NEW YORK CITY SERENADE

Album version


Billy, he's down by the railroad tracks
Sitting low in the back seat of his Cadillac
Diamond Jackie, she's so intact
And she falls so softly beneath him
Jackie's heels are stacked
Billy's got cleats on his boots
Together they're gonna boogaloo down Broadway
And come back home with the loot
It's midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute, it's a mad dog's promenade
So walk tall
Or baby, don't walk at all

Fish lady, oh, fish lady, fish lady, she baits them tenement walls
She won't take corner boys, they ain't got no money, and they're so easy
I said, "Hey, babe, ah, baby, won't you take my hand, waltz with me down Broadway"
Whoa, mama, take my arm and move with me down Broadway, yeah
I'm a young man, I'm talkin' real loud, yeah, baby, walk it real proud for you
Ah, so shake it away, so shake away your street life, shake away the city life
And hook up to the train, ah, hook up to the night train
Ah, hook it up, hook up to the, hook up to the train
But I know that she won't take the train, no, she won't take the train
No, she won't take the train, no, she won't take the train
Oh, she won't take the train, no, she won't take the train
Oh, she won't take the train, no, she won't take the train
She's afraid them tracks are gonna slow her down
And when she turns, this boy'll be gone
So long
Sometimes you just gotta walk on
Walk on

Hey, vibes man, hey, jazz man, ah, play me a serenade
Any deeper blue, you'll be playin' in your grave
Save your notes: don't spend 'em on the blues boy
Save your notes: don't spend 'em on the darlin' yearlin' sharp boy
Straight from the church note ringin', vibes man sting a trash can
Listen to your junkman
Ah, listen to your junkman
Listen to your junkman
Oh, listen to your junkman
He's singin' (singin')
He's singin' (singin')
He's singin' (singin')
All dressed up in satin, walkin' down the alley (singin')
Singin', singin', sing, yeah, sing, yeah, singin', singin', singin', yeah, sing, yeah
(Singin', singin', singin') Ooh, ooh, ooh, oh, yeah
(Singin', singin', singin') Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, oh, yeah
Ah, shake it, downtown, watch it, oh, watch out for your junkman
Shake it, watch out, bah, ah, ah, watch out for your junkman
Ah, shake that guitar, shake that damn guitar, ah, watch out for your junkman
Ah, shake, talkin' 'bout it, ah, ah, come on, little girl
Watch out
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Oh, ah, yeah
Oh, huh, oh, huh
Shake that damn guitar
Ah, watch out for your junkman
Oh, yeah
Oh, yeah
Watch out for your junkman
Uh, huh, uh, uh
Uh, uh, huh, huh, huh
Watch out for your junkman
Oh, watch out for your junkman


Info

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 1973 album The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle. The above lyrics are for Bruce Springsteen's album version of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE as released in 1973.

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE is one of Springsteen's lengthiest studio tracks, clocking at 9:55.

Composition and Recording

Bruce Springsteen wrote NEW YORK CITY SERENADE in June or early July 1973. He created it by merging his early 1972 composition VIBES MAN and his early 1973 composition NEW YORK SONG. NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was recorded during the early part of the second phase of The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle recording sessions (see below section).

The band line-up on this track is Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Danni Federici, Garry Tallent, Vini Lopez, and David Sancious, plus Richard Blackwell on conga. The track, as well as the whole album, was recorded at Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY, and produced by Mike Appel and Jimmy Cretecos.

To reach the desired sound effect, Richard Blackwell licked his finger and rubbed it across the top of the conga. A string section was not used on the studio recording of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE. Instead, David Sancious, who's credited for "string arrangement" on the track, used a Mellotron that the band rented from Carroll Music in Manhattan. Vini Lopez provided backing vocals, clapping (as did whoever was in the studio), played tambourine, triangle, and conga. "When the boys started to record this song, they found that the timing was off," Lopez explained. "So they put me with a conga drum under a foot of padding so the sound wouldn't be picked up by the other instrument mikes. I was the click track. As you can hear, the sound of the conga did bleed into everything else. They couldn't get it out."

According to Albee Tellone, sound manager on Springsteen's road crew from November 1972 to December 1973, Sancious "pieced together [the piano] intro out of stuff he learned on the way up. He was classically trained at some point of his life but he liked to play jazz and blues. You can hear how he combined a well known classical piece with some bluesy piano riffs sprinkled with jazz chords. He starts out strumming the piano strings with a guitar pick while holding down chords with his left hand. I watched him do it in the studio and on stage." He goes on to say that "Bruce admired David's ability so much that he allowed him a ton of creative room in that band. The two of them rehearsed separately from the rest of the band in David's living room on his piano." Vini Lopez recalled that "David came up with the idea for that [piano] intro. Hold the notes down on the keyboard then strum the strings." Sancious would do the same when playing the song live on tour.

The original recording of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE lacked strings, group vocals, and Richard Blackwell's conga. See the original studio version for more details.

The lyric "Billy's got cleats on his boots" is similar to one used in JESSE.

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle is Bruce Springsteen's second studio album. It was recorded between mid-May 1973 and mid-September 1973 at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY. Studio time was slotted in during various itinerary breaks in the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Tour, but recording sessions dragged on much longer than originally anticipated and this eventually caused some gig rescheduling and cancellations during the period from July to September 1973.

The album's recording sessions can be split into distinct phases:

  • The first phase of sessions took place on 15-22 May and 17-20 June, and featured the then-touring line-up of Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, Garry Tallent, and Vini Lopez. Neither David Sancious nor any other musicians were involved in these initial sessions.
  • The second phase of sessions took place on 26 June-02 July, 11-16 July, 04-12 August, and 10-25 September, and included all of the above-mentioned musicians, plus new E Street Band member David Sancious (who joined in on 22 June), as well as niche session contributions by Suki Lahav on vocals, Richard Blackwell on congas and percussion, and Albee Tellone on baritone sax.

Most of the basic ensemble recording of The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle emanates from the first phase of sessions, prior to the arrival of David Sancious to the sessions on 22 Jun 1973. Sancious verified in a late seventies interview with Thunder Road magazine that most of the session songs had already been recorded (as basic tracks) by the time he joined. He then overdubbed his parts onto these recordings. THE E STREET SHUFFLE is an exception, which was written after Sancious became a member of the band. The latter phase of the sessions involved embellishing additional "frills" instrumentation, vocals, and experimenting with different mixes. No audio evidence has yet emerged that any of the basic recordings of were re-recorded from scratch with Sancious. Indeed, one of the most noteworthy aspects to the audio evidence that has emerged from the The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle recording sessions is that there is not one genuine alternate take to be found – all song recording variations are merely alternate mixes of the same basic recording.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
Bruce Springsteen -- The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle was produced by Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos and engineered by Louis Lahav. It features 7 new Springsteen compositions and clocks at 46:47. It was commercially released on 05 Nov 1973.

Other Official Releases

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE can also be found on two Bruce Springsteen promo-only samplers.

Bruce Springsteen -- Last American Hero From Asbury Park, N.J. (sampler cover art)
Bruce Springsteen -- Last American Hero From Asbury Park, N.J.

LP – CBS/Sony (YAPC 95) – Japan, 1978

Japan-only promotional LP sampler issued to promote Springsteen's fourth album Darkness On The Edge Of Town, though strangely including tracks from his first three albums only. This is one of the rarest Springsteen records ever.
Bruce Springsteen -- Ballads Vol. 1 (1973 - 1982)
Bruce Springsteen -- Ballads Vol. 1 (1973 - 1982)

CD-R - Sony (no catalog number) - Japan, 2005

Japan-only promotional "Digest" CDR advance sampler tying in with the release of the first six Japanese 2005 "mini-LP"-style Springsteen CD album reissues. This disc comes in a plain slimline jewel case with no artwork.

Other versions of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE were also officially released.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Ippodromo Delle Capannelle, Rome 2013
The live 11 Jul 2013 version of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was released on the Ippodromo Delle Capannelle, Rome 2013 official live download in 2015.
live.brucespringsteen.net
Audio recordings for most High Hopes Tour shows were officially released on live.brucespringsteen.net. These include one version of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE.

  1. 26 Feb 2014 at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia

Live History

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE is known to have been performed at least 5 times during what is considered the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Tour (October 1972 to September 1973). Many of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates during the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Tour. On this tour, the song was played in a full-band, album-esque version with early/developing lyrics and featured David Sancious playing the string part on a rented Mellotron (see the live 23 Jul 1973 (early show) version and live 31 Jul 1973 (late show) version).

  1. 18 Jul 1973 (late show) at Max's Kansas City, New York City, NY
  2. 22 Jul 1973 (early show) at Max's Kansas City, New York City, NY
  3. 23 Jul 1973 (early show) at Max's Kansas City, New York City, NY
  4. 31 Jul 1973 (late show) at My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY
  5. 08 Sep 1973 at University Of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE is known to have been performed at least 54 times during what is considered The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour (September 1973 to March 1975). Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates during The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour. Between October 1973 and February 1974, the song featured David Sancious on piano (including the introduction, which over the course of the tour became more and more of an improvisational vehicle for Sancious) and Vini Lopez on drums and was played in a full-band, album-esque arrangement (see the live 17 Nov 1973 version and the live 06 Jan 1974 version). Between March and August 1974, the song featured David Sancious on piano (including the introduction) and Ernest "Boom" Carter on drums and was played first in a more acoustic-oriented partial-band arrangement (see the live 03 Mar 1974 (late show) version) and then gradually evolved (see the live 09 May 1974 (early show) version) into an extended arrangement with the "slip away" coda (see the live 13 Jul 1974 version). In September 1974, the song featured Roy Bittan on piano and Max Weinberg on drums (only one such performance is know, but no audio is in circulation). Between October 1974 and March 1975, the song featured Roy Bittan on piano, Max Weinberg on drums, and Suki Lahav on violin, and was played in a majestic extended full-band arrangement with the "slip away" coda and a full-band, violin-led introduction (see the live 29 Oct 1974 version and the live 05 Feb 1975 version).

