springsteen is a huge fan of Rourke's. He's seen every movie of his and he was hoping for him to get back on track making movies. He was following him and he wanted to know about his projects, but the two "haven't been in touch during Mickey's lost years". Rourke sent Springsteen a letter and a copy of the movie script. In May 2008, Springsteen called him in the middle of the night and told him that he's in touring in Europe, and said that he "don't know if I can do this, but if I can, I'll try something."

Awards and nominations

The 14th Critics' Choice Awards ceremony was held at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, CA, on 08 Jan 2009, and was broadcast live on VH1. THE WRESTLER won a Critics' Choice Awards for Best Song. Springsteen did not attend the ceremony.

The 13th Annual Satellite Awards ceremony was held at the InterContinental Century City Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, on 14 Dec 2008. THE WRESTLER was nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Original Song.

The 66th Golden Globe Awards nominations were announced on 11 Dec 2008. The awards ceremony was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA, on 11 Jan 2009 and was telecast on NBC. THE WRESTLER won a Golden Globe award for "Best Original Song - Motion Picture". Mickey Rourke won the "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama" award. Springsteen attended the ceremony and he was presented the award statuette by Sting. In his acceptance speech, Springsteen briefly talked about how the song came to life:

"All right! This is uh... the only time I'm gonna be in competition with Clint Eastwood, I know that for sure [laughs]. Felt pretty good, too! [giggles] Anyway, Mickey called me in Ireland and he asked me for uh... some music, he told me a little bit about the character, he said some people invest themselves in their pain and they turn away from love and the things that strengthen and nurture their lives. He said this was a guy that didn't figure... hadn't figured that out. So I said, 'Well, I know a couple of those guys...' And so, the song. So... first and foremost, I'd like to thank Mickey. Without the call I wouldn't have written the song, without his inspiration. Thank you brother, for a beautiful performance, thank you. Thank you for thinking of me! Um... like to thank Darren and all the folks involved with the film for letting me be a small part of their picture, thank you. Uh... love to my strong and lovely wife Patti, and hello to Evan, Jess, and Sam at home. Happy birthday, Big Man Clarence Clemons!"

THE WRESTLER was widely expected to receive a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 81st Academy Awards. If nominated, Springsteen would have performed his song on 22 Feb 2009 on the awards show since, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Oscars broadcast features performances of best-song nominees. But in what Rolling Stone magazine described as "shocking news", it was snubbed on 22 Jan 2009 when the Academy nominated only three songs in the category rather than the usual five.

Composition

Springsteen wrote THE WRESTLER in Europe during the Magic Tour, sometime between late May and early July 2008. In July, he called Rourke and Aronofsky complimenting them on the movie and adding that he wrote a song for the film's character.

Rourke and Aronofsky went to see Springsteen in concert at Giants Stadium in late July 2008. Rourke introduced his director to Springsteen who picked up his guitar and proceeded to play his new composition. "I literally got stage fright," Aronofsky told MTV. "I never knew what stage fright was! My chin just went down, and I said in my head, 'Oh my God, I'm freezing up in front of Bruce Springsteen.'"

Aronofsky told MTV, "Then we started talking, and then he played the song, and it was amazing. And he's like, 'I don't know if it's good yet.'" Then Springsteen offered the song for free.

The song came while the movie was at the end of its editing phase. This late addition caused the movie's screening debut to take place at the end of the Venice Film Festival.

The Song

On THE WRESTLER, Springsteen handles guitar, piano, and vocals. Director Darren Aronofsky described it as "a wonderful acoustic piece; makes me choke up every time I hear it. [Springsteen] really captured the spirit of the film and Mickey [Rourke]'s character in the piece."

The song, as heard over the film's closing credits, opens and closes with a long coda, clocking at 5:25. However, the track was released in a 3:50 edited version on the Working On A Dream album.

Single release

THE WRESTLER, the album's third single, was officially released on 16 Dec 2008 at the iTunes Store, in advance of the film's US major cities openings in the subsequent days. That was the "album version" with the edited opening and closing codas. 1-track promotional CD-R's were also released, and contained the regular 3:50 album version. They often, as was the case with the Dutch version, came in a slimline jewel case with colour picture insert based on the film's poster artwork [see scan below (left)].

The song was also released, but in its unedited form, on a US-only 1-track promotional CD-R issued exclusively to Academy Award voters by film distributors Fox Searchlight Pictures for consideration in the Best Original Song category. The CD-R comes in slimline jewel case without artwork [see scan below (right)], and contains the full, unedited 5:25 version of THE WRESTLER with intact piano outro.

The single made its first national singles sales chart appearance when it entered the Swedish Singles Chart at position #25. It also charted in Norway, Finland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Canada, the UK, and the US.

Country Chart Peak position Weeks in chart Charting period
USA   124 1  
Canada   63 1  
UK   93 1  
Ireland   40 1  
Holland   56 2  
Norway   14 1  
Sweden   19 2  
Finland   26 1  

Working On A Dream

Working On A Dream is Springsteen's 24th album (and 16th studio album). It was released on 27 Jan 2009 on Columbia Records. The album was officially announced, along with its track listing, on 17 Nov 2008. The album is produced by Brendan O'Brien and was recorded with the E Street Band during breaks on their 2007-2008 Magic Tour. It was recorded and mixed at Southern Tracks in Atlanta, GA with additional recording in New York City, Los Angeles, and New Jersey.

Springsteen said about the album, "Towards the end of recording 'Magic,' excited by the return to pop production sounds, I continued writing. When my friend producer Brendan O'Brien heard the new songs, he said, 'Let's keep going.' Over the course of the next year, that's just what we did, recording with the E Street Band during the breaks on last year's tour. I hope 'Working on a Dream' has caught the energy of the band fresh off the road from some of the most exciting shows we've ever done. All the songs were written quickly, we usually used one of our first few takes, and we all had a blast making this one from beginning to end."

[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

The album features 12 new Springsteen compositions plus a bonus track and clocks at 51:08.

Working On A Dream track list:

  1. OUTLAW PETE
  2. MY LUCKY DAY
  3. WORKING ON A DREAM
  4. QUEEN OF THE SUPERMARKET
  5. WHAT LOVE CAN DO
  6. THIS LIFE
  7. GOOD EYE
  8. TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
  9. LIFE ITSELF
  10. KINGDOM OF DAYS
  11. SURPRISE SURPRISE
  12. THE LAST CARNIVAL
  13. THE WRESTLER [bonus track]

A deluxe edition of Working On A Dream features a bonus DVD that contains a 38-minute behind-the-scenes footage of the recording of the album. Produced, directed, and edited by Thom Zimny, it includes studio footage edited to the tracks of MY LUCKY DAY, QUEEN OF THE SUPERMARKET, KINGDOM OF DAYS, WORKING ON A DREAM, LIFE ITSELF, and THE LAST CARNIVAL. It also contains demos and early band versions of the songs as they were worked up. The DVD also includes video for A NIGHT WITH THE JERSEY DEVIL.

The album is also available as a vinyl record.

Music video

A music video for the song was filmed in late January 2009 in a New Brunswick, NJ boxing gym, and was released on Springsteen's social networking websites. It shows Springsteen with his hair combed back, in a ring and weightlifting, interspersed with scenes from the film. An extended version of the video was made available on iTunes, and it showed only Springsteen. Finally, a making-of-the-video video was made and released as part of the iTunes package; it contained voiceovers of Springsteen giving his interpretation of the film's main character, how that fit into his normal model of human nature, and how he tried to write the song to reflect this. The video was included as a bonus feature on the May 2009 DVD release of the film.

Live history

THE WRESTLER was played during both public rehearsal shows for the Working On A Dream Tour.

  • 23 Mar 2009 at Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ
  • 24 Mar 2009 at Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ

The tour kicked off in the U.S. on 01 Apr 2009, and THE WRESTLER was a setlist stable for the first 9 consecutive tour dates before gradually disappearing from the setlist. In late May, the tour hit Europe where the song was performed one last time. By the time this page was last updated, THE WRESTLER was played on a total of 20 of the tour's regular dates.

  • 01 Apr 2009 at HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA
  • 03 Apr 2009 at Jobing.com Arena, Glendale, AZ
  • 05 Apr 2009 at Frank Erwin Center, Austin, TX
  • 07 Apr 2009 at BOK Center, Tulsa, OK
  • 08 Apr 2009 at Toyota Center, Houston, TX
  • 10 Apr 2009 at Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
  • 15 Apr 2009 at L.A. Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA
  • 16 Apr 2009 at L.A. Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA
  • 21 Apr 2009 at TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
  • 24 Apr 2009 at XL Center, Hartford, CT
  • 26 Apr 2009 at Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
  • 28 Apr 2009 at Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
  • 04 May 2009 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
  • 05 May 2009 at John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
  • 08 May 2009 at Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA
  • 12 May 2009 at United Center, Chicago, IL
  • 18 May 2009 at Verizon Center, Washington, DC
  • 19 May 2009 at Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 21 May 2009 at Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ
  • 04 Jun 2009 at Stockholm Stadion, Stockholm, Sweden

Covers

As far as it's known, only one artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's THE WRESTLER:


Various artists -- Thunder Road: A Folk-Punk Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

Digital album - Anxiety Attack (AA-005) - USA, 2014

This is a download-only digital Bruce Springsteen tribute album. THE WRESTLER is performed by Swissknife.

Credits

Thanks Timmy Peterson (Terry at Greasy Lake), Hungries, Neil (Five Stubbs), Nebojsa Noveski, and Pauly for the help.