INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET

Album version

Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night
With bruised arms and broken rhythm in a beat-up old Buick but dressed just like dynamite
He tried sellin' his heart to the hard girls over on Easy Street
But they sighed, "Johnny, it falls apart so easy and you know hearts these days are cheap"
And the pimps swung their axes and said, "Johnny, you're a cheater"
Well, the pimps swung their axes and said, "Johnny, you're a liar"
And from out of the shadows came a young girl's voice
Said, "Johnny, don't cry"
Puerto Rican Jane, oh, won't you tell me what's your name
I want to drive you down to the other side of town
Where paradise ain't so crowded, there'll be action goin' down on Shanty Lane tonight
All them golden heeled fairies in a real bitch fight pull thirty-eights and kiss the girls goodnight

Oh, goodnight, it's all right, Jane
Now let them black boys in to light the soul flame
We may find it out on the street tonight, baby
Or we may walk until the daylight, maybe

Well, like a cool Romeo he made his moves, ah, she looked so fine
And like a late Juliet she knew he'd never be true, but then she didn't really mind
Upstairs a band was playin', the singer was singin' something about going home
She whispered, "Spanish Johnny, you can leave me tonight, but just don't leave me alone"
And Johnny cried, "Puerto Rican Jane, word is down the cops have found the vein"
Well, them barefoot boys, they left their homes for the woods
Them little barefoot street boys, they said homes ain't no good
They left the corners, threw away all of their switchblade knives
And kissed each other goodbye

Johnny was sittin' on the fire escape watchin' the kids playin' down in the street
He called down, "Hey, little heroes, summer's long, but I guess it ain't very sweet around here anymore"
Janey sleeps in sheets damp with sweat; Johnny sits up alone and watches her dream on, dream on
And the sister prays for lost souls, then breaks down in the chapel after everyone's gone
Jane moves over to share her pillow but opens her eyes to see Johnny up and putting his clothes on
She says, "Those romantic young boys (those romantic young boys), all they ever want to do is fight"
Those romantic young boys (those romantic young boys), they're callin' through the window:
"Hey, Spanish Johnny, you want to make a little easy money tonight?"
And Johnny whispered, "Goodnight, it's all tight, Jane
I'll meet you tomorrow night on Lover's Lane
We may find it out on the street tonight, baby
Or we may walk until the daylight, maybe"
Oh, goodnight, it's all right, Jane
I'm gonna meet you tomorrow night on Lover's Lane
Ah, we can find it out on the street tonight, baby
Or we may walk until the daylight, maybe
Ah, goodnight, it's all right, Jane
I'll meet you tomorrow night on Lover's Lane
Now we may find it out on, on the street tonight, baby
Or we may have to walk until the morning light, maybe
(Goodnight, it's all right, Jane)
(Goodnight, it's all right, Jane)
(Goodnight, it's all right, Jane)
(Goodnight, it's all right, Jane)
(Goodnight, it's all)


Page last updated: 20 Jan 2012

Intro

Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET is the fifth track on his 1973 album The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle.

The above lyrics are for Springsteen's studio version of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET as released on The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle.

Composition and Recording

According to Brucebase, INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was written in mid-1973 and recorded during the second phase of The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle recording sessions. It was apparently the final song completed for the album.

The band line-up on this track is unknown, but as far as one can tell, Bruce Springsteen sings vocals and handles guitar, David Sancious plays piano, Danni Federici plays second piano, Vini Lopez plays drums, Garry Tallent plays bass, and Suki Lahav sings choir vocals. The track also has organ. Clarence Clemons was around for the recording, but did not play on this song so far as one can tell. The track, as well as the whole album, was recorded at Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY and produced by Mike Appel and Jimmy Cretecos. On the album, the piano moves seamlessly from INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET into the next track, ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT).

INCIDENT ON THE W. SIDE is a unknown song from the The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle period (fall 1972 to fall 1973). It is is probably an early draft of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET, or possibly just an alternate title for it.