  1. 20 Oct 1973 at Franklin Pierce College, Rindge, NH
  2. 26 Oct 1973 at Geneva Theatre, Geneva, NY
  3. 30 Oct 1973 (late show) at The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA
  4. 31 Oct 1973 (late show) at The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA
  5. 17 Nov 1973 at Roxy Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
  6. 25 Nov 1973 at University Of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
  7. 15 Dec 1973 at Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY
  8. 06 Jan 1974 at Joe's Place, Cambridge, MA
  9. 25 Jan 1974 at The Mosque, Richmond, VA
  10. 26 Jan 1974 at Chrysler Hall, Norfolk, VA
  11. 12 Feb 1974 at University Of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
  12. 03 Mar 1974 (early show) at Georgetown University, Washington, DC
  13. 03 Mar 1974 (late show) at Georgetown University, Washington, DC
  14. 09 Mar 1974 (late show) at Liberty Hall, Houston, TX
  15. 10 Mar 1974 (early show) at Liberty Hall, Houston, TX
  16. 16 Mar 1974 at Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX
  17. 24 Mar 1974 at Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ
  18. 05 Apr 1974 at Widener College, Chester, PA
  19. 06 Apr 1974 at Burlington County College, Pemberton, NJ
  20. 09 Apr 1974 (early show) at Charlie's Place, Cambridge, MA
  21. 10 Apr 1974 (early show) at Charlie's Place, Cambridge, MA
  22. 10 Apr 1974 (late show) at Charlie's Place, Cambridge, MA
  23. 26 Apr 1974 at Brown University, Providence, RI
  24. 04 May 1974 at Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
  25. 09 May 1974 (early show) at Harvard Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA
  26. 09 May 1974 (late show) at Harvard Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA
  27. 24 May 1974 at War Memorial Theatre, Trenton, NJ
  28. 01 Jun 1974 at Kent State University, Kent, OH
  29. 21 Jun 1974 at Le Garage, Spray Beach, NJ
  30. 13 Jul 1974 at The Bottom Line, New York City, NY
  31. 25 Jul 1974 at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA
  32. 30 Jul 1974 at The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA
  33. 14 Aug 1974 (late show) at Monmouth Arts Center, Red Bank, NJ
  34. 20 Sep 1974 at Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA
  35. 04 Oct 1974 at Avery Fisher Hall, New York City, NY
  36. 12 Oct 1974 at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  37. 18 Oct 1974 at Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ
  38. 19 Oct 1974 at Union College, Schenectady, NY
  39. 20 Oct 1974 at Dickinson College , Carlisle, PA
  40. 26 Oct 1974 at Julia Sanderson Theater, Springfield, MA
  41. 29 Oct 1974 at Music Hall, Boston, MA
  42. 01 Nov 1974 at Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA
  43. 08 Nov 1974 at Ritz Music Hall, Corpus Christi, TX
  44. 16 Nov 1974 at American University, Washington, DC
  45. 23 Nov 1974 at Salem State College, Salem, MA
  46. 29 Nov 1974 at War Memorial Theatre, Trenton, NJ
  47. 06 Dec 1974 at State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ
  48. 07 Dec 1974 at Geneva Theatre, Geneva, NY
  49. 08 Dec 1974 at Burlington Memorial Auditorium, Burlington, VT
  50. 05 Feb 1975 at The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA
  51. 06 Feb 1975 at Widener College, Chester, PA
  52. 19 Feb 1975 at Penn State University, University Park, PA
  53. 23 Feb 1975 at Westbury Music Fair, Westbury, NY
  54. 08 Mar 1975 at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE is known to have been performed at least 12 times during the Born To Run Tour (73 know dates / 81 known shows, July to December 1975), all in July and August 1975. Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song may have been played on some more dates during the Born To Run Tour. On this tour, the song was played in a majestic full band arrangement much like the one played at the end of The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour, but without violin, featuring the "slip away" coda and a full band introduction (see the live 22 Jul 1975 version).

