Live 18 Nov 2006 version
Well they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late that month
Ralph went out looking for a job but he couldn't find none
He came home too drunk from mixing Tanqueray and wine
Got a gun, shot a night clerk, now they call him Johnny 99
Down in the part of town where when you hit a red light you don't stop
Johnny's waving his gun around, threatening to blow his top
When an off-duty cop snuck up on him from behind
Out in front of the Club Tip Top they slapped the cuffs on Johnny 99
The city supplied a public defender but the judge was Mean John Brown
He came into the courtroom, stared young Johnny down
The evidence is clear, gonna let the sentence son fit the crime
Prison for 98 and a year we'll call it even, Johnny 99
Well a fistfight broke out in the courtroom, they had to drag Johnny's girl away
His mama stood up and shouted, "Judge, don't take my boy this way"
Son you got any statement you'd like to make
Before the bailiff comes to forever take you away
Now judge, judge, I had debts no honest man could pay
The bank was holding my mortgage, they taking my house away
Well now I ain't saying that makes me an innocent man
It was more and all this, judge, that put that gun in my hand
Well your honor I do believe I'd be better off dead
If you can take a man's life for the thoughts that's in his head
Then sit back in that chair and think it over, Judge, one more time
Let 'em shave off my hair and put me on that killing line
[Spoken outro:] Yes indeed! The mighty Sessions horn section right there!
The above lyrics are for the live 19 Nov 2006 performance of JOHNNY 99 at Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, during The Seeger Sessions Tour. The song was played in a radically revamped full-band arrangement.
The live 18 Nov 2006 version of JOHNNY 99 was exclusively released on the Bruce Springsteen With The Sessions Band PBS Exclusive EP in 2007.
List of available versions of JOHNNY 99 on this website:JOHNNY 99 [Album version]