03 May 1972 demo version

[Male voice (spoken):] uh... Bruce Springsteen, take 1.

Shrieks of sheikhs as they run across the movie screen
A thousand sand dune soldiers led by an Arabian queen
And the harem girls move like fancy dancers in my dirty dream
And I wake up on the floor holding on a bed lamp

And Mama comes in, she screams, "Hey! You been out with that tramp again last night
You know that silver sequined Arab black bitch, the one that Mama don't like"
But, Mama, she sings me them moontime melodies with this great Top 40 hook
She shrugs her shoulders, she don't care, Papa just stares and says, "Mary, look, the girl's alright, the girl's alright"

And there's a tenseness in the air, don't you know, can't you feel
Because there's something hanging there, pull back the mist and reveal it
And even if you fear what you hear, don't conceal it
If what Mama feels is too real, she just claim she don't feel it

So come out from behind your bunkers 'cause the liftoff's been a bust
Oh, Papa's gone and Mama's dead and buried in my rocket dust
You're alone now for the first time, well, that's all right
Because all fear will completely disappear come the Arabian night

Well, the soundman smiles and turns the dials to set the meter reading rising
He pulls the singer's voice from out of his pocket to see if the audience likes it
Oh, and in the very first row sits sweet Jenny Rue with a bell on her shoe and she wants him to make it
He flicks a switch but Jenny moves too fast and the audience sways to the sound of her shotgun blast
The manager comes running out from behind stage, he says
"Check the band's arms for bullet holes, make 'em roll up his sleeves"
The drummer shoots himself with cyanide and then asks to be relieved
And me, I say, "Well, it's-, hey, it's crazy in here which is the- which is the stage door out? I gotta get up tomorrow morning for work"
And the promoter says, "Man, once you're in they all lead out, what's the matter man, ain't you heard?
There's a war going on on the outside and I'm paying you to sing like a bird
So get in and get tough or get up and get out because things aren't too tight"
I told him, "Don't worry, everything's gonna loosen up come the Arabian night
Come the Arabian night"

So I get back in my bed but outside my window I hear another gang fight
It's Duke and the boys against The Devil's best man and both sides have drawn their knives
But Duke, he's a well known knife fighter, and with one quick jab he brings The Devil down
He smiles 'cause he knows there's a high bounty on Devil's in any good God fearing town
Well, they say Duke sold The Devil to some priest in Pennsylvania to exhibit on his altar Christmas night
Now, The Devil's eyes, they're still red with fire as long as Duke walks upright
And The Devil swears there's going to be a showdown come sundown on the Arabian night
Whoa, on the Arabian, Arabian night, oh


The above lyrics are for the demo of ARABIAN NIGHTS that was recorded during Springsteen's first studio audition session for CBS Records. The recording took place on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios in New York City, NY. It features Springsteen solo on vocals and acoustic guitar. See the studio version for more details about the song and the events surrounding this audition.

The 03 May 1972 Audition

Bruce Springsteen's first "formal" studio audition for CBS took place on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios in New York City. Produced by John Hammond and engineered by Phil Giambalvo, the session consisted of 12 songs (two of them played twice, making a total of 14 tracks); session log information survives and it has been verified that the below-listed recordings encompass the complete session. This so-called "John Hammond Demo Session" was assigned the job number 79682; Hammond's voice is heard on the recording of the audition reading off the session number, "Bruce Springsteen, Columbia Pop audition, job number 79682, Mary Queen Of Arkansas, take 1".

The master Scotch magnetic tape reels from the audition were on display as part of the From Asbury Park To The Promised Land exhibition at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum in Cleveland, OH, along with boxes labeled with running orders:

On the first reel:
Mary Queen of Arkansas (see MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS [take #1] and MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS [take #2])
Saint in the City (see IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY)
Jazz Musician (see JAZZ MUSICIAN [take #1] and JAZZ MUSICIAN [take #2])
If I Was a Priest (see IF I WAS THE PRIEST)
Arabian Nights (see ARABIAN NIGHTS)
On the second reel:
Growin' Up (see GROWIN' UP)
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (see DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?)
Two Hearts in True Waltz Time (see TWO HEARTS IN TRUE WALTZ TIME)
Street Queen (see STREET QUEEN)
Angels (see THE ANGEL)
Southern Sun (see SOUTHERN SUN)
Cowboys of the Seas (see COWBOYS OF THE SEA)

Four tracks from the "John Hammond Demo Session" that were previously officially released in other versions were included on the Tracks box set in 1998. These are: MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS [take #2], IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY, GROWIN' UP, and DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?.

In his 2012 book E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Clinton Heylin wrote that over the years Hammond would come to insist that their demo was "better than any tape Bruce has made since, because Bruce is [now] so uptight about perhaps overshadowing somebody else in the band." In 1981, he would send Springsteen a copy of the tape as a reminder of what might have been. Springsteen's response was Nebraska.

Bootleg Releases

This 03 May 1972 demo version of ARABIAN NIGHTS has been circulating on several bootleg releases, including The Early Years Volume Two (Bagel Boys Records) and The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 3 (Yellow Dog Records).

Bruce Springsteen -- The Early Years Volume Two (Bagel Boys Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Early Years Volume Two (Bagel Boys Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 3 (Yellow Dog Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 3 (Yellow Dog Records)

Available Versions

List of available versions of ARABIAN NIGHTS on this website:

ARABIAN NIGHTS [Studio version]
ARABIAN NIGHTS [April 1972 demo version]
ARABIAN NIGHTS [03 May 1972 demo version]

Page last updated: 26 Jan 2013