Live 01 Jan 1979 version

[Spoken intro:] Gonna do this for Jimmy and Bob.

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, ah
Sisters fell back, said, "Don't that man look pretty"
The cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them downtown boys sure talk gritty
But it's hard to be a saint in the city

I was the king of the alley, I could talk some trash
The prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar's bash
The pimp's main prophet, I kept everything cool
A backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
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 hard to be a saint

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 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 while you struggle to your feet
You're out of that hole and back up on the street

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

Na na na na
Ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah

Page last updated: 22 May 2011


The above lyrics are for the live 01 Jan 1979 performance of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY at Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland, OH, during the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour. This was the last date of the tour. The song was played in its traditional full-band arrangement.

Promotional ad for the 01 Jan 1979 show at Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH
[Taken from Brucebase]

Available Versions

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


Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake).