Live 31 Jan 1973 (early show) version
[Spoken intro:] One, two. Can I have the, uh, vocal mic up a little bit, and, uh, maybe guitar too? Alright. I just had a harrowing experience coming up here. I, I stepped in Pepsi Cola, and the bottom of my sneakers are sticking to the rug. That ends the comedy part of the show.
Mary queen of Arkansas, it's not too early for dreamin'
The sky, she's grown with cloud seed sown and a bastard's love can be redeeming
Mary, my queen, your soft hulk is reviving
Oh, you're not too late to desecrate, the servants are just rising
You know I'm just a lonely acrobat, seems this livewire, it's my trade
I've been a shine boy for your acid brats and a wharf rat of your state
Mary, my queen, your blows for freedom, they're missing
Oh, you're not man enough for me to hate or woman enough for kissing
Now this big top, she's for dreamers, but we can take her circus all the way to the border
And the gallows wait for martyrs whose papers are in order
But I was not born to live to die and you were not born for queenin'
It's not too late to infiltrate, the servants are just leavin'
Mary queen of Arkansas, your white skin, it is deceivin'
You wake and wait to lie in bait and you almost got your boy believin'
But on your bed, Mary, I have seen the shadow of a noose
Oh, I don't understand how you can hold me so tight and love me so damn loose
But that's alright, because I know a place where we can go, Mary
Where I can get a good job and start out all over again clean
Oh, I got contacts deep in Mexico where the servants have been seen
[Spoken outro:] Thank you. Thank you very much.
The above lyrics are for the live 31 Jan 1973 (early show) performance of MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS at Max's Kansas City in New York City, NY, during what is considered the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Tour. Springsteen performed the song on acoustic guitar and with an exaggerated, choppy vocal, and was accompanied by and Danny Federici on accordion.
Bruce Springsteen opened for headliner Biff Rose in 1973 during a 6-night stand (from 31 January to 05 February, two shows each night) at Max's Kansas City in New York City, NY.
Soundboard recordings of both shows from the first night are in circulation among collectors. The recording from the early show consists of eight songs (two solo and six with the band) and is believed to be the complete show. The recording from the late show consists of only the first two songs of the show (the solo segment). The remaining setlist for the first night's late show (the band segment), as well as the setlists for the remaining ten shows from this six-night residency, are unknown. In the 17 Feb 1973 issue of Billboard magazine, Jim Melanson wrote a review on one of twelve shows Max's Kansas City mentioning five songs performed by Springsteen. The review could be for any of the twelve shows in the stand, but is more likely from one of the latter ones considering the late publication of the review.
The soundboard recordings from the 31 Jan 1973 shows were commercially released in the UK. Since 2005 some enterprising record labels in the UK have been releasing Bruce Springsteen radio and TV broadcasts (and some soundboard recordings) from the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Though these releases are not authorized by Bruce Springsteen or his record company, they are lawful due to a legal loophole in the UK.
By prior arrangement with Columbia Records and Springsteen's then-manager Mike Appel, the D.I.R. Broadcasting Corp. (New York City, NY) recorded Bruce Springsteen's 31 Jan 1973 early and late shows at Max's Kansas City for use on its upcoming new weekly syndicated radio program called "King Biscuit Flower Hour". The D.I.R. Broadcasting engineers had been in Buffalo two days earlier recording the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the week before that in Dallas recording a Blood Sweat & Tears concert. The radio show used a two to four weeks delayed broadcast formula and made its debut on 18 Feb 1973. The debut episode featured mostly Blood Sweat & Tears who were major stars at this time, only one track by Mahavishnu Orchestra, and only one track by Bruce Springsteen (BISHOP DANCED). D.I.R. Broadcasting still retains in its archives a master tape of the entire 31 Jan 1973 early show and the solo segment from the late show. There are conflicting reports as to whether the company also has any of the band segment from the night's late show.
To celebrate its 500th broadcast, the King Biscuit Flower Hour featured a special episode that aired in two parts, on 15 and 22 Apr 1984. Titled "The 500th Biscuit Celebration", the episode mainly contained selections from the show's past eleven years of recordings, including Springsteen's live 31 Jan 1973 (early show) versions of BISHOP DANCED, MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS, and SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT. Each of the two parts of the episode was distributed to radio stations on a for-radio-play-only two-record set (see scans below).
The company has repeatedly sought and been declined permission to commercially release its recording of the Springsteen show as part of its ongoing King Biscuit Flower Hour archive CD reissue series. The radio show ended in 2007, although new programming ceased in 1993 and previous shows were repeated from that point. During its prime time, the program was carried by more than 300 radio stations throughout the United States. In 2006, the King Biscuit Flower Hour tape archives were acquired by Wolfgang's Vault which began streaming concerts online, including Springsteen's original King Biscuit Flower Hour recording from 31 Jan 1973. Streaming of the Springsteen recording started in February 2008, and is considered to be a considerable improvement in sound quality over what has been circulating on bootlegs.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake). Thanks Domingo (dobama at Greasy Lake) and Stefano for The 500th Biscuit Celebration radio show scans.
Some of the above info about the 31 Jan 1973 shows is taken from Brucebase.
List of available versions of MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS on this website:MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS [Album version]