JACKSON CAGE

John Wesley Harding's cover version


Driving home she grabs something to eat
Turns a corner and drives down her street
Into a row of houses she melts away
Like the scenery in another man's play
To a house where the blinds are closed
To keep from seeing things she don't wanna know
She pulls the blinds, she looks out on the street
The cool of the night takes the edge off the heat

In the Jackson Cage
Down in the Jackson Cage
You can try with all your might
But you're reminded every night
That you've been judged and handed life
Down in the Jackson Cage

Every day ends in wasted motion
Crossed swords on the killing floor
To settle back is to settle without knowing
The hard edge that you're settling for
'Cause there's always just one more day
And it always will be that way
Girl, you've been down here so long
I could tell by the way that you move you belong

To the Jackson Cage
Down in the Jackson Cage
And it don't matter just what you say
Are you tough enough to play the game they play?
Will you just do your time and fade away
Down in the Jackson Cage?
Down in the Jackson Cage

It's nights when I dream of a better world
But I wake up so downhearted, girl
I see you feeling so tired and confused
I wonder what it's worth to me or you
Just waiting to see some sun
Never knowing if that day will come
Left alone standing out on the street
Till you become the hand that turns the key

To the Jackson Cage
Down in the Jackson Cage
Well, darling, can you understand
The way that they will turn a man
Into a stranger to waste away
Down in the Jackson Cage


Info

The above lyrics are for John Wesley Harding's cover version of JACKSON CAGE. The track features John Wesley Harding on vocals, Mellotron, guitar, and drum, Chris Von Sneidern on bass and shaker, and Carrie Bradley on violin. It was produced, engineered, arranged, and mixed by John Wesley Harding and Chris Von Sneidern in June 1997 at Ordophon-upon-Avon in San Fransisco, CA.

John Wesley Harding recorded Bruce Springsteen's JACKSON CAGE in mid-1997 during the recording sessions of his 1998 album Awake. The track didn't make the album's cut, but was released in 1997 on the various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen. It was later included on other Bruce Springsteen tribute albums, and as a bonus track on the 2001 reissue of Harding's Awake album. See the "Official Releases" section below for more details.

Liner Notes

Harding wrote in the liner notes of the One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen tribute album:

"Jackson Cage" is the fourth Springsteen song I ever heard. "Hungry Heart" was the first (on the radio – a Sunday morning on Radio One) which made me buy The River. "Jackson Cage" is the third track one side one of that record, and the performance is so strong that it almost belies the quality of the lyric; most music that sounds that great doesn't need to bother with good words as well.

Since then, I missed a school exam to see Springsteen live for the first time (no-one seemed to notice: "The River" tour, Brighton), lied about being on the guest-list for a show (and got in! "Tunnel Of Love " tour, Sheffield), and even jumped over a barricade to get closer to the stage ("Amnesty" tour, Wembley Stadium) - all along time ago now but I'd do it again. I've sidled up, asked for his autograph, and been unduly rewarded. Like everyone else in the world, I've even thought he was speaking directly to me (and, in occasions, he actually was). The least I could do was turn in a decent version of a great song for a tribute record.

When Springsteen asked me to open a couple of shows on the "Tom Joad" tour, I had just finished my new record and I gave him a cassette. He was very complimentary about the arrangements and production, so I thought I'd do one of his songs like I would have done it on JWH's New Deal - folk noir on the killing floor, downhearted but dreaming of a better world.

Harding and Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen learned about John Wesley Harding when he heard his 1993 album Why We Fight. A year later, he made a guest appearance at Harding's 18 Jun 1994 gig at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA. "It's a very nice story – just that he likes my music," Harding said in 2002. "I got to meet him by coincidence, but he knew who I was." The two performed a duet on Springsteen's WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY, which was officially released in January 2001 as a bonus track on a reissue of Harding's 1998 album Awake. Harding's cover of JACKSON CAGE, recorded in mid-1997, was also included as a bonus track on the same reissue of Awake.

During his The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour, Springsteen chose Harding to open for him on his 29 and 30 Nov 1995 shows at Berkeley Community Theatre in Berkeley, CA. That was the first time that Springsteen had an opening act since 1975.

Harding is an artist-in-residence at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ, where he curates the WAMFEST (The Words and Music Festival). On 06 May 2010, the festival ended with "Jersey Rain: Robert Pinsky & Bruce Springsteen in Conversation and Performance with John Wesley Harding", an event held in the university's Dreyfuss Theater. Springsteen and poet Robert Pinsky, joined at times by Harding, performed their works separately and together. In total, Springsteen performed six songs, interspersed with poems read by both him and Pinksy. Harding joined Springsteen on two songs: THE PROMISED LAND and WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY. The following day, Harding wrote on his blog: "Tears came to my eyes during 'The River', more or less the first Springsteen song I ever heard, when it suddenly hit me that one of my very greatest heroes was sitting a foot to my right singing the shit out of my favourite song."

Official Releases

John Wesley Harding's cover version of JACKSON CAGE was included on several official releases.

Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen

2xCD - The Right Stuff (7243 8 59780 2 9) - USA, 1997
2xCD - EMI (TOCP-50377/8) - Japan, 1997

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. Disc 1 was reissued in 2000 as The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen.
Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen Sampler
Various artists -- One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen Sampler

CD - The Right Stuff (DPRO 70876-10927-2-1) - USA, 1997

This is a promotional sampler compiling 10 tracks from the One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen various artists tribute album.
Various artists -- The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen

CD - The Right Stuff (72438-56530-2-5) - USA, 2000

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. This is a reissue of disc 1 of the 1997 2-disc set One Step Up / Two Steps Back: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen.
John Wesley Harding -- Awake: The New Edition
John Wesley Harding -- Awake: The New Edition

CD - Appleseed Recordings (APR1040) - USA, 2001

This is a remastered and expanded reissue of Harding's 1998 album Awake. Among the five bonus tracks are covers of JACKSON CAGE and WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY, the latter being a live version featuring a guest appearance by Bruce Springsteen.
Various artists -- Born To Run 2003 Volume One
Various artists -- Born To Run 2003 Volume One

CD - Uncut (2003 04A) - UK, 2003

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. It's a free CD (volume 1 of 2) issued exclusively with the April 2003 issue of Uncut magazine.

Credits

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

Available Versions

List of available versions of JACKSON CAGE on this website:

JACKSON CAGE [Album version]
JACKSON CAGE [Home demo]
JACKSON CAGE [Vocal snippet]
JACKSON CAGE [Band rehearsal #1]
JACKSON CAGE [Band rehearsal #2]
JACKSON CAGE [Live 12 Feb 2014 version]
JACKSON CAGE [John Wesley Harding's cover version]

Page last updated: 21 Nov 2016