Album version

Come to the door, Ma, and unlock the chain
I was just passing through and got caught in the rain
There's nothing I want, nothing that you need say
Just let me lie down for a while and then I'll be on my way

I was no more than a kid when you put me on the Southern Queen
With the police on my back I fled to New Orleans
I fought in the dockyards and with the money that I made
And the fight was my home and blood was my trade

Baton Rouge, Ponchatoula, and Lafayette town
Well they paid me their moon, Ma, I knocked the men down
I did what I did well it come easily
Restraint and mercy, Ma, were always strangers to me

I fought champion Jack Thompson in a field full of mud
Rain poured through the tent to the canvas and mixed with our blood
In the twelfth I slipped my tongue over my broken jaw
And I stood over him, pounded his bloody body into the floor
Well the bell rang and rang and still I kept on
'Till I felt my glove leather slip 'tween his skin and bone

Then the women and the money came fast, in the days I lost track
The women red, the money green, but the numbers were black
I fought for the men in their silk suits to lay down their bets
Well I took my good share, Ma, I had no regrets

Then I took the fix at the state armory with big John McDowell
From high in the rafters I watched myself fall
As they raised his arm, my stomach twisted and the sky it went black
I stuffed my bag with their good money and I never looked back

Understand, in the end, Ma, every man plays the game
If you know me one different then speak out his name
Ma, if my voice now you don't recognize
Then just open the door and look into your dark eyes
I ask of you nothing, not a kiss not a smile
Just open the door and let me lie down for a while

Now the gray rain's falling and my ring fighting's done
So in the work fields and alleys I take all who'll come
If you're a better man than me then just step to the line
And show me your money and speak out your crime
Now there's nothing I want, Ma, nothing that you need say
Just let me lie down for a while and I'll be on my way

Well tonight in the shipyard a man draws a circle in the dirt
Like I always do
I move to the centre and I take off my shirt
I study him for the cuts, the scars, the pain
Man, no time can erase
I move hard to the left and I strike to the face



THE HITTER is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 2005 album Devils & Dust. The above lyrics are for Bruce Springsteen's album version of THE HITTER as released in 2005.

Composition and Recording


On this track, Bruce Springsteen sings vocals and plays guitar, keyboards, and percussion, and is accompanied by Nashville String Machine on strings, and Bruce Andrus, Donald Strand, Susan Welty, and Thomas Witte on horns.

Devils & Dust

Devils & Dust is Bruce Springsteen's thirteenth studio album. It was released on 26 Apr 2005 on Columbia Records. The album was recorded between 1996 and 2004 at Thrill Hill East (Springsteen's home studio in Rumson, NJ) and Thrill Hill West (Springsteen's home studio in Los Angeles, CA). Horns and some instrument overdubbing were recorded in 2004 at Southern Tracks in Atlanta, GA. Strings were recorded in 2004 at Masterfonics in Nashville, TN.

ALL THE WAY HOME and LONG TIME COMIN' were produced by Brendan O'Brien, Bruce Springsteen, and Chuck Plotkin. The rest of the album was produced by Brendan O'Brien. All horn and string arrangements were done by Eddie Horst. BLACK COWBOYS, JESUS WAS AN ONLY SON, LEAH, and MATAMOROS BANKS were mixed by Toby Scott. The rest of the album was mixed by Brendan O'Brien. Toby Scott was the recording engineer at Thrill Hill East, Thrill Hill West, and Southern Tracks, and Nick Didia was the recording engineer at Southern Tracks and Masterphonics.

The album includes a bonus DVD featuring filmed acoustic performances of DEVILS & DUST, LONG TIME COMIN', RENO, ALL I'M THINKIN' ABOUT, and MATAMOROS BANKS, with spoken commentary on their writing and creation. They were filmed live by director Danny Clinch in February 2005 in New Jersey. The DVD also includes the full album in 5.1 surround sound and in 2-channel stereo, with lyrics to the songs accompanying the audio in a karaoke style.

Bruce Springsteen -- Devils & Dust
Bruce Springsteen -- Devils & Dust

Devils & Dust debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, becoming Springsteen's seventh number one album in the U.S. It also peaked at number one in several European countries including the UK. The album was nominated for two 2006 Grammy Awards, Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Long Form Music Video, but failed to win.

The album features 12 tracks and clocks at 50:55. It was issued on DualDisc, CD + DVD, and LP.

Other Official Releases


Other versions of THE HITTER were also officially released.

Bruce Springsteen -- Schottenstein Center, Ohio 2005
The live 31 Jul 2005 version of THE HITTER was released on the Schottenstein Center, Ohio 2005 official live download in 2015.

Live History




Available Versions

List of available versions of THE HITTER on this website:

THE HITTER [Album version]
THE HITTER [Live 13 Nov 1996 version]
THE HITTER [Live 28 Apr 2005 version]

Page last updated: 04 Oct 2016