A handwritten lyrics sheet containing what appears to be an early draft of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET exists. See the early draft for more details.

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.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

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.

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
side 1 track list (vinyl LP format):

  1. THE E STREET SHUFFLE
  2. 4TH OF JULY, ASBURY PARK (SANDY)
  3. KITTY'S BACK
  4. WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
side 2 track list (vinyl LP format):

  1. INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET
  2. ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT)
  3. NEW YORK CITY SERENADE

Other Official Releases

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET can also be found on two Bruce Springsteen promo-only samplers.


Bruce Springsteen -- Tougher Than The Rest

CD – Columbia (XPCD 192) – UK, 1992

UK-only promotional CD sampler issued in limited quantities to tie in with the 1992 Wembley shows and contains 16 tracks from Springsteen's albums up to 1992.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Ballads Vol. 1 (1973 - 1982)

CD-R – Sony (no catalogue 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 INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET were also officially released:


The live 29 Dec 1980 version of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was officially released on the War European EP in 1986.

The live 16 Oct 2002 version of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was officially released on the Live In Barcelona home video in 2003.

Live History

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET is known to have been performed at least 33 times during The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour, from 1974 onwards. Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates. The first of these performances, from 26 Jan 1974 in Nashville, TN, was a jazzy full-band version featuring Vini Lopez on drums and David Sancious on piano (see the live 29 Jan 1974 version). The next 4 performances, from spring and summer of 1974, featured Ernest "Boom" Carter on drums and David Sancious on piano (no audio from these performances circulates). The next performance, from 20 Sep 1974 in Upper Darby, PA, featured Max Weinberg on drums and Roy Bittan on piano (no audio from this performance circulates). The song became the show opener from that date onwards. The last 28 performances, from fall 1974 and winter 1975, were performed in a stripped down arrangement featuring Springsteen backed by Roy Bittan on piano and Suki Lahav on violin and backup vocals (see the live 05 Feb 1975 version).

[Click here to display/hide detailed known The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET is known to have been performed at least 28 times during the Born To Run Tour: 18 times during the 1st leg (73 know dates / 81 known shows, between July and December 1975) and 10 times during the 2nd leg (35 know dates, between March and May 1976). The 1976 portion of the tour would soon be nicknamed the "Chicken Scratch Tour" by the road crew because of the high proportion of secondary market, southern state locations. 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. During the 1st leg of the tour, INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was the show opener whenever it was performed, and it was played in a stripped-down arrangement featuring Springsteen on vocals and Roy Bittan on piano. During the 2nd leg of the tour, INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was played in a full-band version, closer to the album arrangement than The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour full-band arrangement, but "rockier".

[Click here to display/hide detailed known Born To Run Tour performances list]

Despite the marvelous reception received by both Born To Run and the tour which followed, the relationship between Bruce Springsteen and his now former manager and producer Mike Appel was deteriorating. In July 1976 the storm broke; Mike Appel wrote to Springsteen saying that he would not allow Jon Landau (Springsteen's friend and co-producer of Born To Run) to produce the next album, citing a particular paragraph from their original agreement. Bruce replied on 27 Jul 1976 by firing manager Mike Appel and suing him and his management company Laurel Canyon Ltd. in Federal Court in Manhattan, claiming fraud, breach of trust, and undue influence. Appel countersued on 29 Jul 1976 in New York State Supreme Court, asking the court to prohibit Springsteen and Jon Landau from working together in studio. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band were slated to enter the studio that year for the recording of a new album, except that on 15 Sep 1976 the judge in the lawsuits case ruled that Springsteen was enjoined from any further recording with Columbia Records until Appel's suit was resolved. This would drag for about a year. Meanwhile, Springsteen continued gigging, and in the process broke his self-imposed rule of not playing the larger arenas. This was basically because he was not able to put a record out, and it was the only way his fans would be able to hear him at all. The tour became known as the "Lawsuit Tour".

