MAN AT THE TOP

Official studio version


Here comes a fireman, here comes a cop
Here comes a wrench, here comes a car hop
Been going on forever, it ain't ever gonna stop
Everybody wants to be the man at the top

Everybody wants to be the man at the top
Everybody wants to be the man at the top now
Aim your gun, son, and shoot your shot
Everybody wants to be the man at the top

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief
Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief
One thing in common they all got
Everybody wants to be the man at the top, yeah

Everybody wants to be the man at the top
Everybody wants to be the man at the top now
Aim your gun, son, and shoot your shot
Everybody wants to be the man at the top, yeah

(Oh oh alright)
(Oh oh oh yeah)
(Oh oh alright)
(Oh oh oh yeah)

Man at the top says it's lonely up there
If it is, man, I don't care
From the big white house to the parking lot
Everybody wants to be the man at the top

Here comes a banker, here comes a businessman
Here comes a kid with a guitar in his hand
Dreaming of his record in the number one spot
Everybody wants to be the man at the top

Everybody wants to be the man at the top
Everybody wants to be the man at the top now
Aim your gun, son, and shoot your shot
Everybody wants to be the man at the top, yeah

(Oh oh alright)
(Oh oh oh yeah) Alright now
(Oh oh alright) Ah ah ah
(Oh oh oh yeah) Who's the man at the top
(Oh oh alright) Ah ah ah
(Oh oh oh yeah) Who's the man at the top
(Oh oh alright) Oh yeah
(Oh oh oh yeah)
(Oh oh alright) Hmm hmm hmm hmm
(Oh oh oh yeah) Hmm hmm hmm hmm
(Oh oh alright) Hmm hmm hmm hmm
(Oh oh oh yeah) Hmm hmm hmm hmm
(Oh oh alright) Oh yeah
[Fades out]


Info

MAN TA THE TOP is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on the Tracks box set in 1998. The above lyrics are for the official studio version of MAN AT THE TOP as released in 1998.

Studio Recording

According to both the Tracks booklet liner notes and Sony's database of Bruce Springsteen's recording sessions, MAN AT THE TOP was recorded on 12 Jan 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY. Only one studio version of the song has surfaced; the one that was officially released on Tracks.

In his 2012 book E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days Of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Clinton Heylin wrote: "Not sure how he wanted 'Man At The Top' to sound, Springsteen tried it 'fast acoustic' and 'slow acoustic' on January 12. The former, which almost qualifies as country-rock, is presumably the one on Tracks. The slow version provided the template for the couple of times he gave such feelings rein on the BITUSA tour, two of his best acoustic performances of the era."

Tracks

In the liner notes of his Tracks box set, Bruce Springsteen introduces the box set as follows:

During long intervals between my record releases, as I was spending more and more time in the studio, when I met a fan out on the street I was often asked, "What are you guys doing in there?" I regularly pondered that question myself.

What we were doing in there was making a lot of music, a lot more music than I could use at any one time. As a result, my albums became a series of choices – what to include, what to leave out? I based my decisions on my creative point of view at the moment – the subject I was trying to focus on, something musical or emotional I was trying to express. In certain instances, as on Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and The Ghost of Tom Joad, these choices crystallized the album I was making. On some of my other records the reasons I had for choosing one song over another, in hindsight, feel a good deal less significant. One of the results of working like this was that a lot of music, including some of my favorite things, remained unreleased.

This collection contains everything from the first notes I sang in the Columbia recording studio, my early and later work with the E Street Band, through to my music in the 90s. It's the alternate route to some of the destinations I travelled to on my records, an invitation into the studio on the many nights we spent making music in search of the records we presented to you. I'm glad to finally be able to share this music; here are some of the ones that got away.

- Bruce Springsteen, September 1998

Bruce Springsteen's albums were thematically linked even if they were not strictly concept albums; so some tracks that didn't fit the theme of the album ended up orphaned, not necessarily because they didn't meet his high standards, but because, he says, they didn't fit in with the tone or themes he mined for each set. Many of these unreleased studio outtakes got under the hands of bootleggers. Discussing that issue in 1984, Springsteen told Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder, "We record a lot of material, but we just don't release it all. [...] I always tell myself that some day I'm gonna put an album out with all this stuff on it that didn't fit in. I think there's some good material there that should come out. Maybe at some point, I'll do that."

