Live 08 Nov 1996 version
[Spoken intro]: Got one more for you [cheers]. Well this is a song that I... only gonna sing this song once in my life. It's gonna be right now [cheers]. Uh... never sang it before, don't know if I know how to sing it... but I'm gonna try. Uh... Alright, let me give a shot here. Take some of the lights down a little bit because... this is a moody kind of piece. Yeah. Uh not quite that moody, you know (chuckles). Alright I need some real silence because man I got to concentrate to get this sucker right now!
I was born right here on Randolph Street in Freehold
Here right behind that big red maple in Freehold
Well I went to school right here
Got laid and had my first beer
Well my folks all lived and worked right here in Freehold
I remember running up the street past the convent to the church here in Freehold
I chased my daddy down in these bars
First fell in love with this guitar
Here in Freehold
Well I had my first kiss at the YMCA canteen on a Friday night
Maria Espinosa tell me where are you tonight
You were thirteen but way ahead of your time
I walked home with a limp but I felt fine
That night in Freehold
Well the girls at Freehold Regional they looked pretty fine
Had my heart broke at least half a dozen times
I wonder if they missed me, if they still get the itch
Would they had dumped me if they knew I'd strike it rich
Straight out of Freehold
Well Tex rest in peace and Marion gave us kids a hand in Freehold
Georgie, we started up a little Rock And Roll band in Freehold
[spoken:] Ah, we got it wrong!
[spoken:] I'm reading it right now
[spoken:] I gotta do it right
[spoken:] I gotta get this one right
[spoken:] Oh boy, I gotta hate my own handwriting now
[spoken:] It's just a dramatic interlude there
Tex rest in peace and Marion gave us a hand in Freehold
Georgie, we started up a Rock And Roll band in Freehold
But we learned pretty quick how to rock it
I'll never forget the feeling of that first five bucks in my pocket
That I earned in Freehold
Well I got outta here really hard and fast in Freehold
Everybody wanted to kick my ass back there in Freehold
Well if you were different, black or brown
It was a bit of a redneck town
Back then in Freehold
Well something broke my daddy's back in Freehold
In '69 he left and he never come back to Freehold
Except once he drove from California 3000 miles in three days
Called my relatives some dirty names
And pulled straight out of Freehold
Sister had her first little baby at seventeen in Freehold
Well people they can be pretty mean
Honey you had a rough road to go but you ain't made of nothin' but soul
I love you more that you'll ever know
We both survived Freehold
Well my buddy Mike well he's the mayor now in Freehold
I remember when we used to have a lot more hair in Freehold
Well I left and swore I'd never walk these streets again Jack
Tonight all I can say is "holy shit, I'm back"
Back in Freehold
Well this summer everything was green in Freehold
Rode my kids on the fire engine through the streets of Freehold
I showed them where dad was born and raised
And first felt the sun on his face
There in Freehold
Well I still got a lot of good friends right here in town
I can usually find me a free beer somewhere
With offers of free meals I am blessed
Should I go crazy, blow all my money and ruin my life, but at least I'll never go hungry I guess
Here in Freehold
Well I got a good Catholic education here in Freehold
Led to an awful lot of masturbation here in Freehold
Father it was just something I did for a smile
Hell I still get a good one off once in a while
And dedicate it to Freehold
Don't get me wrong, I ain't putting anybody down
Hell in the end it all just goes and comes around
It's one hell of a town
[Spoken outro:] Take those cameras and shoot 'em up! I love you. Thank you. [Bruce leaves stage and comes back after 36 seconds] Thanks. Love you. I had a great night. It's great to be back in town. Thanks for supporting the Community Center.
Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, this comedy song appeared for the first time when it debuted live on 08 Nov 1996 in Freehold, NJ. FREEHOLD, also known among Bruce Springsteen fans under the title "In Freehold", was never officially released, and as far as it's known, was not recorded in studio. Springsteen always played the song solo on acoustic guitar.
