Well, it seems like I’ve been playing your game way too long
And it seems the game I’ve played has made you strong
But when the game is over, I won’t walk out the loser
And I know that I’ll walk out of here again
And I know someday I’ll walk out of here again
But now, I’m
Jimmy Cliff, who did this song first, has been around for a long time and has a lot of albums. And Bruce has been covering it since the late ’70’s or early ’80’s. But I’m not 100% sure when this song first came out. Cliff has it on an album called Images from 1990 so that’s the picture up above.
So, first stop, Jimmy Cliff. His version’s music is upbeat, almost lilting in comparison to the lyrics. I’ve always loved Bruce’s version but the more I listen to this the more I like it:
As mentioned, Bruce did this “live” way back when and it went into fairly regular rotation on FM radio. It was long sought-after by Bruce fans but hadn’t been officially released. It wasn’t until a few years later when the We are the World album came out that you could actually buy it.
It’s also on a later compilation called The Essential Bruce Springsteen. Every place you read the Cliff original refers to it as ‘obscure’ so I don’t know how the hell Bruce first heard it. But just about everybody thinks he wrote it.
I love the way it builds then gets really quiet again. There’s a woman singing a nice high part. It could be Patti Scialfa but I think the original version predates her membership in the band.
I forget where I first became aware of these next guys but it was hearing them do this number that inspired this particular post. Their name is the Jakoostik Music Ensemble and they are from Kingston, Jamaica. Don’t know much more about them other than what their web site says. But I like the three-guitar approach. It’s funny that they decided to do Springsteen’s cover version rather than Cliff’s original.
NOTE: this video was apparently filmed informally in New York. So periodically someone wanders in front of the camera. Cinema verite?: