HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG)

Official studio version


[Instrumental]

All rise

Well the judge and the jury came into the court room
At about 9:30 the 23rd of June
Now we're here to try this boy for his crimes
To see if we set him free or make him serve his time
Jury all got up in the chairs
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to jail

Cherged with speeding, running down his mother
Oh stabbing his wife and strangling her lover
Well the court is ready to hear your plea
Son, are you guilty or not guilty
Jury all got up to hear his plea
He's guilty, he's guilty, don't let that boy go free

[Instrumental]

All rise

So the judge and the jury came into the court room
At about 10:30 the 23rd of June
Now we're here to try this boy for his crimes
And to see if we set him free or make him serve his time
Jury all got up in the chairs
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to jail
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to jail
He's guilty, he's guilty, send that boy to jail


Info

HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) 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 HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) as released in 2015.

The song is edited on Chapter And Verse; the first instrumental part is cut by about 18 seconds and the second instrumental part is cut by about 73 seconds. It is complete on the bootleg releases.

Bruce Springsteen performed HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) live with Steel Mill in 1970 and 1971 (see the "Live History" section below). Steel Mill recorded the song in studio on 22 Feb 1970 (see the "Composition and Recording" section below). The song is also known under the titles "Guilty", Send That Boy To Jail", and "The Judge Song".

Composition and Recording

According to Robbin Thompson, Springsteen wrote HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) after he was arrested for sneaking into the beach on the Jersey Shore to avoid the dollar admission fee. He told Backstreets magazine in an interview published in the Spring 1999 (#62) issue: "What amazed me when I got there [Asbury Park, NJ] was that you had to pay to get on the beach. I couldn't figure that out. That's why I liked Bruce's song 'Guilty', which I did for [the One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen] tribute album. It was about getting arrested for sneaking on the beach. They'd make such a big deal out of it."

Steel Mill recorded three songs at Pacific Recording Studio in San Mateo, CA, 22 Feb 1970: HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG), GOIN' BACK TO GEORGIA, and THE TRAIN SONG. After brief warm-up rehearsals, which weren't recorded, the band recorded each song in one take. These were the only three songs rehearsed and the only three songs recorded. Promoter Bill Graham, who at the time had recently started his Fillmore Records label offered Steel Mill a contract, which the band rejected due to its poor terms and conditions.

For its release on Chapter And Verse, HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) 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 the band line-up is Bruce Springsteen on vocal and guitar, Danny Federici on organ, piano, and backing vocals, Vini Lopez on drums, and Vinnie Roslin on bass and backing vocals.

Chapter And Verse

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.

Bruce Springsteen -- Chapter And Verse
Bruce Springsteen -- Chapter And Verse

Chapter And Verse is available as a single-disc CD and as a double-disc LP, as well as digital download and streaming.

Bootleg Releases

Prior to its release on Chapter And Verse, this official studio version of HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) appeared on several bootlegs, including The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 1 (Yellow Dog Records) [track 04].

Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 1 (Yellow Dog Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 1 (Yellow Dog Records)

Live History

HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) is known to have been performed at least 12 times 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.

  1. 13 Jan 1970 at The Matrix, San Francisco, CA (with Steel Mill)
  2. 28 Feb 1970 at Free University, Richmond, VA (with Steel Mill)
  3. 18 Apr 1970 at Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ (with Steel Mill)
  4. 24 Apr 1970 at Monmouth College, West Long Branch, NJ (with Steel Mill)
  5. 13 Jun 1970 at Ocean Ice Palace, Bricktown, NJ (with Steel Mill)
  6. 14 Aug 1970 at 7th And Marshall Street Parking Deck, Richmond, VA (with Steel Mill)
  7. 29 Aug 1970 at Centennial Park Band Shell, Nashville, TN (with Steel Mill)
  8. 17 Oct 1970 at Monmouth College, West Long Branch, NJ (with Steel Mill)
  9. 24 Oct 1970 at Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN (with Steel Mill)
  10. 18 Jan 1971 at D'Scene, South Amboy, NJ (with Steel Mill)
  11. 22 Jan 1971 at The Upstage, Asbury Park, NJ (with Steel Mill)
  12. 23 Jan 1971 at The Upstage, Asbury Park, NJ (with Steel Mill)

HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) was sound-checked prior to the 06 Mar 2003 show in Richmond, VA, (as far as it's known) but it was not performed on any of The Rising Tour's regular shows. During this show Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band were joined on-stage by Richmond native and former Steel Mill vocalist Robbin Thompson and Southeastern Virginia native Bruce Hornsby for the Hank Ballard song LET'S GO LET'S GO LET'S GO. According to an Interview with Thompson in Upstage News (December 2003), when he arrived at the venue the band were trying to play HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG). He inquired of Springsteen if that was what they were going to do, but Springsteen replied that they couldn't remember it.

Covers

Very few artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG).

Robbin Thompson -- Better Late Than Never
Robbin Thompson -- Better Late Than Never

LP - Out There Records (OTR-585) - USA, 1985

See Robbin Thompson's cover version for more details.
Steel Mill Retro -- The Dead Sea Chronicles
Steel Mill Retro -- The Dead Sea Chronicles

CD-R - Steel Mill Retro LLC (no catalog number) - USA, 2005

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. This is the first of three issues of this album. See Steel Mill Retro's cover version for more details.
Various artists -- For You 2: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- For You 2: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

2xCD - Route 66 Music (DTCDA005-2) - Italy, 2010

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) is performed by Dust'N'Bones.

References

Some of the above information about the song's studio recording and live history is taken from Brucebase.

Available Versions

List of available versions of HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) on this website:

HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Official studio version]
HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Live 13 Jan 1970 version]
HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Robbin Thompson's Cover version]
HE'S GUILTY (THE JUDGE SONG) [Steel Mill Retro's cover version]

Page last updated: 26 Jan 2017