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The Late Movies: Dancing in the Dark

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"Dancing in the Dark" was a huge hit for Bruce Springsteen in 1984. Its music video, directed by Brian DePalma, featured a young Courteney Cox -- in a live performances of the song, the video showed Springsteen inviting Cox onstage for a quick dance. This pattern repeated in virtually all future performances of the song, with female fans being brought onstage during the sax solo (and yeah, you know the "Dancing in the Dark" dance -- don't pretend you don't). Twenty-five years after the iconic video premiered, Springsteen brought his mom onstage for the dance, and we can presume she's his biggest fan.

Although most people assume "Dancing in the Dark" is a simple love song (based on its uptempo performance and famous video), the song was actually borne out of frustration over the business of writing an album. Springsteen's manager/producer Jon Landau felt that the Born in the USA album was incomplete, because it didn't include a clear hit song. Indeed, although "Born in the USA," "Glory Days," and "I'm on Fire" ended up being successful songs, "Dancing in the Dark" was a major chart success and won Springsteen a Grammy. Anyway, Landau and Springsteen argued over the issue, and Springsteen relented, writing "Dancing in the Dark" as the final song for the album. Here are some sample lyrics, apparently describing Springsteen's mood as he penned Landau's requested "hit":

I get up in the evening, and I ain't got nothing to say.
I come home in the morning, I go to bed feeling the same way.
I ain't nothing but tired, man I'm just tired and bored with myself.
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help ...

Messages keep gettin' clearer, radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place.
I check my look in the mirror: wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face!
Man I ain't gettin' nowhere, just livin' in a dump like this.
There's something happening somewhere. Baby, I just know that there is...

You sit around getting older; there's a joke here somewhere and it's on me.
I'll shake this world off my shoulders; come on baby, the laugh's on me.
Stay on the streets of this town and they'll be carving you up all right.
They say you gotta stay hungry? Hey baby, I'm just about starving tonight!
I'm dying for some action. I'm sick of sitting around here trying to write
this book.
I need a love reaction. Come on baby, gimme just one look.

Sounds like a classic frustrated writer to me. "Sitting around here trying to write this book" indeed! Below, I've collected some of my favorite versions of this classic song. Enjoy, and post your favorites in the comments.

Amy MacDonald (2009)

If you haven't heard of Amy MacDonald, you're missing out. In this version, she has changed at least her hair, if not her clothes and face. (Incidentally, here's Springsteen performing at the same concert, though the video quality is awful. "Dancing in the Dark" starts around 1:57.)

Tegan and Sara (2005)

This is a nice acoustic version; also worth checking out: this version with Matt Sharp of Weezer (including extensive intro) and this rockin' live version.

Ted Leo (2007)

Live, solo, at Bumbershoot in Seattle. Hardcore. See also: this slightly muffled version.

The Shadows (1986)

Now this is the 80's I remember.

Big Daddy (1985)

Complete with "Moody River" piano, this is effectively a 50's ballad style rewrite of the song.

Mat Kearney (2008?)

See also this live version, a bit more uptempo.

Naked Brothers Band (2000-something)

It gets surprisingly rocky, though they're not entirely credible singing about aging just yet.

Uni (2008)

Live in Finland.

Arcade Fire (Date Unknown)

Incomplete video, sort of a half-medley with "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Wow.

Bruce Springsteen (1984), Original Video

Compare this to the following live performance video.

Bruce Springsteen (1984)

Live in Toronto. Awesome.

Post Your Favorites

Got a favorite "Dancing in the Dark" or other Springsteen cover? Post a link in the comments! See also, yesterday's Late Movies: The Late Movies: Happy Birthday, Clarence Clemons! (Clemons is the sax player in The E Street Band.) Apparently it's turning into Springsteen Week here.

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Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
7 Places To Grab a Bite of Elvis
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Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

August 16, 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, reportedly from hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with atherosclerotic heart disease. Just 42 years old at the time of his passing, the King of Rock 'n' Roll had a reputation for loving rich, decadent food as much as he loved music, with the infamous fried peanut butter and banana sandwich being one of his favorite delicacies.

While we can’t recommend them as part of your daily diet, there are Elvis-inspired indulgences to be found at eateries across the country. If you’re ever in the mood for a taste of Elvis, here’s where to go.


With roots stretching back well over half a century, Forth Worth's T&P Tavern used to be a rail station stopover for notables including Elvis Presley himself. To honor their history, the bar offers the Elvis—a martini flavored with peanut butter, banana, and bacon.


Brian Brown

There’s decadent, and then there’s Las Vegas. To match the city’s reputation for excess, Mr. Lucky’s—the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's 24-hour diner—can reinvigorate patrons pulling all-nighters with the King. It’s an enormous plate of 14 banana pancakes served with Nutella, whipped cream, powdered sugar, and 14 slices of bacon. Before ordering, don't forget to tell your family you love them.


In 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama paid a visit to Johnny J's while on the campaign trail.

Johnny J’s specializes in burgers named after influential rock stars, including Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, and, of course, Elvis Presley. With the Elvis, patrons can expect a slab of beef topped with red chili and melted cheddar jack cheese, served open faced—without a single banana in sight.


This reworked early 20th-century pharmacy underwent renovations for reopening in 2010. Like any proper soda fountain, they're all about sundaes and milkshakes—including The Elvis, a vanilla ice cream topped with peanut butter, banana, and candied bacon.



The Memphis Mojo Cafe and food truck are go-to spots for burgers, but it’s their dessert that will send Elvis fanatics into a sugar frenzy. Their Elvis Dippers are Nutter Butter cookies dipped in maple waffle batter, deep-fried, and dunked in butterscotch banana cream.


The menu at OatMeals offers something for everyone, even if that someone is into Sriracha-covered oatmeal. But the standout might be The Elvis, a bowl of oats topped with peanut butter, banana, bacon, and sea salt.


Marlowe's Ribs & Restaurant

Just a few minutes from Graceland, it’s almost a prerequisite that Marlowe’s Ribs & Restaurant would have a surplus of Elvis-inspired items on their menu—and they don’t disappoint. Among their specialties: the Elvis Burger, which comes topped with bacon, smoked ham, and American cheese. For dessert, the Crispy Creme Banana Foster Sundae—a donut with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter sauce, sauteed bananas, and whipped cream—is a modern take on some of the King's favorite treats.

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Pop Culture
Prince Is Getting His Own Pantone Color: Love Symbol #2
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Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Prince was music royalty, so it only makes sense that purple—the hue traditionally favored by monarchs—was his signature color. To memorialize the late singer/songwriter, who died in April 2016, the Pantone Color Institute and the Prince Estate have collaborated on a custom shade of dark purple to represent the High Priest of Pop.


Called Love Symbol #2, "the color was inspired by Prince’s custom-made Yamaha piano, which was originally scheduled to go on tour with the performer before his untimely passing at the age of 57," Pantone stated in a press release. "The color pays tribute to Prince’s indelible mark on music, art, fashion, and culture."

Thanks to the 1984 film Purple Rain and its Oscar-winning music, Prince has long been associated with royal hue. Now, “while the spectrum of the color purple will still be used in respect to the 'Purple One,' Love Symbol #2 will be the official color across the brand he left behind,” according to Pantone.

We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the Funky One’s flamboyant legacy.


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