Live 05 Feb 1975 version
[Ed Sciaky spoken intro:] Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Main Point, I'm Ed Sciaky, from WMMR, and with the help of Mom's Wholesome Audio, we are very happy to be able to share with people all over the Delaware Valley what is a very special evening. Bruce will do a gig tomorrow night and Friday night at Widener, and they'll be his last two performances in Philadelphia for a few months, as he goes off to conquer America and the world. Tonight's a very special farewell to The Main Point from Bruce, as a benefit for The Main Point. Let's welcome home to The Main Point and to WMMR one more time, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band!
Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night
With bruised arms and broken rhythm in a beat-up old Buick but dressed just like dynamite
He tried sellin' his heart to the hard girls over on Easy Street
But they sighed, "Oh, Johnny, it falls apart so easy and you know hearts these days are cheap"
And the pimps swung their axes and said, "Johnny, you're a cheater"
And the pimps swung their axes and said, "Johnny, you're a liar"
And from out of the shadows came a young girl's voice -- "Johnny!"
Said, "Johnny, don't cry"
And Johnny sighed, "Puerto Rican Jane, whoa, won't you tell me what's your name
I want to ride you down to the other side of town
Where paradise ain't so crowded, there'll be action goin' down on Shanty Lane tonight
All them golden-heeled fairies in a real bitch fight, pull thirty-eights and kiss the girls goodnight"
And Johnny sighed, "Goodnight, it's all right, Jane
Ah, let the black boys in to light the soul flame
We may find it out on the street tonight, baby
Or we may walk 'til the morning light, maybe"
Well, like a cool Romeo he made his moves, oh, she looked so fine
And like a late Juliet she knew he'd never be true, but she did not really mind
Upstairs the band was playin' and the singer was singin' something about going home
And she whispered, "Spanish Johnny, you can leave me tonight, but just don't leave me alone"
And Johnny sighed, "Puerto Rican Jane, word is down the cops have found the vein"
Them little barefoot boys, they left their homes for the woods
Them little barefoot street boys, they say homes ain't no good
They left the corners and they threw away all their switchblade knives
And kissed each other bye-bye
And now Johnny sat on the fire escape watchin' the kids playin' down in the street
And he called down, "Hey, little heroes, uh, summer's long, but I guess it ain't so sweet around here no more"
Janey sleeps in sheets damp with sweat; Johnny sits up all night and watches her dreamin' on
And the sister breaks down in the chapel late at night after everybody's gone
Janey wakes up and moves over to share her pillow, but she sees Johnny up and out of bed and putting his clothes on
And she sighs, "Them romantic young boys (them romantic young boys), all they ever want to do is fight"
Well, them romantic young boys (them romantic young boys), and they call in the window:
"Hey, Spanish Johnny, you want to make a little easy money tonight?"
And Johnny whispers, "Goodnight, it's all tight, Jane
I swear I'll meet you tomorrow night on Lover's Lane
And I may find it out on the street tonight, baby
Or we may walk until the morning light, maybe"
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh
[Spoken outro:] What's up?
The above lyrics are for the live 05 Feb 1975 performance of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA, during what is considered The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour. The song was played in a stripped down arrangement featuring Springsteen backed by Roy Bittan on piano and Suki Lahav on violin and backup vocals. A "police siren" sound effect prop was used at the end of the song.
The Main Point was a small coffeehouse venue on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr, PA. It was formed in 1964 by Jeanette and William Campbell and four other couples as a small folk-based coffeehouse venue inspired by the Philadelphia Folk Festival. The venue was famous for its small intimate atmosphere, homemade food and home baked goods, and inexpensive ticket prices. Over the years, various styles of music were presented; the venue hosted many famous performers in its heydays, including Bruce Springsteen who performed there on no less than 25 dates between 1973 and 1975. He started as an opening act during a 4-night residency in January 1973, and returned in April as a headliner.
