03 May 1972 demo version

[John Hammond (spoken intro):] Bruce and his Steinway, The Angel.

The angel rides with hunch-back children
Poison oozing from his engine
Wieldin' love as a lethal weapon
On his way to hubcap heaven
Baseball cards poked in his spokes
His boots in oil he's patiently soaked
The roadside attendant nervously jokes
As the angel's tires strokes his precious pavement

The interstate's drunk with nomadic hordes
In Volkswagen vans with full running boards dragging great anchors
Followin' dead-end signs into the sores
The angel rides by humpin' his hunk metal whore

Madison Avenue's claim to fame
In a trainer bra with eyes like rain
Rubs against the weather-beaten frame
And asks the angel for his name
Far in the distance the marble dome
Reflects across the flatlands with a naked feel off into parts unknown
The woman strokes his polished chrome
And lies beside the angel's bones


The above lyrics are for the demo of THE ANGEL that was recorded during Springsteen's first studio audition session for CBS Records. The recording took place on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios in New York City, NY. It features Springsteen solo on vocals and acoustic guitar. See the album version for more details about the song and the events surrounding this audition.

The 03 May 1972 Audition

Bruce Springsteen's first "formal" studio audition for CBS took place on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios in New York City. Produced by John Hammond and engineered by Phil Giambalvo, the session consisted of 12 songs (two of them played twice, making a total of 14 tracks); session log information survives and it has been verified that the below-listed recordings encompass the complete session. This so-called "John Hammond Demo Session" was assigned the job number 79682; Hammond's voice is heard on the recording of the audition reading off the session number, "Bruce Springsteen, Columbia Pop audition, job number 79682, Mary Queen Of Arkansas, take 1".

The master Scotch magnetic tape reels from the audition were on display as part of the From Asbury Park To The Promised Land exhibition at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum in Cleveland, OH, along with boxes labeled with running orders:

On the first reel:
Mary Queen of Arkansas (see MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS [take #1] and MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS [take #2])
Saint in the City (see IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY)
Jazz Musician (see JAZZ MUSICIAN [take #1] and JAZZ MUSICIAN [take #2])
If I Was a Priest (see IF I WAS THE PRIEST)
Arabian Nights (see ARABIAN NIGHTS)
On the second reel:
Growin' Up (see GROWIN' UP)
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (see DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?)
Two Hearts in True Waltz Time (see TWO HEARTS IN TRUE WALTZ TIME)
Street Queen (see STREET QUEEN)
Angels (see THE ANGEL)
Southern Sun (see SOUTHERN SUN)
Cowboys of the Seas (see COWBOYS OF THE SEA)

Four tracks from the "John Hammond Demo Session" that were previously officially released in other versions were included on the Tracks box set in 1998. These are: MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS [take #2], IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY, GROWIN' UP, and DOES THIS BUS STOP AT 82ND STREET?.

In his 2012 book E Street Shuffle: The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Clinton Heylin wrote that over the years Hammond would come to insist that their demo was "better than any tape Bruce has made since, because Bruce is [now] so uptight about perhaps overshadowing somebody else in the band." In 1981, he would send Springsteen a copy of the tape as a reminder of what might have been. Springsteen's response was Nebraska.

Bootleg Releases

This 03 May 1972 demo version of THE ANGEL has been circulating on several bootleg releases, including The Early Years Volume Two (Bagel Boys Records) and The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 3 (Yellow Dog Records).

Bruce Springsteen -- The Early Years Volume Two (Bagel Boys Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Early Years Volume Two (Bagel Boys Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 3 (Yellow Dog Records)
Bruce Springsteen -- The Unsurpassed Springsteen Volume 3 (Yellow Dog Records)


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

Available Versions

List of available versions of THE ANGEL on this website:

THE ANGEL [Album version]
THE ANGEL [03 May 1972 demo version]
THE ANGEL [Live 22 Apr 1996 version]
THE ANGEL [Live 22 Nov 2009 version]
THE ANGEL [The BlueBonnets' cover version]

Page last updated: 09 Oct 2013