Studio version #1

Well, it's a Saturday night in New Jersey
And you feeling kinda wet
Now the summer heat is getting you worried
So you look as innocent as you can when you sweat
You got a woman on the other side of the law
But it ain't cool to go to see her yet
Because her ex-old man's some half-shot detective
With his heart set on Dragnet
And so you stand on the corner looking kinda torn
And in the Blue Light Lounge where death was born
The jazz musician blows his horn

You pop a letter to your baby in Richmond
'Cause you're feeling kinda down
She's kinda small but at least she don't bitch none
She needs you real bad and sometimes that's all that counts
You had a teenage band and flying hands
And you were pretty big in the South
But you passed out on stage and flew into a rage
And someone tried to revive you mouth to mouth
And you felt a pain in your chest as you passed the crown
And in the Blue Light Lounge the lights went down
And the audience, like monks, slipped silently out of town

Well, now the atheist he burns you for laughing out loud
'Cause he can't understand what you're saying
And the DJ he's rattling like a Gatling gun
Oh, but man, that's your record he's playing
And outside the park is dark
But the sidewalk's bright in line with the light of the living
Whoa, and baby can I walk you home tonight
Because it's so bad outside and there's so much worth a giving
I was stranded in the jungle
First stage witness at a company killing
Shuffling my feet, clutching my high school diploma
Promised sixty bucks a week and top billing
And has anybody seen sweet Gabriel
That dark woman with the funny tattoo
Know the curtain calls of her shadow on my walls
Is all she left to pull me through
And out on the corner there's no room to move
'Cause everybody's trying so hard to groove
And in the Blue Light Lounge jazz man plays the blues


JAZZ MUSICIAN is a song written by Bruce Springsteen who recorded it in studio in mid-1972. The song has not been officially released. The above lyrics are transcribed from a studio take of the song likely recorded in June 1972.

Composition and Recording

There is no indication to when JAZZ MUSICIAN was written. Two studio versions of the song are in circulation among collectors. The first one is a studio take likely recorded around May-Jun 1972 at Pocketful Of Tunes Studios in New York City, NY. It features Springsteen solo on vocals and piano. 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. The second one (see studio version #2) is a studio take likely recorded around Jul-Aug 1972 at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY. It features Springsteen solo on vocals and piano. The Jul-Aug 1972 sessions at 914 Sound Studios were produced by Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos, and Louis Lahav took the role of recording engineer. The above lyrics transcribed from the first (May-Jun 1972) studio version of JAZZ MUSICIAN. According to Sony's database of Springsteen recording sessions, JAZZ MUSICIAN was cut on 27 Jun 1972 at 914 Sound Studios. Studio version #1 is possibly from that 27 Jun 1972 session.

Two solo demos of JAZZ MUSICIAN were performed and recorded during Springsteen's first formal studio audition for CBS Records on 03 May 1972. They feature Springsteen solo on vocals and piano. See the 03 May 1972 demo version take #1, the 03 May 1972 demo version take #2, and the "1971-1972 Auditions" section below for more details.

JAZZ MUSICIAN (written as "The Jazz Musician") appears on a Springsteen handwritten song list that was put up for auction in July 2012 on GottaHaveRockAndRoll.com. Although the auction site claims it to be a setlist, this is most probably a list of songs that Springsteen was considering taking into the studio at the very early stages of the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. recording sessions (July 1972).

1972 handwritten song list
1972 handwritten song list

The two studio versions of JAZZ MUSICIAN are very similar in lyrics and in studio ambience and delivery, but studio version #2 is a slight improvement on studio version #1. 03 May 1972 demo version take #1 and 03 May 1972 demo version take #2 feature many lyrics variations compared to the studio versions.

The lyrics "And outside the park is dark but the sidewalk's bright in line with the light of the living", "I was stranded in the jungle", and "And out on the corner there's no room to move" are similar to lyrics from TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT.

1971-1972 Auditions

On 04 Nov 1971, Carl "Tinker" West, then-manager of The Bruce Springsteen Band, drove Bruce Springsteen to New York City to introduce him to Mike Appel, a songwriter who carried on his songwriting activities jointly with Jim Cretecos. Appel was then employed at Pocketful Of Tunes Inc., Wes Farrell's publishing company in New York City, NY, and the meeting took place at Pocketful Of Tunes. Springsteen performed two or three songs, some on piano and some on acoustic guitar. Only Appel and West were present at this first meeting. Appel has stated in interview that he was not particularly impressed by what he heard at this initial audition but did see raw creativity in the lyrics of BABY DOLL. That performance was not recorded and the titles of the other song(s) performed remain unclear. Appel indicated an interest in promoting them in some way and the meeting ended with an agreement to keep in touch but no commitments from either party.


Meanwhile Springsteen continued gigging with The Bruce Springsteen Band in New Jersey and Virginia and visited his family in California for a few weeks around the holidays. The next meeting between Springsteen and Appel took place on 14 Feb 1972. Springsteen performed a set of seven songs at Appel's office at Pocketful Of Tunes. The songs were performed live solo on acoustic guitar to an audience of three: Mike Appel, Jim Cretecos, and Bob Spitz. Spitz recorded the performance on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY was performed a second time at the request of Appel who reportedly was dazzled the lyrics. After that performance Appel and Cretecos began putting the wheels in motion to sign Springsteen to a comprehensive range of contracts.

  • IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [take #1, fast version]
  • IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY [take #2, slow version]

In March 1972, it was agreed that Appel and Cretecos would promote Springsteen's interests. For that purpose, Appel and Cretecos formed three partnerships owned equally by the two: Laurel Canyon Management to act as Springsteen's manager, Laurel Canyon Productions to cover his recording activities, and Sioux City Music Inc to cover his songwriting activities. In the meantime, Springsteen entered into an "Exclusive Management Contract" with Laurel Canyon Management and an "Exclusive Recording Contract" with Laurel Canyon Productions, but did not sign any songwriting agreement at this time, apparently wishing to think this matter over a bit longer. The two contracts were signed at Appel's office.

Appel wanted to sign Springsteen to Columbia Records. He could not arrange a meeting with label head Clive Davis but was able to arrange one with CBS A&R Manager and talent scout John Hammond. An informal private audition took place around 10:30 AM on 02 May 1972 in Hammond's office in the A&R Department at Columbia Records in New York City. John Hammond and Mike Appel were the only two present at the audition. All songs were performed on acoustic guitar and the performance, which lasted about 30 to 40 minutes, was not recorded but based on the collective recollections of the attendees at least the following four songs were played:


In a 1980 interview, Hammond mentioned he wasn't all that enamored with MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS, but that he loved all the other songs that Springsteen performed that morning. "It was a big, big day for me," Springsteen told Mark Hagen in an interview for Mojo magazine published in January 1999. "I was twenty-two and came up on the bus with an acoustic guitar with no case which I'd borrowed from the drummer from The Castiles. I was embarrassed carrying it around the city. I walked into [John Hammond's] office and had the audition and I played a couple of songs and he said, 'You've got to be on Columbia Records. But I need to see you play. And I need to hear how you sound on tape.'"

Springsteen said that he and Mike Appel "walked all around the Village trying to find some place that would let somebody just get up on stage and play. We went to the Bitter End, it didn't work out. We went to another club. And finally we went to the old Gaslight on MacDougal Street and the guy says, 'Yeah, we have an open night where you can come down and play for half an hour'. There were about 10 people in the place and I played for about half an hour." The performance took place at the Gaslight Au Go Go club in New York City. No recording has emanated from this club appearance which lasted about 30 minutes and included just 4 or 5 songs. Both Springsteen and Appel have mentioned these two tracks as having been played:


John Hammond was impressed. "The kid absolutely knocked me out," he told Newsweek in 1975. "I only hear somebody really good once every ten years, and not only was Bruce the best, he was a lot better than Dylan when I first heard him." As Springsteen recalled, Hammond said, "Gee, that was great. I want you to come to the Columbia Recording Studio and make a demo tape". He invited Springsteen back to CBS to make a studio demo audition tape the following day. Springsteen said, "A demo I made at Bill Graham's studio in San Francisco in '69 was the only other time I'd ever been in a real recording studio. Columbia was very old-fashioned: everybody in ties and shirts; the engineer was in a white shirt and a tie and was probably 50, 55 years old, it was just him and John and Mike Appel there, and he just hits the button and gives you your serial number, and off you go. I was excited. I felt I'd written some good songs and this was my shot. I had nothing to lose and it was like the beginning of something."

Springsteen's first "formal" studio audition for CBS took place on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios in New York City. The session consisted of 12 songs. Click on any of the below links for more details.

Four of the tracks recorded during that demo session would be officially released in 1998 on the Tracks box set. John Hammond's introduction of the audition was kept intact at the start of MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS which opens the box set. Hammond was prepared to sign Bruce on the spot but administrative formalities within CBS meant that it would take several weeks for that to become reality. According to Clinton Heylin's 2012 book E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Hammond send Clive Davis a dub of the audition and a memo saying: "Here is a copy of a couple of the reels of Bruce Springsteen, a very talented kid who recorded these twelve songs in a period of around two hours last Wednesday... I think we better act quickly because many people heard the boy at The Gaslight so that his fame is beginning to spread." Davis responded the next day, "I love Bruce Springsteen! He's an original in every respect. I'd like to meet him if you can arrange it."

Springsteen told Mark Hagen, "I knew a lot about John Hammond, the work he'd done, the people he'd discovered, his importance in music and it was very exciting to feel you were worth his time. No matter what happened afterwards, even it was just for this one night, you were worth his time. That meant a lot to me. He was very encouraging – simply being in that room with him at the board was one of my greatest recording experiences."

According to Heylin, Hammond thought that Springsteen might be better off on the Epic subsidiary, but Mike Appel intercepted: "[Hammond] decided that Bruce should be with the younger people at Epic and not with the stodgier, older people at Columbia – and he got this in his head. I always felt that Columbia was the classiest label on the planet. I just always saw [Bruce's] record going round on that red label, just like Dylan's did."

