Live 23 Oct 1987 version
[Spoken intro:] This is a song by uh... another young fellow that John gave a break to.
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of change shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay-ay-ay-ay forever young
[Spoken outro:] Thanks John.
FOREVER YOUNG is a song originally released by Bob Dylan in 1974. See the original Bob Dylan version for more details.
The above lyrics are for the live 23 Oct 1987 performance of FOREVER YOUNG at St. Peter's Church in New York City, NY, during the memorial service for John H. Hammond who had passed away on 10 July that year. The song was played in a solo acoustic guitar and harmonica arrangement.
An edited version of the live 23 Oct 1987 performance of FOREVER YOUNG (that omits the second verse from Bob Dylan's original three verses and to which the above lyrics correspond) plays over the closing credits of the 1990 documentary John Hammond: From Bessie Smith To Bruce Springsteen. The documentary was first broadcast via PBS stations across the United States on 20 Aug 1990 and was subsequently released on VHS and LaserDisc (see the "Official Releases" section below).
Hammond was a record producer, musician, activist, music critic, and record company talent scout from the 1930s to the early 1980s. He was credited with discovering a diverse array of artists, including Billy Holiday, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Christian, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Bob Dylan, and Stevie Ray Vaugham.
In late April 1972, Springsteen's then-manager Mike Appel arranged a private audition for his client with CBS A&R manager John Hammond. An informal private audition took place around 10:30 AM on 02 May 1972 in Hammond's office in the A&R Department at Columbia Records in New York City. Hammond told Crawdaddy magazine that "Mike started yakking. He said, 'I want you to know that we're just, you know, being nice to you because you're the guy who discovered Dylan and we just wanted to find out if that was luck or whether you really have ears.' So I said, 'Stop, you're making me hate you!'"
Springsteen told Mark Hagen in an interview for Mojo Magazine published in January 1999, "It was a big, big day for me [...]. I was 22 and come up on the bus with an acoustic guitar with no case which I'd borrowed from the drummer from The Castiles. I was embarrassed carrying it around the city. I walked into his office and had the audition and I played a couple of songs and he said, 'You've got to be on Columbia Records. But I need to see you play. And I need to hear how you sound on tape.'"
Springsteen said that he and Mike Appel "walked all around the Village trying to find some place that would let somebody just get up on stage and play. We went to the Bitter End, it didn't work out. We went to another club. And finally we went to the old Gaslight on McDougai Street and the guy says, 'Yeah, we have an open night where you can come down and play for half on hour'. There were about 10 people in the place and I played for about half an hour." The performance took place at the Gaslight AuGoGo club in New York City.
John Hammond was impressed. "The kid absolutely knocked me out," he told Newsweek in 1975. "I only hear somebody really good once every ten years, and not only was Bruce the best, he was a lot better than Dylan when I first heard him." As Springsteen recalled, Hammond said, "Gee, that was great. I want you to come to the Columbia Recording Studio and make a demo tape". He invited Springsteen back to CBS to make a studio demo audition tape the following day. Springsteen said, "A demo I made at Bill Graham's studio in San Francisco in '69 was the only other time I'd ever been in a real recording studio. Columbia was very old-fashioned: everybody in ties and shirts; the engineer was in a white shirt and a tie and was probably 50, 55 years old, it was just him and John and Mike Appel there, and he just hits the button and gives you your serial number, and off you go. I was excited. I felt I'd written some good songs and this was my shot. I had nothing to lose and it was like the beginning of something."
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. 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".
Four of the tracks recorded during that demo session would be officially released in 1998 on the Tracks box set. John Hammond's introduction of the audition was kept intact at the start of MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS which opens the box set. Hammond was prepared to sign Bruce on the spot but administrative formalities within CBS meant that it would take several weeks for that to become reality.
Springsteen told Mark Hagen, "I knew a lot about John Hammond, the work he'd done, the people he'd discovered, his importance in music and it was very exciting to feel you were worth his time. No matter what happened afterwards, even it it was just for this one night, you were worth his time. That meant a lot to me. He was very encouraging – simply being in that room with him at the board was one of my greatest recording experiences."
In March 1972 Springsteen signed a long-term agreement with Mike Appel, agreeing that Appel and Cretecos would promote Springsteen's interests. For that purpose, the two formed three partnerships: Laurel Canyon Management to act as Springsteen's manager, Sioux City Music Inc to cover his songwriting activities, and Laurel Canyon Productions to cover his recording activities. Springsteen entered into a recording agreement with Laurel Canyon Productions in March 1972, and an "Exclusive Songwriting Agreement" with Sioux City Music Inc and a management agreement with Laurel Canyon Management about a week following the 03 May 1972 audition. On 09 Jun 1972 Laurel Canyon Productions (describing itself as Laurel Canyon Productions Inc) signed a recording agreement with CBS. This meant that Springsteen's services were subcontracted to CBS by Laurel Canyon, i.e., he was not signed directly to CBS. The recording sessions for Springsteen's debut LP would kick off in early July 1972.
The John Hammond: From Bessie Smith To Bruce Springsteen documentary, which includes excerpts of Bruce Springsteen's live Aug 1972 versions of HENRY BOY and GROWIN' UP and an edit of his live 23 Oct 1987 version of FOREVER YOUNG, was released on VHS and LaserDisc in 1990.
FOREVER YOUNG was performed off-tour on 23 Oct 1987 at St. Peter's Church in New York City, NY, during the memorial service for John H. Hammond.
FOREVER YOUNG was performed off-tour on 02 Sep 1995 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, OH, during the concert for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The song was performed as a duet with Bob Dylan. See the live 02 Sep 1995 version for more details.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help and Peter (from Lost In The Flood) for the VHS and LaserDisc scans. Thanks Dan Blazek for the corrections.
It has been reported that an audience recording of the original/unedited version of this 23 Oct 1987 version of FOREVER YOUNG exists. Please contact me if you have it. The John Hammond: From Bessie Smith To Bruce Springsteen was also released on VHS in the UK and Japan. If you have these two releases (or scans of them), or any other release of this documentary not mentioned on this page, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.
List of available versions of FOREVER YOUNG on this website:FOREVER YOUNG [Live 23 Oct 1987 version]