Written and first recorded by Bruce Springsteen (1973).
Hit version by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (US #97 1976 |US #40 1977).
From the wiki: “The original version of ‘Spirit in the Night’ was written by Bruce Springsteen for release on his 1973 debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Springsteen had recorded 10 other tracks for the album, but Clive Davis, president of the record label that was releasing the album, was concerned that the recorded tracks did not have enough commercial appeal. Springsteen quickly wrote and recorded two additional songs: ‘Spirit in the Night’ and ‘Blinded by the Light‘.
Because these songs were added so late in the recording process, several of Springsteen’s band members were unavailable to record these two songs. As a result, the recording lineup for session was limited to Vini Lopez on drums, Clarence Clemons on saxophone, and Springsteen himself playing all other instruments.
“Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered “Spirit in the Night” for their album Nightingales and Bombers, with the title ‘Spirits in the Night’ shown on the album but ‘Spirit in the Night’ on the single. The single, featuring Mick Rogers on vocals, peaked at #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976. The following year, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band again released the song as a single, this time with vocals by Chris Thompson. That version reached Billboard’s Top 40, peaking at #40. but would not be released on an album (as a bonus track) until 1998’s reissue of The Roaring Silence.”
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, “Spirit in the Night” Rogers vocal (1976):