This is so great. Bruce Springsteen’s teenage combo, the Castilles, recorded live in 1967 playing "Suzanne"! And what a great version! It’s raw but the band is great, and Bruce really nails it vocally...and he’s only 18!
Cohen didn’t release his own version until the very end of ’67 – when his debut album came out – so we’re figuring Bruce and the boys learned it from Judy Collins’ version, which came out in 1966.
A bit of online research would suggest this was recorded 16 September 1967 at a club called The Left Foot in the band’s hometown of Freehold, NJ. Either way, they’ve worked up their own great arrangement, very much in a Bob Dylan & The Band style. And is that a Velvet Underground influence in the guitar at the end? The guys were venturing into Greenwich Village by this time, and, as reflected in the photos below taken at the Café Wha?, so the development in their sound at this point is perhaps not unexpected, but it’s still no less than a real treat to hear!
In case you didn’t know, the Castilles have recently seen the first official release ever of their music, with two tracks from 1967 kicking off the new Bruce Chapter & Verse collection. They’re great tracks – raw but energetic - and they reveal Bruce’s original immersion in the roots that would often reappear in the countless covers he has performed, and even in much of his original material over the years. Hopefully we might get to hear "Suzanne" cleaned up a bit and included on Chapter & Verse Vol 2 if such a thing happens.
In the meantime, play "Suzanne" loud and enjoy!!
For more on the Castilles and Bruce’s early days, check out https://www.castiles.net/