IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY

Live 31 Jul 1973 (late show) version


[Spoken intro:] I just remembered of a song... A many a tear... But if I... (laughs) Oh! What? It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City? Aw. You guys say that all the time now -- we ain't ever gonna play that song! But it is hard to be a saint in the city!

Oh!

Oh!

I warned you, Dennis!
Play that hard!

Ah, well, I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra
I was born blue and weathered but I burst just like a supernova
I could walk like Brando right into the sun
And dance like a Casanova
With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
Silver star studs on my duds like a Harley in heat
When I strut down the street I could feel the heartbeat
Them sisters fell back, said, "Don't that man look pretty"
The cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys, they sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city

I was the king of the alley, mama, I could talk some trash
I was the prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar's bash
I was the pimp's main prophet, I kept everything cool
The backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
And when the heat came down, and we were left on the ground
The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street
Showin' me a hand I knew the cops couldn't beat
I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat
It's so hard to be a saint when you're just a boy out on the street

The sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
And the tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
It's too hot in these tunnels, you can get hit up by the heat
You get up to get out at your next stop, they push you back down in your seat
Your heart starts beatin' faster as you're struggling to your feet
Then you're out of that hole and back up on the street

Them south side sisters sure look pretty
Cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city
So hard

(Oh mama!)

[Spoken outro:] Thank you, man. Thanks.


Info

The above lyrics are for the live 31 Jul 1973 (late show) performance of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY at My Father's Place in Roslyn, NY, during what is considered the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Tour. The song was played in a full-band album-style arrangement.

The 31 Jul 1971 Late Show

Bruce Springsteen and his band played three sold-out nights, two shows each night, on 31 Jul, 01 Aug, and 02 Aug 1973 at My Father's Place in Roslyn, NY. These were double-bill shows, with Nashville-based country singer-songwriter Alex Harvey opening and Springsteen and his band headlining.

Promotional ad for the Jul-Aug 1973 three-night residency at My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY
Promotional ad for the Jul-Aug 1973 three-night residency at My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY
(Taken from Brucebase)

Springsteen's second show on the opening night was broadcast live on WLIR-FM as part of the station's weekly Tuesday evening simulcast from the venue. A very good quality audio was taped off the airways and represents the entire broadcast, although the performance almost certainly included two to four additional songs that never went to air due to time limitations. The show has also circulated from the radio station master tape.

  1. 4TH OF JULY, ASBURY PARK (SANDY)
  2. NEW YORK CITY SERENADE
  3. SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT
  4. DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?
  5. IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY
  6. YOU MEAN SO MUCH TO ME
  7. THUNDERCRACK

The 31 Jul 1973 broadcast from My Father's Place 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.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live At My Father's Place In Roslyn, July 31, 1973
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live At My Father's Place In Roslyn, July 31, 1973

LP - DOL (DOR2042H) - Europe, 2015

This release contains the 31 Jul 1973 broadcast from My Father's Place.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live At My Father's Place In Roslyn, July 31, 1973
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live At My Father's Place In Roslyn, July 31, 1973

CD - Broadcasting Radio Records (BRR6035) - UK, 2016

This release contains the 31 Jul 1973 broadcast from My Father's Place.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live At My Father's Place In Roslyn, July 31, 1973
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live At My Father's Place In Roslyn, July 31, 1973

Digital album - Lilith Records (no catalog number) - UK, 2016

This is a download-only digital album. It contains the 31 Jul 1973 broadcast from My Father's Place.

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help. Some of the above info is taken from Brucebase.

Available Versions

List of available versions of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY on this website:

IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Album version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Unedited studio version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Unofficial studio version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [03 May 1972 demo version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 31 Jul 1973 (late show) version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 23 Nov 1974 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 05 Feb 1975 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 02 Oct 1975 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 18 Nov 1975 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 07 Apr 1976 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 25 Mar 1977 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 07 Jul 1978 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 08 Dec 1978 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 01 Jan 1979 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 14 Sep 1981 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 26 Nov 1996 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 20 Jun 2000 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 07 Mar 2003 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 03 Aug 2005 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 22 Nov 2005 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 28 Jul 2008 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 22 Nov 2009 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 26 Feb 2014 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [Live 25 Feb 2016 version]
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [David Bowie's cover version]

Page last updated: 03 Jul 2011