KITTY'S BACK

Album version

Catlong sighs holding Kitty's black tooth
She left to marry some top cat, ain't it the cold truth
And there hasn't been a tally since Sally left the alley
Since Kitty left with Big Pretty things have got pretty thin, yeah, yeah
It's tight on this fence since them young dudes are muscling in

Well, Jack Knife cries 'cause baby's in a bundle
She goes running nightly, lightly through the jungle
And them tin cans are exploding out in the ninety-degree heat
Cat somehow lost his baby down on Bleecker Street
It's sad, but it sure is true
Cat shrugs his shoulders, sits back and sighs
Ooh, ooh, what can I do?
Ooh, ooh, ooh, what can I do?
Ooh, ooh, what can I do?
Ooh, ooh, ooh, what can I do?

Catlong lies back bent on a trash can
Flashing lights cut the night, dude in white says he's the man
Well, you better learn to move fast when you're young or you're not long around
Cat somehow lost his Kitty down in the city pound
So get right, get tight, get down
Well, who's that down at the end of the alley?
She's been gone so long
(Here she comes, here she comes, here she comes, here she comes)
Yeah, like that, yeah
(Here she comes, here she comes, here she comes, here she comes)
Kitty's back in town (here she comes, now)
Kitty's back in town (oh, oh, all right)
Kitty's back in town (here she comes, now)
Kitty's back in town (oh, oh, all right)
Kitty's back in town (here she comes, now)
Oh, Kitty's back in town (oh, oh, all right)
Kitty's back in town (here she comes, now)
Kitty's back in town (oh, oh, all right)

Now, Cat knows his Kitty's been untrue
And that she left him for a city dude
But she's so soft, she's so blue
When he looks into her eyes
He just sits back and sighs
Ooh, ooh, ooh, what can I do?
Ooh, ooh, ooh, what can I do?
Ooh, ooh, ooh, what can I do?
Ooh, ooh, ooh, what can I do?

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right
Ha ha, da, da, da, da, da (ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, all right, ooh, all right) all right
(Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, all right, ooh, all right)
(Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, all right, ooh, all right)
(Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, all right, ooh, all right)
(Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right, whoa, all right)
(Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right, whoa, all right)
(Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right, whoa, all right)
(Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right, whoa, all right)
(Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right, whoa, all right)
(Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right, whoa, all right)
(Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, all right)


Page last updated: 02 Mar 2014

Intro

Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, KITTY'S BACK is the third track on his 1973 album The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle.

The above lyrics are transcribed from Springsteen's studio version of KITTY'S BACK as released on The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle.

Composition and Recording

Bruce Springsteen wrote KITTY'S BACK in mid-1973. In 1974, he mentioned he got the idea for the title from a neon sign promoting the return of a popular stripper's show to a local club in the Jersey Shore area (see the spoken intro for the live 13 Jul 1974 version). KITTY'S BACK was recorded during the second phase of The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle recording sessions (see below section). It was was one of the final songs completed for the album.

According to Sony's database of Springsteen recording sessions, KITTY'S BACK was cut on 28 Jun 1973, 24 Jul 1973, and 23 Sep 1973 at 914 Sound Studios. It is not clear at which of these three recording sessions the album version of KITTY'S BACK was cut, or if it was cut in another session.

The band line-up on this track is Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, Garry Tallent, Vini Lopez, and David Sancious. Danni Federici is the one who plays organ on the track, but the organ solo is courtesy of David Sancious. The track, as well as the whole album, was recorded at Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY and produced by Mike Appel and Jimmy Cretecos.

The song was written as a jazz tune, perhaps the closest Springsteen gets to the genre. It contains an open-ended middle where the E Street Band is allowed to improvise. On the album, keyboardist David Sancious performs an organ solo, while in concert each musician is allowed several minutes of jamming time.

Circulating Studio Versions

An alternative studio version of KITTY'S BACK is in circulation on bootlegs. See the outtake version for more details. A slightly different mix of the album version (but same recording) was released on the briefly-legal album The Early Years (Early Records). See PRODIGAL SON for more details.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Early Years [album cover art]

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

KITTY'S BACK can also be found on one Bruce Springsteen promo-only sampler.


