Almost 20 years after he wrote the song for a “Harry Potter” movie, Bruce Springsteen has finally found a home for his unreleased ballad “I’ll Stand by You Always.” The song has been added to the end credits of “Blinded by the Light,” an upcoming, Springsteen-heavy New Line/Warner Bros. film from “Bend It Like Beckham” director Gurinder Chadha.
The song did not appear in “Blinded by the Light” when the film screened at Sundance in January, where its $15 million deal with New Line was the festival’s biggest. But it was added before this week’s screenings in Los Angeles and at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, and will now follow the song “Born to Run” during the end credits.
“Blinded by the Light” is based on the memoir “Greetings From Bury Park” by Sarfraz Manzoor, who was born in Pakistan but came to Great Britain as a child. Manzoor wrote about his teenage years in a small British town where his desire to become a writer was inflamed by a passion for Springsteen’s songs.
Springsteen read and liked Manzoor’s book and gave his approval to the film version, which makes liberal use of 15 of his songs.
“I’ll Stand by You Always,” a tender song of devotion, was reportedly written between 1998 and 2000. It is sung from the point of view of a man whose child comes to him crying in the night, with lines that include “I wish I could tell a story/Chase away all the ghosts you’ve got inside of you … Come take my hand ’til morning comes/Just close your eyes/I’ll stand by you always.”
Springsteen’s version of the song was recorded in 2001 and offered to “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” director Chris Columbus during post-production on the first Potter movie.
But according to reports at the time, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling had a stipulation in her contract that no commercial songs could be used in the films, so the song was turned down. The recording was filed with the U.S. Copyright Office in June 2001 and included on a promotional recording given only to Columbia Records executives later in the year.
“It was pretty good,” said Springsteen when asked about the song by BBC Radio 2 in 2016. “It was a song I wrote for my eldest son, it was a big ballad that was very uncharacteristic of something I’d sing myself … At some point, I’d like to get it into a children’s movie of some sort because it was a pretty lovely song.”
The song was later given to Latin artist Marc Anthony, who also recorded for Columbia – but while Anthony publicly announced that it would be included on his 2002 album “Mended,” it was not on that final album.
The demo recording filed with the Library of Congress has been widely circulated among Springsteen collectors over the years, but its release in “Blinded by the Light” will be its first official release.
The other Springsteen songs in “Blinded by the Light” have all been previously released, including the title track, “Thunder Road,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “The River” and “The Promised Land” — though in addition to the familiar studio recording of that last song, a couple of scenes feature a live, acoustic version that has not been previously released.
At a reception after the Los Angeles screening of “Blinded by the Light” on Wednesday, Manzoor told TheWrap that Chadha found that version of “The Promised Land” and received permission from Springsteen’s management to use it.