Live 27 Nov 1980 version
[Spoken intro:] This is a song that I, that I auditioned with -- to get my record contract... [chuckles] and, when you go to, when you go to get your record contract, it's a funny kind of, funny kind of thing because... I went to CBS and there's this big black building in the middle of Manhattan. And you go there, they don't let you in, you gotta, they gotta check your I.D. and they gotta make sure you're, you're not coming in to, to terrorize the place or, or something or steal records. It's like, and you get there and you go up in the elevator, and I remember going up in the elevator, and I remember I saw, I saw CBS lawyers, I saw my manager's lawyers, but I didn't see my lawyers. And they take you, and they take you up and you go up past the 120th floor and you go to that floor that's on top of the building, it's called 'X'. And when you get out, there's clouds, and you look down and you see all the New York City down there, and you look over the river you see a little bit of New Jersey [loud cheers], but it looks a long ways away... And I remember, I knocked on this door... And Johnny if you're still out there, John, this is for you, John Hammond. And then...
I stood stone-like at midnight suspended in my masquerade
Then I combed my hair till it was just right and commanded the night brigade
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain, I walked on a crooked crutch
I strode all alone into a fallout zone, and came out with my soul untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, when they said "sit down" I stood up
Ooh ooh, growin' up
Well the flag of piracy flew from my mast, my sails were set wing to wing
Well I had a jukebox graduate for first mate, she couldn't sail but she sure could sing
Well I pushed B-52, bombed 'em with the blues with my gear set stubborn on standing
I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school, never once gave thought to landing
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, when they said "come down", shut up!
Ooh ooh, growin' up
[Spoken:] It was a cold Thanksgiving night, me and Clarence and Steve we were driving down this old back road going to Hank's turkey farm to steal some turkeys. This was way back, we didn't have no money, could buy no turkey, so, we're driving out, way out 'round Marlborough. And we're looking, and we're looking trying to find this place, and then just as we figured we're just about up to it, we get a flat tire. The rear end, the right tire. So Clarence and Steve they climb in the front seat 'cause there's no streetlights, it's real dark, and we're hearing all these turkey sounds coming out of the woods [crowd makes loud turkey sounds]. Is that turkey sounds? [chuckles] And we're trying to decide who's gonna get out and fix the flat. I've been, I've been afraid of the dark, I still sleep with the light on, I'm not gonna go out and fix it. Who still sleeps with their light on? [crowd cheers] And so we decided we'd, we'd figure it out the American way, we would gamble to see who's gonna go out. Couldn't do it, had one too many guys, couldn't choose up. So, we're trying to think, well, we'll figure this out the democratic way: number one, I'm the boss, I don't have to get out. [crowds cheers very loud] Now, number two, Clarence is a lot bigger than Steve, he don't have to get out. Just as we had Steve's head and upper torso forced through the window [chuckles], just like in that movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind', this big light came flashing down at us. I stuck my head out the window, I looked up and there was this big cherry-red flying saucer with long Cadillac fins and on the side it had printed "Little Melvin and the Invaders - we play weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs". And this guy sticks his head out the window, he looks down and he says, "Hey, can any one of you guys tell me the way to the New Jersey Turnpike?" [loud cheers] Now we're not as dumb as we look, you know, we're not gonna give out this kind of valuable information for free. So we sit there, we start thinking, we said "Hey, Mr. spaceman, we'll make a deal with you. You gotta give us each one wish, one wish and we'll tell you how to get back to the Turnpike" So, he says "Ok, that sounds pretty fair". And first Clarence got his chance to wish, had to think real hard about this. As usual, he wished for his boyhood dream, a combination Laundromat and pizza parlor on the corner of downtown Asbury Park. [cheers] That's good. You can wash your clothes, you can eat at the same time. Nobody's thought of that yet. In a few years you're gonna see them all over. And uh... and then, then it was Steve's turn. [Steve says something to Bruce] No, you can't have the spaceman wish for that [chuckles]. [Steve talks again to Bruce] Alright, Steve was wishing [chuckles]. I don't know what the hell his wish was, [chuckles] I forget. [chuckles] But then it came my turn. Now, I was thinking real hard and I remember it was real quiet and I didn't even, I didn't even get a chance to say it out loud. I was just thinking it in my mind, and way over in the dark, in the dark side of the highway, I seen what I was wishing for, slowly, slowly start to appear. And let me tell you, man, when we touched...
I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere, you know it's really hard to hold your breath
I swear I've lost everything I ever loved or feared, I was the cosmic kid
My feet they finally took root in the earth, but I got me a nice little place in the stars
I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, when they said "come down" I threw up, on my new shoes
Ooh ooh, growin' up
Yeahhh yeah-yeah, growin' up
[Spoken outro:] And that's all what happened.
The above lyrics are for the live 27 Nov 1980 performance of GROWIN' UP at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, during The River Tour. The song was played in a full-band, album-style arrangement, and featured a story in the break. Springsteen introduced the song as the one that got him his record deal with CBS. He dedicated it to John Hammond.
List of available versions of GROWIN' UP on this website:GROWIN' UP [Album version]