IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY

Live 07 Jul 1978 version

I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra
I was born blue and weathered but I burst just like a supernova
I could walk like Brando right into the sun
And dance like a Casanova
With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
Silver star studs on my duds like a Harley in heat
When I strut down the street I could feel its heartbeat
The sisters fell back, said, "Don't that man look pretty"
The cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys sure talk gritty
But it's so hard to be a saint
In the city!

I was the king of the alley, I could talk some trash
The prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar's bash
The pimp's main prophet, I kept everything cool
A backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
When the heat came down and it was left on the ground
The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street
Showin' me a hand I knew even the cops couldn't beat
I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat
Ain't it hard to be a saint when you're just a boy

And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
The tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance, hold on by just a thread
It's too hot in these tunnels, you get hit up by the heat
You get up to get out at your next stop, they push you back down in your seat
Your heart starts beatin' faster as you struggle to your feet
And you're out of that hole and back up on the street

South side sisters sure look pretty
Cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys sure talk gritty
Well, it's so hard to be a saint
In the city
So hard, sir

So hard!


Page last updated: 12 Jun 2011

Info

The above lyrics are for the live 07 Jul 1978 performance of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY at The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, CA, during the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour. The song was played in its traditional full-band arrangement.

This concert was originally broadcast live on the now-defunct local KMET-FM radio station, and later became one of the main source concerts for the Live/1975-85 box set which includes eight recordings from this show, including IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY.

The Live/1975-85 Box Set

With the Born In The USA album and tour, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band reached the highest level of rock stardom. Columbia Records was expecting a follow up studio album and tour that would, like it's predecessor, achieve a huge commercial success. Instead, Springsteen released Live/1975-85, an over-three-hours-and-a-half-long live compilation album consisting of 40 tracks recorded at various concerts between 1975 and 1985.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

The set was produced by Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, and Bruce Springsteen, and hit the stores on 10 Nov 1986. It was released as a box set with either five vinyl records, three cassettes, or three CDs. Live/1975-85 is the first album to be credited to "Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band" instead of "Bruce Springsteen" only.

The highly-anticipated live album generated advance orders of more than 1.5 million copies, making it the largest dollar-volume pre-order in the history of the record business at the time. Record stores around the country found fans waiting in line on Monday morning before opening and one New York store reportedly sold the album right off the back of the delivery truck. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard album chart and also became the first five-record set to reach the top 10 and the first to sell over a million copies. Live/1975-85 is the second-best-selling live album in U.S. history based on RIAA certification. It has been certified by the RIAA for 13 times platinum, trailing only Garth Brooks' Double Live.

Live/1975-85 disc 1 track list (CD format):

1.THUNDER ROADRecorded live on 18 Oct 1975 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
2.ADAM RAISE A CAINRecorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
3.SPIRIT IN THE NIGHTRecorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
4.4TH OF JULY, ASBURY PARK (SANDY)Recorded live on 31 Dec 1980 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
5.PARADISE BY THE CRecorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
6.FIRERecorded live on 16 Dec 1978 at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
7.GROWIN' UPRecorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
8.IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITYRecorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
9.BACKSTREETSRecorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
10.ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT)Recorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
11.RAISE YOUR HANDRecorded live on 07 Jul 1978 at The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood, CA
12.HUNGRY HEARTRecorded live on 28 Dec 1980 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
13.TWO HEARTSRecorded live on 08 Jul 1981 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ

Live/1975-85 disc 2 track list (CD format):

1.CADILLAC RANCHRecorded live on 06 Jul 1981 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
2.YOU CAN LOOK (BUT YOU BETTER NOT TOUCH)Recorded live on 29 Dec 1980 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
3.INDEPENDENCE DAYRecorded live on 06 Jul 1981 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
4.BADLANDSRecorded live on 05 Nov 1980 at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
5.BECAUSE THE NIGHTRecorded live on 28 Dec 1980 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
6.CANDY'S ROOMRecorded live on 08 Jul 1981 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
7.DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWNRecorded live on 29 Dec 1980 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
8.RACING IN THE STREETRecorded live on 06 Jul 1981 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
9.THIS LAND IS YOUR LANDRecorded live on 28 Dec 1980 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
10.NEBRASKARecorded live on 06 Aug 1984 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
11.JOHNNY 99Recorded live on 19 Aug 1985 at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
12.REASON TO BELIEVERecorded live on 19 Aug 1984 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
13.BORN IN THE USARecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
14.SEEDSRecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA

Live/1975-85 disc 3 track list (CD format):

1.THE RIVERRecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
2.WARRecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
3.DARLINGTON COUNTYRecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
4.WORKING ON THE HIGHWAYRecorded live on 19 Aug 1985 at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
5.THE PROMISED LANDRecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
6.COVER MERecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
7.I'M ON FIRERecorded live on 19 Aug 1985 at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
8.BOBBY JEANRecorded live on 21 Aug 1985 at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
9.MY HOMETOWNRecorded live on 30 Sep 1985 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
10.BORN TO RUNRecorded live on 19 Aug 1985 at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
11.NO SURRENDERRecorded live on 06 Aug 1984 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
12.TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUTRecorded live on 20 Aug 1984 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
13.JERSEY GIRLRecorded live on 09 Jul 1981 at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ

Other Official Releases

The live 07 Jul 1978 version of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY can also be found on one Bruce Springsteen promo-only sampler.


Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Live 1975-1985 Digest CD

CD-R – Sony (no catalogue number) – Japan, 2005

Japan-only promotional "Digest" CD-R advance sampler tying in with the release of the Japanese 2005 "mini-LP"-style CD album reissue of Live/1975-85. This disc comes in a plain slimline jewel case with no artwork.

Available Versions

List of available versions of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY on this website:

Credits

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake).