"Because the Night" is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith that was first released in 1978 as a single from the Patti Smith Group album Easter. This version rose to number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as number 5 in the United Kingdom, and helped propel sales of Easter to mainstream success.
The song has subsequently been covered by numerous artists, and at least two of these cover versions have been chart hits. A 1992 version of the song by Co.Ro was a hit in several countries in Europe and South America, and reached number 1 in Spain. The following year, a live acoustic version was recorded by 10,000 Maniacs for MTV Unplugged. This recording reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the highest charting version of the song in the US.
In 1987, the song was ranked number 116 on NME magazine's list of "The Top 150 Singles of All Time". It remains the best-known song of Smith's catalog.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band recorded "Because the Night" at Atlantic Studios, New York on June 1, 1977, the first day of sessions for Darkness on the Edge of Town, though the lyrics only consisted of the song title and some mumbling. Springsteen struggled with the song almost four months until his engineer, Jimmy Iovine, got involved. At the time, Iovine was also producing the album Easter for Patti Smith at the Record Plant, New York, where Darkness was being recorded at the same time.
Iovine says, "Now, Bruce was very understanding and very flexible, because he realized that this was my first real break as a producer. Anyway, one night whilst we were lounging around the Hotel Navarro in New York I told Bruce I desperately wanted a hit with Patti, that she deserved one. He agreed. As he had no immediate plans to put ‘Because the Night’ on an album, I said why not give it to Patti. Bruce replied, ‘If she can do it, she can have it.’"
Springsteen later admitted he was not satisfied with the song, and he already knew he wasn't going to finish it since it was "a[nother] love song". Iovine brought Smith the last recording by Springsteen, from September 27, 1977. Smith added her own lyrics, recorded it for her album Easter, and scored her first and biggest hit single.
The song was first performed live at a Patti Smith concert at CBGB's in New York City on December 30, 1977 (Patti's 31st birthday) with Springsteen joining on vocals and guitar. Though it was never released on any of Springsteen's studio albums, in concert beginning with his Darkness Tour Springsteen would often perform the song with his own lyrics. To date, he has performed it 503 times in concert.
The only two commercially released recordings of a Springsteen version of the song were in the 1986 box set Live/1975–85, where Smith was listed as co-writer; and the 2010 compilation album The Promise (using the original recording from the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions, but using Smith's lyrics).