DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE

Live 25 Feb 1972 version


Well I remember back when I was just a small boy
Yeah on the night that my grandpa died
It was three o'clock, it was three o'clock in the morning
All of a sudden my eyes they popped open wide
It was mama, my sweet mama
She said, "Ah, won't you come with me son"
It was three o'clock, she told me grandpa's he's dead
Oh and the doctor he says that he can't come
Well now, my mama she took me, she took me by my hand
And she said, "don't worry son we have to pass, we have to pass through grandpa's room"
Mama, my grandma she was crying, oh ??? she said he was such a good man
Don't you know he was too
She said, "He was sitting up in bed, alive just like you and me, when all of a sudden ooh he just slumped back down"
??? three o'clock and oh the reverend's here
Ooh aah grandpa he has gone down
Grandpa's gone down to the riverside one last time
She said, "Grandpa's gone down to the riverside just one last time"

Well mama ah well she took me by my hand
She took me into her room and said, "You and sister can sleep here tonight"
And I was just about to stop crying and close, close my eyes and go to sleep
When I heard something oh giving a young boy a fright
I swear I heard them angels singing
And it's sounding like it was coming from my grandpa's room
Ah and the church bells, the church bells they were ringing
To shine a little light, to shine a little light on his bloom
I heard the voices, they're coming from, I heard them sing
They said, "Swing low sweet chariot"
Come on they're gonna carry me home
They said, "Swing low sweet chariot"
Carry me home
'Cause grandpa's gone down to the riverside one last
Grandpa's gone down to the riverside one last time
Oh, grandpa's gone down to the riverside one last time
Oh, oh, grandpa's gone down to the riverside one last time


Intro

DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE is an unreleased Bruce Springsteen song from the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. period (April 1972 to February 1973), also known under the title "Grandpa's Gone Down". In the second edition (1992) of his book Backstreets: Springsteen, The Man And His Music, Charles R. Cross listed "Grandpa's Gone Down" under "Other Songs 1972 to 1975".

Composition and Recording

Bruce Springsteen wrote DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE in early 1972 for his deceased grandfather. There are only a few known live performances of the song, from February 1972 and from around April 1972. The song is only otherwise known from Appel-Cretecos song inventory documents. It hasn't surfaced among the pool of early demos that Springsteen recorded.

25 Feb 1972 Performance

The above lyrics are for the live 25 Feb 1972 performance of DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE at The Back Door in Richmond, VA. They are transcribed from a soundboard recording of the show (see below).

1972 Residency at The Back Door

The Bruce Springsteen Band played nine shows at The Back Door in Richmond, VA, during three of the four weekends of February 1972 (04, 05, 06, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, and 27 Feb 1972). They played one show each night and they were the sole act on the bill. Soundboard and audience recordings from these shows circulate among collectors.

Soundboard recordings for 8 tracks, taken directly from Tinker West's original reel tapes, are in circulation. The exact dates for the 8 tracks are not known but it is more likely that all of them come from the same show, probably from the final weekend of the residency. Audience recordings for 13 more tracks are also in circulation. The exact dates are not know but it is more likely that most of them come from the final weekend's performances. A soundboard recording consisting of 14 more tracks is currently in very limited circulation. The recording comes from the 25 Feb 1972 show and is likely the complete show. An audience recording consisting of 5 more tracks is also in circulation and, according to Brucebase, can be identified with some confidence to date from the 26 Feb 1972 show.

  1. DOWN THE ROAD APIECE
  2. MAKE UP YOUR MIND
  3. LIKE A STRANGER
  4. I REMEMBER
  5. I'M INTO SOMETHING GOOD
  6. TAKE OUT SOME INSURANCE
  7. DOWN TO MEXICO
  8. WHEN YOU DANCE
  1. MAGIC KIND OF LOVIN'
  2. LOVE IS A CRAZY THING
  3. THE BAND'S JUST BOPPING THE BLUES
  4. I JUST CAN'T CHANGE
  5. ALL I WANNA DO IS DANCE
  6. DOWN TO MEXICO
  7. BLESS MY SOUL
  8. DOWN TO MEXICO
  9. DARKNESS, DARKNESS
  10. SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD
  11. BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY
  12. IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE
  13. COWBOYS OF THE SEA
  1. BLESS MY SOUL
  2. SOMETHING YOU GOT
  3. COWBOYS OF THE SEA
  4. MAGIC KIND OF LOVIN'
  5. WALKING THE DOG
  6. DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE
  7. ALL I WANT TO DO IS DANCE
  8. LIKE A STRANGER
  9. ROUTE 66
  10. IT'S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE
  11. MAKE UP YOUR MIND
  12. COMING HOME
  13. COWBOYS OF THE SEA
  14. WHEN YOU DANCE

A reel-to-reel tape containing the soundboard recording of the 25 Feb 1972 show was auctioned in June 2014 on Sotheby's (see photo below). According to the auction house, the tape comes directly from the collection of John Hammond, "perhaps requested in an attempt to ascertain if the performer that he was so taken by as a solo acoustic act could similarly engage a live audience fronting an electric band." The tape features a printed label with hand-written setlist, but some of the songs are misidentified.

Reel-to-reel tape containing the soundboard recording of the 25 Feb 1972 show in Richmond, VA
Reel-to-reel tape containing the soundboard recording of the 25 Feb 1972 show in Richmond, VA

Live History

DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE is known to have been performed at least twice in Bruce Springsteen's early years (pre-October 1972). Very little is known about shows from this early period, and therefore, the song may have been played on some more dates.

  1. 25 Feb 1972 at The Back Door, Richmond, VA (with The Bruce Springsteen Band)
  2. Apr 1972 at Freehold Township High School, Freehold, NJ (Bruce Springsteen solo)

DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE appears on a Bruce Springsteen handwritten song list that was put up for auction in February 2010 on GottaHaveRockAndRoll.com. Based on the songs listed, the document is most likely a setlist for a Bruce Springsteen Band gig between October 1971 and February 1972. The thirteen-song track list is a mixture of known originals, covers, and several that remain unidentified.

1972 handwritten song list
1972 handwritten song list

Credits / References

Thanks Craig Statham for submitting the lyrics.

Much of the above information about the 1972 residency at The Back Door is taken from Brucebase.

Request

If you have any additional information about this song, or a scan of a Springsteen sheet that shows this title, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

Available Versions

List of available versions of DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE on this website:

DOWN TO THE RIVERSIDE [Live 25 Feb 1972 version]

Page last updated: 30 Jul 2014