About a week following the audition, Springsteen entered into an "Exclusive Songwriting Contract" with Sioux City Music Inc and a new/revised "Exclusive Management Contract" with Laurel Canyon Management. The two contracts were signed at the office of New York attorney Jules Kurz, a sole practitioner specializing in music and entertainment law who was then handling Appel and Cretecos' business affairs. This new management agreement replaced the one from March and made changes in remuneration and compensation rates between the parties; it was a better deal for Springsteen than the previous one.

Following the signing of the agreements, Springsteen began a series of demo sessions for Sioux City Music Inc in May and June 1972. The session took place at two locations in New York City: Wes Farrell's Pocketful Of Sounds Studios where Appel was then still employed, and the apartment of Jim Cretecos. There were multiple sessions held at each location and the session dates at the two locations may have actually intertwined. Cretecos' apartment was utilized due to the limited availability of the studio at Pocketful Of Sounds. Cretecos was an electronics engineer and was able to emulate a reasonable recording environment in his apartment, so much so that it is difficult to distinguish some of the recordings Bruce made in Cretecos' apartment from those made in a professional studio.

On 09 Jun 1972 Laurel Canyon Productions (describing itself as Laurel Canyon Productions Inc) entered into a recording agreement with CBS Records. This meant that Springsteen was not signed directly to CBS, but his services were subcontracted to CBS by Laurel Canyon. Under the recording agreement, all individual recordings made by Springsteen under the CBS agreement remained the property of Laurel Canyon Productions until such point that they were assigned and transferred to CBS. This contract was signed by CBS at CBS Records offices and by Mike Appel at Laurel Canyon Productions offices. Bruce Springsteen signed it too, on the hood of a car in a dimly lit bar parking lot in New York City. Appel had him sign it as a matter of courtesy and as a matter of endorsement – from a legal standpoint it was not necessary that Springsteen signs this agreement as the "Exclusive Recording Agreement" between him and Laurel Canyon Productions did not grant him the right to block or refuse this contract between Laurel Canyon Productions and CBS. The contract was varied in August 1972 to also cover the master tapes of certain songs which had been recorded prior to the date of the agreement.

Mike Appel and Jimmy Cretecos later decided to change their business structure and model. They wanted to cease the partnership model and incorporate their businesses with the two having a 50/50 split in shares of the new incorporated business entities. These matters did not involve Springsteen – his signature or permission was not required. Laurel Canyon Productions (the sound recordings partnership) became Laurel Canyon Limited (incorporated) on 28 Jun 1972, Sioux City Music Inc (the songwriting partnership) became Sioux City Music Limited (incorporated) on 05 Oct 1972, and Laurel Canyon Management (the management partnership) became Laurel Canyon Management Limited (incorporated) on 05 Mar 1973. The three new companies were incorporated in New York and Appel and Cretecos were appointed the first directors. Appel and Cretecos wanted to change the name of Sioux City to Laurel Canyon in order to have name consistency among their family of companies, so on 24 Apr 1973 Sioux City Music Limited changed its name to Laurel Canyon Music Limited. In January 1974 Jimmy Cretecos sold his 50% shareholding in each of the Laurel Canyon companies to Mike Appel, thus Appel becoming the sole owner of the companies.

Consideration for Release

In early August 1972, the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. album track selection was decided upon, featuring 10 tracks, including JAZZ MUSICIAN, ARABIAN NIGHTS, and VISITATION AT FORT HORN. A copy of the pre-release acetate of Springsteen's first album (with the original 10 tracks) is currently in the possession of biographer Dave Marsh.

It seemed the album was finalized, but when then CBS president Clive Davis listened to the tracks he commented that he felt the album lacked a potential hit single. Springsteen composed two more commercial-sounding songs, BLINDED BY THE LIGHT and SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT, which bumped three solo recordings: JAZZ MUSICIAN, ARABIAN NIGHTS, and VISITATION AT FORT HORN.

Bootleg Releases

This studio version of JAZZ MUSICIAN can be found on The Unsurpassed Springsteen Vol. 4 (Yellow Dog Records) bootleg.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 4 (Yellow Dog Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 4 (Yellow Dog Records)

Live History

As far as it's known, Bruce Springsteen has never performed JAZZ MUSICIAN live.


As far as it's known, only one artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's JAZZ MUSICIAN.

Fred Gorhau -- Before The Fame
Fred Gorhau -- Before The Fame

MC - Pony Express Records (C-0949) - USA, 1995

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album containing covers of 15 early songs. As Fred Gorhau told this website, he was "hired for the weekend to record everything".


Some of the above info about the studio recording is taken from Brucebase. Info and scan for the Fred Gorhau cover album is taken from the Nebraska website.

Available Versions

List of available versions of JAZZ MUSICIAN on this website:

JAZZ MUSICIAN [Studio version #1]
JAZZ MUSICIAN [Studio version #2]
JAZZ MUSICIAN [03 May 1972 demo version take #1]
JAZZ MUSICIAN [03 May 1972 demo version take #2]

Page last updated: 09 Oct 2013