Official studio version
They broke your toys this morning, Henry, rode your board right into dust
Surrounded you with strangers who you could not trust
And then they had the gall
To write your name up on the girl's room wall
And send you out to Maria who spoke of babies and all
And wanted to shoot your joy
It's a hard world when you're the new kid in town, ain't it, Henry Boy
Well the North side is for diamond-studded women subtly selling their wares
And the West side is for debutantes and would be millionaires
Oh the East side is for lost boys who know their moves too well
The South side is for gamblers, Henry, the train stops once for hell
It's a hard world when they're forcing you to live your life out on Broadway
But Henry I'm sure you're gonna like it well
Whoa the constellation she points to gate eleven, that's where you got your connections
Let me take a look inside my magic book, I don't think you're beyond my inventions
Whoa these doctor's appendages I'm giving you for wings, I'm sure they will meet the occasion
I'm gonna mix you some magic, you'll be spitting sparks and ready for the invasion
Oh and the Milky Way's a trip for dippers, they saw you coming a mile away
In the amusement park you'll get clipped by rippers hiding behind candy canes
In the alleyway you'll get ripped by strippers all who know your name
In the stalls sit the soldier-boy kissers on leave for just a day
And Henry couldn't take it, he's gonna be a submariner riding underground for the Pope
Gonna stand on the corner of Broadway, and scream "Up 'scope"
HENRY BOY is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his Chapter And Verse compilation album in 2016. The above lyrics are for the official studio version of HENRY BOY as released in 2016.
HENRY BOY was recorded in studio in mid-1972 (see the "London Publishing Demos" section below) and was performed live around that period.
There is no indication to when HENRY BOY was written. One studio version of the song is in circulation among collectors — it's the version that was eventually officially released in 2016. It's a studio take likely recorded around May-Jun 1972 at Pocketful Of Tunes Studios in New York City, NY. It features Springsteen solo on vocals and acoustic guitar. The May-Jun 1972 sessions at Pocketful Of Tunes Studios were produced by Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos, and Cretecos took the role of recording engineer.
In his 2012 book E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Clinton Heylin mentions that HENRY BOY was included in summer 1972 in a list of possible tracks for Springsteen's debut album.
HENRY BOY appears on a Springsteen handwritten song list that was put up for auction in December 2013 on GottaHaveRockAndRoll.com. This is most probably a list of songs that Springsteen was considering taking into the studio at the very early stages of the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. recording sessions (July 1972).
For its release on Chapter And Verse, HENRY BOY was mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland, ME. According to the album's credits, the song was produced by Bruce Springsteen and Mike Appel and recorded by Harvey J. Goldberg and features Bruce Springsteen solo on vocal and guitar.
1972 was a massive songwriting period for Bruce Springsteen. He wrote many songs in 1972, prior to the January 1973 release of his debut album. According to Brucebase, the vast majority of the known recordings of these songs were made during a 3-4 month period, between May and August 1972, though a few were recorded shortly beforehand and several weren't recorded until early 1973. Virtually all of these feature Springsteen completely solo, on either acoustic guitar or keyboards. Springsteen's manager Mike Appel and his partner Jim Cretecos selected some of this large pool of recordings in 1973 and 1974 and distributed them in Europe most notably to the UK-based music publishing agency Intersong Music Ltd. Some recordings were distributed on tape, others on acetates. Most of these acetates were manufactured at Media Sound in New York City, NY, and Angel Sound in Bedford, MA. Springsteen did not record at either of these locations. Intersong also pressed its own acetates for distribution within the industry. This audio gradually filtered into collector circles in the late seventies, often under the misnomer the "London Publishing Demos". According to Clinton Heylin 2012 book E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, the track-listing of the so-called "London demo-tape" is as follows: STREET QUEEN, SOUTHERN SUN, HENRY BOY, IF I WAS THE PRIEST, VIBES MAN, SONG FOR ORPHANS, SHE'S LEAVING, THE SONG, ARABIAN NIGHTS, and COWBOYS OF THE SEA. Heylin adds that four other songs were also lodged with Intersong, including NO NEED. The remaining three are probably TOKYO, MARIE, and VISITATION AT FORT HORN.
Chapter And Verse is a Bruce Springsteen compilation album released on Columbia Records on 23 Sep 2016 in the U.S. It was officially announced on 28 Jul 2016. The album is an audio companion to Springsteen's autobiography Born To Run, which was published four days later, on 27 Sep 2016, by Simon & Schuster.
The album is a career retrospective consisting of 18 tracks. It spans almost half a century of Springsteen's career, from as early as 1966. According to the press release, Springsteen selected the songs to reflect the themes and sections of the autobiography. The first five tracks have not been previously released.
Tracks 1 and 2 are from The Castiles era, track 3 is from the Steel Mill era, and track 4 is from The Bruce Springsteen Band era. Tracks 5 and 6 are Springsteen solo, from around the time he signed his record deal with CBS. The remaining 12 tracks are compiled from 12 different Bruce Springsteen studio albums, from 1973 to 2012. All song were written by Bruce Springsteen, except tracks 1 (co-written by Bruce Springsteen and George Theiss) and track 2 (written by Willie Dixon). Track 2 is only song on the album recorded live.
Chapter And Verse is available as a single-disc CD and as a double-disc LP, as well as digital download and streaming.
Other versions of HENRY BOY were also officially released.
HENRY BOY was among the songs that were on master tapes that were kept by Jim Cretecos and ended up in the nineties with Dare International and JEC Music USA. However, HENRY BOY is one of the few of these songs that were not included on any of the CD releases associated with these companies (The Early Years, Unearthed, or Before The Fame). See PRODIGAL SON for more details.
Prior to its release on Chapter And Verse, this official studio version of HENRY BOY appeared on several bootlegs, including including The Demo Tapes (Traveling Productions) [track 03], The Early Years Volume One (Bagel Boys Records) [track 03], and The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 4 (Yellow Dog Records) [track 07].
HENRY BOY is known to have been performed at least once in Bruce Springsteen's early years (pre-October 1972). Very little is known about shows from this early period, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates. The live Aug 1972 version of HENRY BOY was released on the John Hammond: From Bessie Smith To Bruce Springsteen home video in 1990.
As far as it's known, no artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's HENRY BOY.
List of available versions of HENRY BOY on this website:HENRY BOY [Official studio version]