MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS
03 May 1972 demo version take #1
[Male voice #1 (spoken):] Okay.
[Male voice #2 (spoken):] Stand by.
[Male voice #2 (spoken):] All right, we're, uh, all right, we're rolling.
Mary queen of Arkansas, your white skin is deceiving
Oh, you wake and wait to lie in bait but you ain't good enough to keep me from leavin'
Because on your bed, Mary, I can see the shadow of a noose
I don't understand how you can hold me so tight and love me so loose
And I know a place where we can go, Mary
Where I can get a good job, start out all over again clean
Oh, I got contacts deep in Mexico where the servants have been seen
[Male voice #2:] Great, we got it that time. Right. Stand by.
Page last updated: 30 May 2011
The above lyrics are for the demo (first take) of MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS that was
recorded during Springsteen's first studio audition session for CBS Records. This was actually an
abandoned test take. The recording took place on 03 May 1972 at CBS Studios in New York City, NY.
See the album version for more details about 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:
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
This 03 May 1972 abandoned first take of MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS, along with the
second and complete take from the same session (see the
03 May 1972 demo version take #2), has
been circulating on a few bootleg releases, including The Early Years Volume Two (Bagel
List of available versions of MARY QUEEN OF ARKANSAS on this website:
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.