Bruce Springsteen’s Unreleased ‘Harry Potter’ Song Was Rejected By J.K. Rowling

The world of entertainment is small and intertwining, and that has brought us some absolutely delightful — and sometimes downright bizarre — collaborations between entertainers who we never would have dreamed of putting together.

Remember when Jay-Z teamed up with Linkin Park? What about when Ozzy Osbourne contributed to a track for The Muppets and performed alongside Miss Piggy? The results of these mashups can range from delightful to horrifying, but they’re certainly memorable and noteworthy.

One place where musicians can stretch their creative muscles and try out a different musical style is in collaborations with the film world. Many soundtracks end up with star-studded credits and unique singles created exclusively for the movie. 

Bruce Springsteen created a song especially with the Harry Potter film franchise in mind, but the franchise’s creator, J.K. Rowling, turned him down. 

Bruce Springsteen is a celebrated musician 

Bruce Springsteen performs on stage at the New York Comedy Festival
Bruce Springsteen | lya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science

Springsteen, affectionately known as “The Boss” by his fans, has become a staple of American music history. Hello! reports the New Jersey-born singer rose to fame in the 1970s after throwing himself into band after band to try to find a way to break through on the music scene.

The prolific songwriter kept grinding it out and eventually things clicked into place. From there, success escalated quickly, and when the album Born to Run was released, Rolling Stone called Springsteen “rock n’ roll’s future.” 

Springsteen has done all he can to live up to the hype, and when he turned his next album’s content to the struggles of everyday working Americans, he merged his initial interest in the themes of folk music with the sound of rock n’ roll. The results were electrifying, and Springsteen has been going steady ever since. Springsteen has had a long and celebrated career. 

Bruce Springsteen wrote a song for the Harry Potter franchise

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Stepping well outside of his traditional sound, Springsteen penned a ballad that he hoped would find a home on the soundtrack for one of the Harry Potter films. The song is called “I’ll Stand By You Always,” and Rolling Stone praised it as “earnest and unhurried” while admitting that it might be “a little too somber, perhaps, for a movie about kids who can cast spells.” 

Springsteen, who has three adult children, wrote the song with his son in mind. Sweet, protective lines like “Together we’ll chase those thieves that won’t leave you alone/ Out from the under the bed, out from over our home” showcase Springsteen’s paternal caring for his child. 

While the song was written for the Harry Potter films, it doesn’t make any specific reference to the events in the series or the characters themselves. Instead, it plays on themes of protection, trust, and friendship that underpin the series as a whole. 

J.K. Rowling rejected Bruce Springsteen’s song

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Unfortunately, Springsteen’s song never made it onto a Harry Potter soundtrack. The rejection, however, probably has less to do with Springsteen’s song itself and more to do with a specific artistic and creative choice from J.K. Rowling and the rest of the creative team for the films.

The films don’t use any commercial tracks. In fact, they stay away from vocal tracks altogether and instead use a score from composer John Williams

As for where that leaves The Boss’ ballad, there’s still hope that it could find a home somewhere else. “At some point I’d like to get [“I’ll Stand By You Always”] into a children’s movie of some sort. It was a pretty lovely song,” Springsteen explained.

Perhaps this song with such a touching backstory will find its way into a film where it can be fully incorporated.