During a break in The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour, Springsteen thought that "if it's gonna be a year or longer in between records, I have all this music that I know is very good that I never released and I should release some of it whether it was just a CD or something. In that period of time, I should put something out because people would like to have it and I'd like to see it get out." He told Toby Scott (his audio archivist and recording engineer), "send me all the archives, send everything that we recorded". Scott then went to work gathering the potential material from Springsteen's massive audio library (located, along with Sony's sound archives, in the high-tech Iron Mountain facility near Buffalo, NY). "For a week or so," he told Billboard in a Nov 1998 interview, "I just listened to everything that I'd done that we hadn't put out. I made some very brief notes in a notebook, and then I just put it away. It was something that I could do at some point when I get to that place in a new project where I'm not sure how long it's going to take and it would be nice to sort of fill the gap so the fans wouldn't be so long without hearing any music from me".

Springsteen told Mark Hagen in an interview for Mojo magazine published in January 1999, "So it began just with that idea and we listened to about 250 songs, maybe more, I made quick notes in a notebook and put it away. A year went by, more maybe, and I came off the Tom Joad tour and I began to write acoustically again and I wrote about half a record. Then I got stuck and said, 'Well, I'm going to put this aside for a while.' Then I wrote half of an electric record, and hit the same place. So I thought, instead of waiting for another year to put something out I'll put some of this music together. So once again I went back to the archives." According to interview comments made by engineer Toby Scott (Springsteen's audio archivist and recording engineer), it was in February 1998 during solo sessions being conducted at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Colts Neck, NJ, that Springsteen told Scott that the time was right to proceed with the long-anticipated box set of archived, unreleased studio takes. Thrill Hill Recording served as the main operational center for all Tracks project activities. Note that the "Thrill Hill Recording" name is used for whatever home studio Springsteen is recording at, whether it's in Rumson, NJ, Colts, NJ, or Beverly Hills, CA.

Springsteen told Billboard that the songs were culled from between 200 and 300 tunes. According to Toby Scott, the number was down to about 128 songs by late June 1998. It was then narrowed down yet again in July to about 100 songs that were prepped for the Tracks release. Although the project was originally projected to be a 6-disc set, there was a commercial decision made later in the summer to reduce the size of the release to a 4-disc (66-track) set. The package was delivered to Sony in mid-September in order to facilitate the mid-November 1998 release schedule.

Unreleased songs from the Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ sessions were not included on the box set due to ongoing and still-unresolved court proceedings involving most of these unreleased 1972 recordings. The court battle wasn't resolved until in 2001 (April 2001 in the UK and June 2001 in the U.S.), and those recordings are now free for release at any time. The opening four tracks of the box set – which were culled from Springsteen's 03 May 1972 Columbia Records audition – were not part of the court proceedings.

The Tracks box set was released on Columbia Records on 10 Nov 1998, issued on both compact disc and audio cassette formats. It's a 4-disc (or 4-cassette) set consisting of a total of 66 tracks (almost 4.5 hours long), 10 of which were heretofore unavailable single B-sides, 6 were demos and alternate versions of already-released material, and 50 (48 studio and 2 live) were never-before-released songs recorded during the sessions for Springsteen's many albums. Some tracks were treated with a recent touch-up here or there to give the older recordings a fresh polish.

  • Disc 1 consists of material from 1972 to 1980, including Springsteen's very first Columbia Records audition for legendary A & R executive John Hammond. This disc also features additional songs most of which recorded for (but never released on) Springsteen's first four albums.
  • Disc 2 consists of material from 1979 to 1983, taken primarily from the recording sessions of The River, Nebraska, and Born In The U.S.A.. Springsteen describes this disc as "almost the completely other album from 'The River'."
  • Disc 3 consists of material from 1982 to 1987, taken primarily from the recording sessions of Born In The U.S.A. and Tunnel Of Love.
  • Disc 4 consists of material from 1989 to 1998, taken primarily from the recording sessions of Human Touch.
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks
Bruce Springsteen -- Tracks

Disc 1 (CD format):

