Unofficial studio version
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
Dance just 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 women fell back, said, "Don't that man look pretty?"
The cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them gasoline boys downtown sure talk gritty
And 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
Just a backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
And when the heat came down and 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
It's so hard to be a saint when you're just a boy out on the street
And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
As the tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
But 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 but they push you back down in your seat
Your heart starts beatin' faster as you struggle to your feet
And then you're out of that hole and back up on the street
And them south side sisters sure look pretty
The cripple on the corner cries out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys, they sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city
Ooh, ooh, ooh, so hard
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
The above lyrics are for a studio take of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY 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. See the album version for more details about the song.
This unofficial studio version of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY can be found on The Unsurpassed Springsteen Vol. 4 (Yellow Dog Records) bootleg.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.
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]