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Review Prove It All Night, Bruce Springsteen

Aggiornato il 8 Apr, 2024 | Words and Music |

Prove It All Night is the ninth track on Bruce Springsteen’s fourth album, Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978). To confirm the perfect specularity of the album, as Candy’s Room, the song in the same position in the first side of the LP, Prove It All Night gives voice to a young man who seeks shelter from the harshness of life in the relationship with a girl. He promises the girl love and asks for trust in return. This lightness seems to be confirmed by the musical choices: a pop-rock song, apparently more light-hearted than the crudeness in the rest of the album. Lightness, however, was abandoned live, when Springsteen turned Prove It All Night into an intense rock song, with more powerful sounds and especially some of the longest guitar solos of his career. Every Springsteen fan, when thinking about Bruce as a guitarist, can not but think about his long guitar performances on this song.


Night returns as a moment of realization of life. As in the song Night, from Born To Run, here too there is a worker who struggles to work from Monday to Friday, in order to avoid taking the wrong paths, and who in the night seeks a relief and a solution for his life. But, while in Night the protagonist looks for the cleanest side of the night, in response to the most optimistic vision of Born To Run, in Prove It All Night the young man instigates the girl to discover the dirtiest side of the night, the darkest one that leads to find “what it means to steal, to cheat, to lie, what’s like to live and die“. And even on this night, in pursuit of a dream of life, a price appears to be paid.

From the bedroom to the street

From this point of view Prove It All Night is tied perfectly with Candy’s Room. In fact, also in this song there is a young couple who seek refuge in the night to escape the difficulties of life. Even in Candy’s Room life is not a dream. Candy is a girl with several men, probably a young prostitute, but the boy wants to compete with much more wealthy men to have her all to himself. There are also differences between the two songs. Two are substantial. In Prove It All Night the setting is outdoor, the street. In Candy’s Room, instead, everything happens within the walls of Candy’s bedroom. Also, in the first is the male protagonist to represent the intriguing and seductive part of the couple, while in the second is Candy to bring the boy to “hidden worlds“.

The twin songs

Another song written by Springsteen at that time is closely related to Prove It All Night, almost representing its twin song: Because The Night. Both are set in the night, both feature a couple of lovers. In both the protagonists find refuge in love and in the wee wee hours, protecting themselves from a world that hurts (in Because The Night the verse “they can’t hurt us now, because the night belongs to lovers” is repeated). The analogies between the two songs also lead to the musical aspect, with very similar chord sequences. Because The Night was composed about the same time as the songs from Darkness On The Edge Of Town, but Springsteen gave up on it, probably because it was thematically distant from the tenor of the album. Because The Night is definitely a romantic love song, which in the shape of an eternal pop-rock melody, expresses the pure desire for love, without a need to escape or reach a darker margin. And so, partially rewritten and rearranged by Patti Smith, the song became the absolute hit that the whole world knows. Prove It All Night, instead, is somehow darker and for this reason was chosen in the album tracklist.

Love gifts

In order to complete the parallels between songs of the same period, some similarities emerge with the coeval Drive All Night, written then but published only in the next album The River. The parallel takes shape not only for the presence of the word night in the title and for the theme of a couple traveling in the night, but also for another detail. In both songs the boy proposes to the girl to move with her during the night to give her something as a sign of his love. In Drive All Night it is a pair of shoes, in Prove It All Night a gold ring and a blue dress. Even if Drive All Night seems much more romantic, in both songs there is the will to seal something with a kiss, a hug and a tender gift.

From lightness to hardness

Prove It All Night is perhaps one of the most striking examples of transformation from the studio to the live version. It’s not for chord changes: the song remains the same. But the studio version, while providing an electric guitar solo (in addition to the saxophone one), is a song with a light sound, in contrast to the heavier load of the rest of the album. The rhythm remains light and the piano and organ create the harmony. In the live versions not only bass and drums increase intensity, not only Roy Bittan’s piano becomes more jazzy and somehow mysterious, but above all Springsteen’s electric guitar becomes dominant, with more distorted sound and with solos that, placed at the beginning of the song and inside it, became some of the most epic moments of Bruce’s guitar career.

The guitar hero

It is by listening to Prove It All Night live that we can realize how Springsteen was also an excellent guitarist and how much more he could have stood in the group of major rock guitar legends if he had concentrated his composition and his performances more on the guitar than on lyric writing. A choice that I personally do not regret as I really love Springsteen as a songwriter, but a more instrumental line would have given prominence to Bruce as a great virtuoso of the six strings. The fact remains that the powerful live versions have led Prove It All Night to be among the most played in his concerts (to date it is the 14th more played song live). If we consider the full band tours, it was not played only in the Tunnel Of Love Express Tour.


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Next Review: Darkness On The Edge Of Town – 22 April 2024


Dario Migliorini


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