I'm not going to try a claim there is no similarity, or to pass judgement on whether it was intentional or not. There are innumerable examples of artist "copying" the melody from other songs with out realising it. It's a great melody, and that is good enough for me. To my mind the KISS melody bears a striking resemblance to Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon".
When Sam Smith and Tom Petty came to an arrangement over the similarity of "Stay With Me" and "I Won't Back Down", the more modern song didn't immediately become invalid, it just acknowledged it's debt to the past.
And acknowledging debt is what I think gets to the heart of this song. It is a return to the widescreen epics of both "Born To Run" and the Roy Orbison of Bruce's youth. The song is a story, and whilst it may verge on ridiculous is it so much different from The Beatles "Ob-La-Di, Ob-Li-Da", or "Lola" by The Kinks? Bruce has talked about it being a re-imagining of a story his mother used to tell him as a child. Just because it isn't a tale of blue collar struggles doesn't make it any less valid.
If "Springsteen On Broadway" has taught us one thing it is Bruce's talent is a storyteller as much as songwriter and performer. "Outlaw Pete" is just another type of story. If you don't like it I understand, but I do, and only "Better Days" stands ahead of it in my list of Bruce album openers.
Yes, I know I've just said I prefer "Outlaw Pete" to "Thunder Road" as an opening track. I'm not claiming it to be a better song, but that I prefer it as an album opener. To complete my heresy, "Outlaw Pete" would easily make my top 20 Springsteen songs!
Thus concludes my defence of "Outlaw Pete".
Can you hear me..........