The above lyrics are for the live 08 Nov 1996 world debut of FREEHOLD at Saint Rose Of Lima School in Freehold, NJ, during The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour. When he finished the song, Springsteen said "Take those cameras and shoot 'em up!"; he had asked the audience earlier in the show not to take flash camera pictures, and that he would wait around at the end of the show when they could take all the pictures they wanted.
FREEHOLD was most probably written specifically for this 08 Nov 1996 "homecoming" show -- Springsteen has not performed at the Saint Rose Of Lima School since Spring 1967, the last time his early band The Castiles played at the school's Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) dance.
Freehold, NJ, is Springsteen's hometown, which he left for good in 1968. The Saint Rose Of Lima School (he sings "I went to school right here") was Bruce's elementary school from 1955 to 1963. Freehold Regional High School, referenced in the song, was Springsteen's high school from Sep 1963 to 1967.
Maria Espinosa was the girl with whom Bruce had his first kiss. That was during a dance at the local YMCA canteen in downtown Freehold. Espinoza never told anyone about her secret kiss secret until Springsteen's performance of the song. "My parents were so strict. I wasn't allowed to have a boyfriend, so I couldn't let anyone know what happened," she told the Asbury Park Press. When Springsteen hit stardom, she didn't think anyone would believe her. "I can't believe he remembers my name. I was flattered when I found out," she said. In the song, Springsteen says that she was 13 when they locked lips, but she remembers that she was 15. "It must have lasted about a minute," she said. "It was good. I dreamed about it afterward."
Springsteen mentions the late Tex Vinyard (who passed away in 1988) and his wife Marion, a couple from Freehold who sponsored young bands in town. They managed and supported Bruce's first "professional" band The Castiles (1965-1968). Having no children of their own, the couple took the group under their wing through their teenage years. The living room of the Vinyard's house in Freehold became a place for the young band to practice and hang around.
Springsteen also references George Theisis, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for The Castiles. He's one of the founders of the band, and he had a crush on Bruce's sister, Ginny. As a way to get close to her, he asked Springsteen to audition for a spot in The Castiles. Springsteen would join the band a few months after it was formed.
Introducing FREEHOLD during the 08 Nov 1996 show (see the song's spoken intro above), Springsteen said that he's "only gonna sing this song once in life". However, he did sing it again, and it was "outside" of Freehold.
FREEHOLD was performed 11 times during The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour (128 dates, November 1995 to May 1997), in November 1996 in Freehold, NJ, on the last five of the ten shows of the February 1997 Australian leg of the tour, and then again in Europe on the first five of the thirteen shows of the tour's final leg. There were only slight lyrical variations between these performance of the song.
The Reunion Tour included a 15-night stand at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ, in July/August 1999, and FREEHOLD was played during 7 of these shows. It was also played another time later in Boston, making a total of 8 performances during that tour.
The versions from 1999 have several lyrics variations to the earlier versions from 1996-1997. A notable new verse in the 1999 versions is about a rejected plan of making a statue of Bruce Springsteen in his hometown Freehold. See the live 11 Aug 1999 version for more details.
The 15 Jul 1999 show was the first date of the 15-nights stand at the Continental Airlines Area, and FREEHOLD was sound-checked the day before at the same venue. On 29 Jul 1999, the song was dedicated to Freehold Mayor Michael Wilson (mentioned in a dedicated verse in the song) who was in the audience. Also note that during The Reunion Tour, the song always came right after LIGHT OF DAY on the setlist.
FREEHOLD was performed off-tour on 19 and 20 Feb 2003 at Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA, during the DoubleTake Magazine benefit shows. This February 2003 versions is similar to the one used in 1999. See the live 19 Feb 2003 version for more details.
By the time this page was last updated, the 20 Feb 2003 show in Somerville was the last time FREEHOLD was performed.
Thanks Chris at born2run.de for the info corrections and lyrics and spoken intro help. Thanks Bryan S. Friesth for the corrections.
List of available versions of FREEHOLD on this website:FREEHOLD [Live 08 Nov 1996 version]