Home demo version 2

They closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late last 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 at a red light mister you don't stop
He was waving his gun around and screaming he was gonna blow his top
When an off-duty cop snuck up on Johnny from behind
In front of the Club Tip Top – the Tip Top Club they slapped the cuffs on Johnny 99

The city supplied a public defender but the judge was Mean John Brown
He walked into the courtroom and stared poor Johnny down
Well the evidence is clear gonna let the sentence son fit the crime
Gonna be dead in the chair we'll call it even, Johnny 99

A fight broke out in the courtroom they had to drag Johnny's dad away
His mama stood up and shouted, "Judge, don't take my boy this way"
"Well I'm sorry Ma'am but the law must be satisfied
At your son's murdering hands an honest man died"

Na na na na na, na na na na
Na na na na na, na na na na
Na na na na na, na na na na
Na na na na, na na na na

"Is there anything son you want to say
Before the bailiff comes and takes you away"
Judge I worked the assembly line since I was 18
The bank had held my mortgage and they were coming down hard on me
Now I ain't saying that makes me an innocent man
There was more than all this that put that gun in my hand

Well your honor I do believe I'm better off dead
If you can take a man's life for the thoughts that's running in his head
Then I want to thank you judge for making me, making me a dead man
'Cause I shot that corn boy, I shot him judge and I ran


The above lyrics are for an acoustic home demo take of JOHNNY 99 recorded, according to Brucebase, at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Colts Neck, NJ, following the end of The River Tour, sometime between mid-September 1981 and May 1982, but most probably in 1981. See also the home demo version 1.

Both circulating home demo takes of JOHNNY 99 can be found on the Fistfull Of Dollars (E. St. Records) bootleg.

Bruce Springsteen -- Fistfull Of Dollars (E Street Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- Fistfull Of Dollars (E Street Records)


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

Available Versions

List of available versions of JOHNNY 99 on this website:

JOHNNY 99 [Album version]
JOHNNY 99 [Home demo version 1]
JOHNNY 99 [Home demo version 2]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 21 Sep 1984 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 19 Aug 1985 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 18 Nov 2006 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 28 Jun 2009 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Live 21 Sep 2009 version]
JOHNNY 99 [Johnny Cash's cover version]

Page last updated: 25 May 2014