03 May 1972 demo version
[Male voice (spoken):] "Cowboys Of The Seas", take 1.
Well, they ride beneath the waves at twenty-thousand leagues
On stallions stitched to seaweed strands, so smiling, so smiling
They herd the fishes of the deep, they ride for you and me
They ranch the rich and the sunken soil at the bottom of the sea
And in the dead of night, alive in sleep I hear them calling me
Them deep sea desperadoes, them midnight maelstrom freaks, the cowboys of the sea
So on wings of sleep I pierce the deep and ride like a hurricane
In midnight still I paid my bill, I turned my back on the land
With the help of Old Paint, that seaweed nag, it's just Jesse James and me
We ride the depths and we rob the banks with the cowboys of the sea
With a seaman's grip on navigation and some fired, hired hands
Whoa, we set forth to confront the nation and lend a cowboy's hand
We do the dolphins dance duet, my mermaid babe and me
Then I ride off into the blue sunset at the bottom of the sea
Whoa, and with the seaman's grip on submarining and some aqualung outlaws
Our guns are made of solid dreaming and bullets of the cause
Whoa, and with hand held high to touch the sky a good Texas Ranger I'll be
But sometimes I feel like a lone stranger 'midst the cowboys of the sea
Oh, and man above he just can't make love, he's gotta rape his mother the sea
Because of his greed we're a vanishing breed, we cowboys of the sea
With the cowboys of the sea
[Male voice (spoken):] Thank you so much Bruce, we'll do some copying now.
The above lyrics are for the demo of COWBOYS OF THE SEA 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 studio version #1 for more details about the song and the events surrounding this 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.
This 03 May 1972 demo version of COWBOYS OF THE SEA 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).
List of available versions of COWBOYS OF THE SEA on this website:COWBOYS OF THE SEA [Studio version #1]