The Harry Potter films had almost everything. They had magic and adventure. They had a story beloved by children and adults. But they did not have a Bruce Springsteen song, although they could have.
Bruce Springsteen offered his song “I’ll Stand By You Always” to the franchise, but filmmakers turned him down. Reportedly, Springsteen wrote the song between 1998 and 2000 after reading the first Harry Potter book to his eldest son, Sam. He then made the song available to director Christopher Columbus for either Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
Springsteen explained to BBC Radio 2 that “I’ll Stand By You Always” “was a big ballad that was very uncharacteristic of something I’d sing myself.” He added, though, that “it was something that I thought would have fit lovely.”
The song’s rejection had nothing to do with the quality of the song. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s contract stipulated that no commercial songs could be used in the movies.
“I’ll Stand By You Always” almost had a second life when Marc Anthony planned to include it on his album Mended (2002). But ultimately Anthony left the song off the album.
In Springsteen’s demo version, “I’ll Stand By You Always” is a quiet ballad. The lyrics contain no overt references to Harry Potter, but they do sound like they were written from a parent to a child.
I know here in the dark tomorrow can seem so very far away;
Here the ghosts and the goblins can rise from your dreams to steal your
Together we’ll chase those thieves that won’t leave you alone out from
under the bed, out from over our home;
And when the light comes we’ll laugh my love about the things that the
night had us so frightened of;
And until then,
I’ll stand by you always, always, always.
Around the time that Springsteen was shopping the song to the Harry Potter folks, a CD-R with the song was given to some executives at Columbia Records. But the song is not generally available. Springsteen’s demo of “I’ll Stand By You Always” hit the Internet for a brief period recently, but for now it is gone.
Springsteen does tend to release old songs eventually, so we may still see an official release of “I’ll Stand By You Always.” But until we do, you may imagine how the song might sound along with Conan O’Brien (“Let’s raise our wands to all the wizards and steel workers. . . “).
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