IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY

Live 08 Dec 1978 version


[Spoken intro:] What's the rush? I just got here! This is for all the folks from the Liberty Hall days.

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 its heartbeat
The 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
Ain't it hard to be a saint
In the city!

I was the king of the alley, I could talk some trash
The prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar's bash
The pimp's main prophet, I kept everything cool
A backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
When the heat came down, it was left on the ground
The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street
Showin' me a hand I knew even the cops couldn't beat
I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat
Ain't it hard to be a saint

And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
The tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance, hold on by just a thread
It's too hot in these tunnels, you 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 struggle to your feet
Out of that hole and back up on the street

South side sisters sure look pretty
Cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys sure talk gritty
Ain't it hard to be a saint
In the city
Well, all right

Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Hey-ey-ey, yeah
Yeah-eah-eah, yeah
Yeah-eah-eah, yeah
Yeah-eah-eah, yeah
Yeah-eah-eah, yeah (Yeah-eah-eah, yeah)
Yeah-eah-eah, yeah (Yeah-eah-eah, yeah)
Yeah-eah-eah, yeah (Yeah-eah-eah, yeah)
Ah!

[Spoken outro:] It's so hard to be a saint in the city!


Info

The above lyrics are for the live 08 Dec 1978 performance of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY at The Summit in Houston, TX, during the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour. The song was played in its traditional full-band arrangement. Video for the complete 08 Dec 1978 concert was released on the Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut DVD in 2010.

Bruce Springsteen performing IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY on 08 Dec 1978 at The Summit, Houston, TX (from the "Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut" DVD)
Bruce Springsteen performing IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY on 08 Dec 1978 at The Summit, Houston, TX (from the "Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut" DVD)

Houston '78: House Cut

Towards the end of the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performed at The Summit in Houston, TX, on 08 Dec 1978.

Ticket stub for the 08 Dec 1978 show at The Summit, Houston, TX
Ticket stub for the 08 Dec 1978 show at The Summit, Houston, TX

This was reportedly the only show of the tour that was filmed in its entirety, and this could be the very reason it was chosen for official release as part of the The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story box set.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story (box set cover art)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story (box set cover art)

The video was produced by Emmy- and Grammy-winner Thom Zimny and the audio was mastered by Bob Ludwig. Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut was released on 16 Nov 2010 exclusively as part of the The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story box set, in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats. The video clocks at around 176 minutes.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut (DVD cover art)
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut (DVD cover art)

The video footage was the taken from the in-house video screen at The Summit, which was one of the first arenas in the United States to have this system at the time. This gave the release its title "Houston '78 Bootleg: House Cut". Considering that it was taken from the mono soundboard, the sound is only available in PCM stereo and not in 5.1 surround.

  1. BADLANDS
  2. STREETS OF FIRE
  3. IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY
  4. DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
  5. SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT
  6. INDEPENDENCE DAY
  7. THE PROMISED LAND
  8. PROVE IT ALL NIGHT
  9. RACING IN THE STREET
  10. THUNDER ROAD
  11. JUNGLELAND
  12. THE TIES THAT BIND
  13. SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TOW TOWN
  14. THE FEVER
  15. FIRE
  16. CANDY'S ROOM
  17. BECAUSE THE NIGHT
  18. POINT BLANK
  19. SHE'S THE ONE
  20. BACKSTREETS
  21. ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT)
  22. BORN TO RUN
  23. DETROIT MEDLEY
  24. TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT
  25. YOU CAN'T SIT DOWN
  26. QUARTER TO THREE

Credits

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.

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: 22 May 2011