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET is known to have been performed at least 5 times during the Lawsuit Tour: 1 time during the 1st leg (29 known dates, between August and November 1976) and 4 times during the 2nd leg (33 known dates, between February and March 1977). Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song may have been played on some more dates during the Lawsuit Tour; it may have been played only once during the 1st leg, and only the last three shows of that 2nd leg. On this tour, the song was played in a full-band arrangement similar to that from the 2nd leg of the Born To Run Tour, but including the since-traditional extended guitar outro by Bruce followed by a reprise of the chorus, not to mention some horrible harmonies from Steve Van Zandt on the choruses.

[Click here to display/hide detailed known Lawsuit Tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET is known to have been performed at least 6 times during the 111-date-long Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour, all between mid September and early October. On this tour, the song was played in a straight-forward full-band arrangement.

[Click here to display/hide detailed known Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET is known to have been performed at least once during the 138-date-long The River Tour, on 29 Dec 1980 in Uniondale, NY. A few setlists from that period are incomplete, and therefore, the song may have been played on some more dates during The River Tour, but that's very unlikely. On this tour, the song was played in a full-band album-style arrangement. The live 29 Dec 1980 performance of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET in Uniondale, NY, was first officially released on the War European EP in 1986. See the live 29 Dec 1980 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed known The River Tour performances list]

After disappearing from Springsteen's repertoire for 19 years, INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed 4 times during the 132-date-long The Reunion Tour. The song was played in its traditional full-band arrangement.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Reunion Tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed during two of the five 2001 Asbury Park holiday shows. These concerts were billed as "Bruce Springsteen with The Max Weinberg 7 and Friends", with The Max Weinberg 7 serving as the house band, and Springsteen bringing guests on and off the stage throughout the shows. On these shows the song was played in an arrangement featuring Bruce Springsteen on piano and vocals, Soozie Tyrell on violin and backup vocals, Patti Scialfa on backup vocals, and Lisa Lowell on backup vocals. See the live 08 Dec 2001 version.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2000-2003 holiday shows performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed 15 times during the 120-date-long The Rising Tour. The song was played in a solo piano arrangement (see the live 27 Oct 2002 version), expet twice in 2003 when it was played in its traditional full-band arrangement (see the live 11 Aug 2003 version). The complete 16 Oct 2002 concert at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain, was released on the Live In Barcelona DVD in 2003. See the live 16 Oct 2002 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed The Rising Tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed 13 times during the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour. The song was played in a solo piano arrangement. See the live 08 Nov 2005 version.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour performances list]

In preparation for the Magic Tour, INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed during the first of the tour's three public warm-up rehearsal shows that took place in September 2007 in Asbury Park and East Rutherford. The song is also known to have been practiced during at least 2 of the private rehearsals that took place in September 2007 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's first leg.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Magic Tour rehearsals performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed 11 times during the 100-date-long Magic Tour. The song was played in its traditional full-band arrangement. The first four of these performances featured Danny Federici on organ (see the live 06 Oct 2007 version) while the rest featured Charles Giordano on organ (see the live 31 Jul 2008 version).

[Click here to display/hide detailed Magic Tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed 4 times during the 83-date-long Working On A Dream Tour. The song was played in a full-band arrangement.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Working On A Dream Tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed off-tour on 04 Nov 2011 at Soldiers And Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, PA, when Bruce Springsteen appeared at Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers concerts. The song was played solo acoustic.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2011 off-tour performances list]

INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET was performed during the twelfth (2012) annual Light Of Day benefit. The song was played solo acoustic.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Light Of Day benefit shows performances list]

Covers

As far as it's known, only one artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET:


Lorenzo Bertocchini -- Hearts Of Stone: Some Bruce Springsteen Songs

CD - no label (GOMB 16) - Italy, 2009

This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.

Available Versions

List of available versions of INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET on this website:

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for all the help.

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