  1. 20 Jul 1975 at Palace Concert Theatre, Providence, RI
  2. 22 Jul 1975 at Geneva Theatre, Geneva, NY
  3. 25 Jul 1975 at Kutztown State College, Kutztown, PA
  4. 26 Jul 1975 at Kutztown State College, Kutztown, PA
  5. 28 Jul 1975 at Carter Barron Amphitheatre, Washington, DC
  6. 30 Jul 1975 at Carter Barron Amphitheatre, Washington, DC
  7. 01 Aug 1975 at Mosque Theatre, Richmond, VA
  8. 02 Aug 1975 at Chrysler Hall, Norfolk, VA
  9. 08 Aug 1975 at Akron Civic Theatre, Akron, OH
  10. 10 Aug 1975 at Allen Theatre, Cleveland, OH
  11. 13 Aug 1975 (late show) at Bottom Line, New York City, NY
  12. 15 Aug 1975 (late show) at Bottom Line, New York City, NY

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was performed 5 times during what is known as The Reunion Tour (132 dates, April 1999 to July 2000). On this tour, the song was played in a full-band arrangement featuring a new piano introduction by Roy Bittan (see the live 20 Jun 2000 version).

  1. 11 Aug 1999 at Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
  2. 27 Aug 1999 at Fleet Center, Boston, MA
  3. 25 Sep 1999 at First Union Center, Philadelphia, PA
  4. 30 Sep 1999 at United Center, Chicago, IL
  5. 20 Jun 2000 at Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was performed once during The Rising Tour (120 dates, August 2002 to October 2003). The song was played in a full-band arrangement featuring a piano introduction by Roy Bittan and a major performance by Soozie Tyrell on violin (see the live 03 Oct 2003 version).

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was performed once during the Working On A Dream Tour (83 dates, April to November 2009), on 07 Nov 2009 in New York City, NY. The song was played in a full-band arrangement including an album-style piano introduction played by Roy Bittan and featuring guests Richard Blackwell on conga and Sam Bardfeld's eight-piece string section playing the album string arrangement. See the live 07 Nov 2009 version.

  1. 07 Nov 2009 at Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY (complete The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle album performed)

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was performed once during the Wrecking Ball Tour (133 dates, March 2012 to September 2013), on 11 Jul 2013 in Rome, Italy. The song was played in a full-band arrangement including an album-style piano introduction played by Roy Bittan and featuring a string section of seven violins from Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra. The live 11 Jul 2013 version of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was released on the Ippodromo Delle Capannelle, Rome 2013 official live download in 2015.

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE was performed once during the High Hopes Tour (34 dates, January to May 2014), on 26 Feb 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. The song was played in a full-band arrangement featuring Australian string section Cooper + Koo. Audio recordings for most High Hopes Tour shows are officially available for purchase. See the live 26 Feb 2014 version for more details.

  1. 26 Feb 2014 at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia (complete The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle album performed)

Covers

Very few artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's NEW YORK CITY SERENADE.

Pete Yorn -- Musicforthemorningafter
Pete Yorn -- Musicforthemorningafter

CD - Columbia (503323 9) - Europe, 2001
CD - Columbia (CK 86244) - USA, 2002

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE is only available as a bonus track on expanded reissues of the album. The song was also released on a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album. See Pete Yorn's cover version for more details.
Lore Constantine -- Piano Expressions
Lore Constantine -- Piano Expressions

CD - CD Baby (318141) - USA, 2008
Andrew Nicholson -- Driving All Night: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen Volume II
Andrew Nicholson -- Driving All Night: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen Volume II

CD - no label (no catalog number) - UK, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.
Carolyne Mas -- Across The River
Carolyne Mas -- Across The River

CD - Route 61 (RT612013005) - Italy, 2013

According to Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen was supposed to join her for a rendition of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE during her episode of MTV Unplugged which she taped on 04 Jul 2005, but it did not work out. "I was going to cry," she told Billboard. "Bruce and I were going to do 'New York City Serenade' but the schedule just conflicted.

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for all the help on this page and Albee Tellone for his firs-hand account on the studio recording of the track.

Some of the above info about the studio recording and the live performances is taken from Brucebase.

Available Versions

List of available versions of NEW YORK CITY SERENADE on this website:

NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Album version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Original studio version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 23 Jul 1973 (early show) version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 31 Jul 1973 (late show) version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 17 Nov 1973 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 06 Jan 1974 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 03 Mar 1974 (late show) version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 09 May 1974 (early show) version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 13 Jul 1974 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 29 Oct 1974 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 05 Feb 1975 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 22 Jul 1975 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 20 Jun 2000 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 03 Oct 2003 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 07 Nov 2009 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 11 Jul 2013 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Live 26 Feb 2014 version]
NEW YORK CITY SERENADE [Pete Yorn's cover version]

Page last updated: 09 May 2016