1.MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSASRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
2.IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITYRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
3.GROWIN' UPRecorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
4.DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?Recorded on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios, New York City, NY
5.BISHOP DANCEDRecorded live on 31 Jan 1973 at Max's Kansas City, New York City, NY
6.SANTA ANARecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
7.SEASIDE BAR SONGRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
8.ZERO AND BLIND TERRYRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
9.LINDA LET ME BE THE ONERecorded on 28 Jun 1975 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
10.THUNDERCRACKRecorded on 28 Jun 1973 at 914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, NY
11.RENDEZVOUSRecorded live on 31 Dec 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
12.GIVE THE GIRL A KISSRecorded on 10 Nov 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
13.ICEMANRecorded on 27 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
14.BRING ON THE NIGHTRecorded on 13 Jun 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
15.SO YOUNG AND IN LOVERecorded on 06 Jan 1978 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
16.HEARTS OF STONERecorded on 14 Oct 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
17.DON'T LOOK BACKRecorded on 02 Jul 1977 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY

Disc 2 (CD format):

1.RESTLESS NIGHTSRecorded on 11 Apr 1980 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
2.A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND (PITTSBURGH)Recorded on 05 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
3.ROULETTERecorded on 03 Apr 1978 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
4.DOLLHOUSERecorded on 21 Aug 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
5.WHERE THE BANDS ARERecorded on 09 Oct 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
6.LOOSE ENDSRecorded on 18 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
7.LIVING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLDRecorded on 07 Dec 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
8.WAGES OF SINRecorded on 10 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
9.TAKE 'EM AS THEY COMERecorded on 10 Apr 1980 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
10.BE TRUERecorded on 21 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
11.RICKY WANTS A MAN OF HER OWNRecorded on 16 Jul 1979 at The Record Plant, New York City, NY
12.I WANNA BE WITH YOURecorded on 31 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
13.MARY LOURecorded on 30 May 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
14.STOLEN CARRecorded on 26 Jul 1979 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
15.BORN IN THE U.S.A.Recorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
16.JOHNNY BYE-BYERecorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA
17.SHUT OUT THE LIGHTRecorded in January 1983 at Thrill Hill Recording

Disc 3 (CD format):

1.CYNTHIARecorded on 20 Apr 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
2.MY LOVE WILL NOT LET YOU DOWNRecorded on 05 May 1982 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
3.THIS HARD LANDRecorded on 11 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
4.FRANKIERecorded on 14 May 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
5.TV MOVIERecorded on 13 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
6.STAND ON ITRecorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
7.LION'S DENRecorded on 25 Jan 1982 at The Power Station, New York City, NY
8.CAR WASHRecorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
9.ROCKAWAY THE DAYSRecorded on 03 Feb 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
10.BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGES ('83)Recorded on 04 Sep 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
11.MAN AT THE TOPRecorded on 12 Jan 1984 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
12.PINK CADILLACRecorded on 31 May 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
13.TWO FOR THE ROADRecorded in February 1987 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
14.JANEY, DON'T YOU LOSE HEARTRecorded on 16 Jun 1983 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
15.WHEN YOU NEED MERecorded on 10 Jan 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
16.THE WISHRecorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
17.THE HONEYMOONERSRecorded on 22 Feb 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
18.LUCKY MANRecorded on 04 Apr 1987 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY

Disc 4 (CD format):

1.LEAVIN' TRAINRecorded on 27 Feb 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA
2.SEVEN ANGELSRecorded on 29 Jun 1990 at Oceanway Studios, Los Angeles, CA
3.GAVE IT A NAMERecorded on 24 Aug 1998 at Thrill Hill Recording, Colts Neck, NJ
4.SAD EYESRecorded on 25 Jan 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
5.MY LOVER MANRecorded on 04 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
6.OVER THE RISERecorded on 07 Dec 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
7.WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUTRecorded on 06 Dec 1990 at The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA
8.LOOSE CHANGERecorded on 31 Jan 1991 at Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA
9.TROUBLE IN PARADISERecorded on 01 Dec 1989 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
10.HAPPYRecorded on 18 Jan 1992 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA
11.PART MAN, PART MONKEYRecorded in January 1990 at Soundworks West, Los Angeles, CA
12.GOIN' CALIRecorded on 29 Jan 1991 at A & M Studios, Los Angeles, CA
13.BACK IN YOUR ARMSRecorded on 12 Jan 1995 at The Hit Factory, New York City, NY
14.BROTHERS UNDER THE BRIDGERecorded on 22 May 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording, Beverly Hills, CA

Other Official Releases

In addition to its release on Tracks, the official studio version of MAN AT THE TOP was also included on the Sad Eyes EP in Europe and South Africa.

Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes
Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes

CD EP - Columbia (666884 2) - Austria, 1999

Made in Austria for the European market.

01- SAD EYES
02- MISSING
03- MAN AT THE TOP
05- TAKE 'EM AS THEY COME
Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes
Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes

CD EP - Columbia (CDSIN 332) - South Africa, 1999

01- SAD EYES
02- MISSING
03- MAN AT THE TOP
05- TAKE 'EM AS THEY COME
Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes
Bruce Springsteen -- Sad Eyes

CD single - Columbia (667491 2) - UK, 1999

Withdrawn first commercial UK pressing.

01- SAD EYES
02- I WANNA BE WITH YOU
03- MAN AT THE TOP

Live History

MAN AT THE TOP was performed twice times during the Born In The U.S.A. Tour (156 dates, June 1984 to October 1985), on 12 Jul 1984 in East Troy, WI, and on 05 Aug 1985 in Washington, DC. The song was played in a slowed down acoustic guitar arrangement. See the live 12 Jul 1984 version and the live 05 Aug 1985 version for more details.

MAN AT THE TOP was performed once during the Wrecking Ball Tour (133 dates, March 2012 to September 2013), on 28 Jul 2013 in Kilkenny, Ireland. The song was played in a slowed down acoustic guitar arrangement. See the live 28 Jul 2013 version for more details.

Covers

Very few artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's MAN AT THE TOP.

Richard De Groot -- Man At The Top: Medley Of Springsteen Songs
Richard De Groot -- Man At The Top: Medley Of Springsteen Songs

CD EP - Roulette Records (RR001) - Holland, 1997

This EP contains a cover of MAN AT THE TOP plus a medley consisting of 8 Springsteen covers: BECAUSE THE NIGHT, BORN IN THE U.S.A., BORN TO RUN, DANCING IN THE DARK, FIRE, FOR YOU, MAN AT THE TOP, and THUNDER ROAD. The EP also contains an acoustic version of the medley.
Various artists -- Light Of Day: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen
Various artists -- Light Of Day: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

2xCD - Schoolhouse Records (SHR0022-2) - USA, 2003
3xCD - Good Sounds (DM 797-02) - Spain, 2003
2xCD - Good Sounds (DM 797E-02) - Spain, 2003
2xCD - Revolver (REV XD244) - UK, 2004
2xCD - Sony (MHCP-928/9) - Japan, 2005
2xCD - Sony Records (MHCO 928-929) - Japan, 2007

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. There are six issues of this album (with three track configurations) and this track was included on all six issues listed above. MAN AT THE TOP is performed by Nils Lofgren. See Nils Lofgren's cover version for more details.
Jenny Omnichord -- Days Of Hard Drives: Excavating Ten Years Of Jenny Omnichord
Jenny Omnichord -- Days Of Hard Drives: Excavating Ten Years Of Jenny Omnichord

CD - Label Fantastic! (LF!013) - Canada, 2013
Graziano Romani -- Soul Crusader Again: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen
Graziano Romani -- Soul Crusader Again: The Songs Of Bruce Springsteen

CD - Route 66 Music (RT612017004) - Italy, 2017

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Request

Please contact me if you have scans for or info about any official release containing MAN AT THE TOP that's not mentioned on this page. Please contact me if you have Richard De Groot's Man At The Top: Medley Of Springsteen Songs EP. Any additions, comments, or corrections to this page are welcome. You can contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

Available Versions

List of available versions of MAN AT THE TOP on this website:

MAN AT THE TOP [Official studio version]
MAN AT THE TOP [Live 12 Jul 1984 version]
MAN AT THE TOP [Live 05 Aug 1985 version]
MAN AT THE TOP [Live 28 Jul 2013 version]
MAN AT THE TOP [Nils Lofgren's cover version]

Page last updated: 10 Jan 2016