Joe Ely Recruits Bruce Springsteen for New Song ‘Odds of the Blues’

After more than 30 years of singing together on concert stages around the world, the two buddies finally team up for an original song

Joe Ely‘s new album Driven to Drive is arriving Aug. 2, and leadoff single “Odds of the Blues” features vocals from his longtime buddy, Bruce Springsteen.

The song was inspired by Ely’s time at the late-night bar TV’s in Lubbock, Texas. “There was always a dice game in the back room, the pool table had a bad lean, and the jukebox mainly played old blues songs,” he said in a statement. “I wrote the song later when I put my studio together in Austin. I asked Bruce recently if he would like to sing with me on this song and he said he’d love to.” 

“We’ve been long lost friends for a long time,” he continues. “One of my memories of us singing together was in Dublin, Ireland, when we both got on stage with Jerry Lee Lewis and Shane MacGowan and sang ‘Great Balls of Fire.’”

He’s referring to a May 20, 1993, stop on Springsteen’s Human Touch/Lucky Town tour at the RDS Arena in Dublin. During an extended encore, Ely appeared to perform his 1988 tune “Settle for Love” with Springsteen, and then returned to the stage a bit later with Lewis for “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On.”


In the years that followed, Ely became a regular guest at Springsteen shows all across the globe. Their most recent onstage collaboration took place May 6, 2014, when Ely joined Springsteen and the E Street band at a Houston, Texas, concert for “Great Balls of Fire” and “Lucille.”

Springsteen and the E Street Band recently kicked off a European tour. A North American leg begins Aug. 15 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Ely has no dates currently on the books, but it’s quite possible he’ll pop up at a Springsteen show for the live debut of “Odds of the Blues.”

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