Soon after The Main Point's opening, Bill Scarborough became co-owner and booking director from 1964-1975. When Philadelphia's Sunday Bulletin asked him in September 1973 how he made booking decisions, Scarborough cited several factors but admitted that occasionally his own musical tastes influenced him. "I think that the booking of a singer named Bruce Springsteen is the best example I can give you of personal taste and hunch entering into my final choice. Here was a new act out of nowhere, who happened to sign with a major label, and put out an album that reminded me of the best of Dylan. I decided to book him as a headliner, even though he was barely known. We did alright with him, but not as well as we'd hoped. I still feel, though, that he's going to be a big star."
The venue was popular among both musicians and listeners. Clarence Clemons commented in a special Main Point 10th anniversary publication, "The whole band had the flu. Bruce had 103 degree temperature. If it was any other place but the Main Point, any concert or club in the country, we would have cancelled."
The Main Point constantly ran into financial problems related to its intimate size. Ironically, it was its size that made it so popular. Musicians gave benefit concerts for the coffeehouse to help it out of its financial straits. Some of these concerts were broadcast over the local progressive rock radio station WMMR-FM, and many well known bootleg recordings have been made from these performances. Bruce Springsteen's 05 Feb 1975 benefit concert stands out as a particularly legendary event. The Main Point finally closed its doors in 1981.
At the request of Philadelphia's WMMR-FM disc jockey Ed Sciaky, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed a 05 Feb 1975 concert at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA. This was a benefit show held for the financially struggling club, with Bruce and the band being the sole act on the bill. The show was MC'd by Sciaky and was broadcast by WMMR-FM on the same night. The station solicited for donations to be made by phone during the broadcast.
Shortly before he passed away in January 2004, Sciaky told Backstreets magazine (issue #82, Spring 2005) that the now-famous broadcast almost never happened. After a promise from Bruce Springsteen and Mike Appel to do a broadcast of the 02 Feb 1975 Main Point benefit, Springsteen decided the day of the show that he didn't want it to air. He was playing some new songs, which would soon appear on his upcoming Born To Run album, and many of them were still unfinished. Sciaky had to call Springsteen, despite Appel's objections, trying to convince him to at least do a shortened broadcast. In the end, Springsteen decided to do the whole show on the radio.
The show was not broadcast live-as-it-happened. "We didn't have a phone line from The Main Point, so they had to tape the show in hour-long segments and then drive them to the station and put them on the air," Sciaky explained to Backstreets. "And after the final reel had played, Bruce's lighting guy, Marc Brickman took all of the tapes. So we never got a good copy of the show. But it was a classic show, and it's collected to this day, and I'm glad."
This famous Main point concert was taped off the airwaves and immediately started circulating among a number of fans. In the late seventies, an edited from of the broadcast became available on vinyl bootlegs. This changed in the digital era, when pioneering Italian label and Springsteen specialists Great Dane Records released the show in 1990 on the 2-disc CD bootleg The Saint, The Incident & The Main Point Shuffle.
The Saint, The Incident & The Main Point Shuffle utilized the commonly circulated recording of the broadcast, but a couple of years after its release, a 10-inch reel-to-reel tape containing the first 90 minutes of the pre-FM recording of The Main Point show made its way into collectors' hands. On this recording, the sound quality is far superior to the much more compressed off-air recording. The last 70-plus minutes of the performance, or what's presumably on a second reel, were never found from the pre-FM source. The discovery of the pre-FM reel-to-reel tape spurred a host of new bootleg releases, including the first "Masters Plus" reissue by Great Dane Records itself, which paired the new 90-minute pre-FM recording with the original FM-sourced remainder of the show.
The 05 Feb 1975 broadcast from The Main Point was commercially released in the UK. Since 2005 some enterprising record labels in the UK have been releasing Bruce Springsteen radio and TV broadcasts (and some soundboard recordings) from the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Though these releases are not authorized by Bruce Springsteen or his record company, they are lawful due to a legal loophole in the UK.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.
List of available versions of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET on this website:INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET [Album version]