Live 14 Sep 1981 version

[Spoken intro:] This is for you transfers.

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 can feel its heartbeat
Sisters fell right back there, "That man look pretty"
Yeah, downtown boys, they sure talk gritty
Ah, cripple crying out, "Nickels for your pity"
It's too 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
Just 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
Well, 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!

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, 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
Ain't it hard to be a saint?
Oh, in the city
Oh, yeah now
Na na na na whoa
Oh wha na na whoa
Oh na oh, oh na oh
Oh na oh, oh na oh
Oh na oh

Page last updated: 12 Jun 2011


The above lyrics are for the live 14 Sep 1981 performance of IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, OH, during The River Tour. The song was played in its traditional full-band arrangement.

Promotional poster for the 13-14 Sep 1981 shows at Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH

Pass for the 14 Sep 1981 show at Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH

Ticket stub for the 14 Sep 1981 show at Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OH
[Taken from Brucebase]

The 13 and 14 Sep 1981 shows at Riverfront Coliseum were the last on this 138-date-long tour. They had been postponed from earlier in the tour, 26 and 27 Jul 1981 (see above pass and ticket stub).

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).