Live Feb 1988 version
One! Two! Three!
Rainy night down in the engine house
Sleepin' just, just as still as a mouse
And a man come along and chase us out in the rain
Well was that a vigilante man?
Stormy days, we pass the time away
Just a-sleeping in some good warm place
Yeah, then a cop come along, and we give him a little race
Yeah, was that a vigilante man?
Well tell me why does a vigilante man
Well tell me why does a vigilante man
Carry that sawed off shotgun in his hands
Whoa, to shoot his brothers and sisters down, that dirty vigilante man
Well now I ramble around, yeah, from town to town
Yeah, I ramble around from town to town
Yeah and they herd us around like a wild herd of cattle, lord
Hey, was that your vigilante man?
Yeah, tell me why does that vigilante man
Tell me why does that vigilante man
Carry that club in his hands
Would he beat an innocent man down, that no good vigilante man?
Whoa, whoa oh
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa, whoa whoa, whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa
Woo ooh whoa whoa whoa, hmmmmm
Mmm, mmm mmm, mmmmm
The above lyrics are for the live performance of VIGILANTE MAN recorded during the private rehearsals that took place in late January and early February 1988 at Expo Theater in Fort Monmouth, NJ, in preparation for the Tunnel Of Love Express Tour. The song was played in a slow full-band arrangement, featuring Bruce Springsteen on electric guitar and vocals, Nils Lofgren on acoustic guitar, Roy Bittan on piano, Garry Tallent on bass guitar, Max Weinberg on drum, and Patti Scialfa on background vocals. This performance was later released on the A Vision Shared - A Tribute To Woody Guthrie And Leadbelly home video. The exact recording date is unknown but it most probably took place around mid-February 1988.
A Vision Shared - A Tribute To Woody Guthrie And Leadbelly is a various artists benefit documentary and home video in support of Folkways Records and the Woody Guthrie Archives. Narrated by Robbie Robertson, it features interviews with and performances by leading folk, rock, and country recording artists including Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and others. The documentary premiered on Showtime on 17 Sep 1988 and was released as a home video by Columbia Records later that year. It was originally issued on VHS and Laserdisc and in October 2000 it was reissued on DVD.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band recorded two Woody Guthrie songs for the documentary and homes video, I AIN'T GOT NO HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE and VIGILANTE MAN. These were recorded live during the private rehearsals that took place in late January and early February 1988 in preparation for the Tunnel Of Love Express Tour. Toby Scott was the audio engineer. Springsteen also appears on an ensemble studio performance of THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND.
Along with the documentary and home video Columbia Records also released a various artists tribute album that featured studio versions of I AIN'T GOT NO HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE and VIGILANTE MAN. All artist royalties from both the album and video supported Folkways Records and the Woody Guthrie Archives which were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987.
As part of its "Interchords" series, Columbia Records also released a limited US-only promotional album containing the soundtrack of the A Vision Shared - A Tribute To Woody Guthrie And Leadbelly documentary. It includes the same live Feb 1988 versions of I AIN'T GOT NO HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE and VIGILANTE MAN, studio version of THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, and interview excerpts.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.
Some sources claim that the documentary premiered on PBS in October 1988. If you do have any additional information about this matter please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.
List of available versions of VIGILANTE MAN on this website:VIGILANTE MAN [Studio version]