IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY

Live 23 Nov 1974 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
Sisters fell back, said, "Don't that man look pretty"
Cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys, they sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city

I was the king of the alley, mama, I could talk some trash
I was the prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar's bash
I was the pimp's main prophet, I kept everything cool
A backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
And when the heat came down, it was left on the ground
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
It's so 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 can 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
You're out of that hole and back up on the street

Them south side sisters sure look pretty
The cripple on the corner cries out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city
So hard, so hard

Walking way all the way down along the road
You hear somebody moving
Something on a quiet street
But who could it be?
A saxophone blow, Clarence
Who can you see, something on the road all by yourself?
But who can you see?
On the side of the road, something
On the side of the road, something
On the side of the road, something
On the side of the road, something
On the side of the road, something
On the side of the road, something
On the side of the road, something


Page last updated: 03 Jul 2011

Info

The above lyrics are for the 23 Nov 1974 performance of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY at Salem State College in Salem, MA, during The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour. The song was performed in a full-band arrangement that evolved from the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Tour, and this version is unique that it features an outro rap, much like the one heard on the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. outtake version.

This was one show only, held in the sold-out 800-seat Salem State College Auditorium. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band the sole act on the bill. An audience recording of average sound quality is in circulation.


Promotional ad for the 23 Nov 1974 show at Salem State College, Salem, MA
[Taken from Brucebase]

Available Versions

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

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake). Some of the above info is taken from Brucebase.