Harry Potter: Bruce Springsteen’s Song Explained (& Why It Was Cut)

Bruce Springsteen created an original song for the Harry Potter film franchise, but it was never used in any of the eight installments. The well-known American musician wrote the song titled “I’ll Stand By You Always” before the release of 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Based on the popular book series by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter film adaptations debuted over the course of a decade. Though Springsteen’s involvement in the franchise would have been an exciting collaboration, the two worlds never collided.

Springsteen’s career as a musician began in the mid-60s before he rose to worldwide fame with the release of Born to Run in 1975. In the decades that followed, Springsteen continued to cement himself as one of the most successful musical artists in history. Nicknamed “The Boss,” Springsteen had a history of recording songs for several notable movies. Among them was “Streets of Philadelphia,” which won an Oscar for the Best Original Song for Philadelphia in 1994. Two years later, Springsteen was nominated for the same award for his song “Dead Man Walkin’,” heard in the film of the same name. More recently, Springsteen created the title song for 2009’s The Wrestler, which ended up winning a Golden Globe.

The talented musician surely didn’t have a habit of developing songs intended for major motion pictures. He ended up writing “I’ll Stand By You Always” after reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with his children in the late ’90s. The song, which has an overwhelmingly somber tone, didn’t refer to any characters or Harry Potter elements specifically. Instead, it featured lyrics like “I wish I could tell a story / Chase away all those ghosts you’ve got inside of you.” The Springsteen song eventually made its way to Warner Bros., but the studio couldn’t use the song.

Springsteen first offered “I’ll Stand By You Always” to director Chris Columbus. Warner Bros. executives apparently got a hold of the song, but they were forced to cut the idea (according to The Wrap). Rowling had a lot of control in the film adaptation, and her contract stated that no commercial songs could be used in the franchise. For that, Warner Bros. had no choice but to pass on Springsteen’s song. The creation of the tune remained a secret for over a decade and a half until it surfaced in February 2017.

Interestingly, music became a memorable aspect of the Harry Potter movie franchise. Rather than vocal performances, the series relied on the work of brilliant composers. Legendary composer John Williams scored the first three films, developing  “Hedwig’s Theme,” a tune that became synonymous with the franchise. Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat each served as composers for other installments. Looking back, Springsteen’s song didn’t seem like a fit for the Harry Potter movies due to the lack of clear connections to the plot. Then again, “I’ll Stand By You Always” even seemed uncharacteristic for Springsteen based on the song’s tone. Still, it was finally released in the credits of the 2019 film, Blinded by the Light.

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