Bruce Springsteen -- The Future Of Rock'n'Roll / 70's To 80's

2-CD – CBS/Sony (XADP 90009~10) – Japan, 1988

Japan-only promotional 2-CD set sampler compiling 28 tracks from Springsteen's first nine albums plus two 1988 live B-sides.

Other versions of KITTY'S BACK were also officially released:



The live 18 Nov 1975 version of KITTY'S BACK was released on the Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 album and home video in 2005.

Live History -- 1970's

KITTY'S BACK is known to have been performed at least 52 times during The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle Tour. Some of that period's setlists are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song must have been played on some more dates. The first two known performances, from Fall 1973, were in an album-style full-band arrangement featuring Vini Lopez on drums and David Sancious on piano (see the live 06 Dec 1973 version). The next 25 known performances, from Winter, Spring, and Summer of 1974, were in an extended full-band arrangement, featuring Ernest "Boom" Carter on drums and David Sancious on piano (see the live 13 Jul 1974 version). The next known performance, from 20 Sep 1974 in Upper Darby, PA, is an extended full-band arrangement featuring Max Weinberg on drums and Roy Bittan on piano (no audio of this version is in circulation). The last 25 known performances, from Fall 1974 and Winter 1975, are in an extended full-band arrangement featuring Max Weinberg on drums, Roy Bittan on piano, and possibly Suki Lahav on 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]

KITTY'S BACK is known to have been performed at least 63 times during the Born To Run Tour: 63 times during the 1st leg (73 know dates / 81 known shows, between July and December 1975) and 0 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 must have been played on some more dates during the Born To Run Tour; it may have been a stable number between the beginning of the tour's first leg and the 23 Nov 1974 show in Amsterdam, Holland. The basic arrangement of KITTY'S BACK for the Born To Run Tour was an extended, full-band version featuring an instrumental snippet of Van Morrison's MOONDANCE in the midsection, with a number of variations throughout the tour, including long spoken intros and interludes and snippets of other songs being played. See the individual versions below for more details. Audio and video for the complete 18 Nov 1975 show at Hammersmith Odeon in London, England, was released in 2005 on the Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 CD and DVD. See the live 18 Nov 1975 version for more details.

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

KITTY'S BACK is known to have been performed at least 7 times during the 111-date-long Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour, all in September and early October, including the 3-night stand at Palladium in New York City, NY, and the 3-night stand at Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. A few setlists from that period are incomplete or unknown, and therefore, the song may have been played on some more dates during the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour. On this tour, the song was played in a straight-away full-band version that would more-or-less become the "traditional" arrangement.

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

Live History -- 2000's

After disappearing from Springsteen's repertoire for 22 years, KITTY'S BACK was performed during both 2000 Asbury Park holiday shows, all five 2003 Asbury Park holiday shows, and two of the three 2003 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 a full-band arrangement with Springsteen backed by The Max Weinberg 7. In 2000, the song also featured Clarence Clemons on saxophone, Danny Federici on organ, Garry Tallent on bass, and the Redheaded Women (Patti Scialfa, Soozie Tyrell, and Lisa Lowell) on backup vocals. These were the first live performances of the song to feature a full horn section, as it does on the album. In 2001, the song also featured Clarence Clemons on saxophone, Danny Federici on organ, Nils Lofgren on guitar, Garry Tallent on bass, and the Redheaded Women on backup vocals. In 2003, the song also featured Danny Federici on organ, Nils Lofgren on guitar, Steve Van Zandt on guitar, Lisa Lowell on backup vocals, Soozie Tyrell on backup vocals, and Bobby Bandiera on guitar.

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

Springsteen made guest spot appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien on 11 Dec 2002, playing a two-song set, the first of which was KITTY'S BACK. He was backed by the E Street Band, with some help from the Max Weinberg 7. See the live 11 Dec 2002 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2002 off-tour performances list]

KITTY'S BACK was performed on 29 Apr 2003 at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, during "The Hope Concert" benefit. It was played in a full-band version, with Bruce Springsteen backed by the Max Weinberg 7, plus Bobby Bandiera on guitar. See the live 29 Apr 2003 version for more details. The song was also practiced the previous day at Count Basie Theatre during the concert's rehearsals.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2003 off-tour performances list]

KITTY'S BACK was performed 8 times during the 120-date-long The Rising Tour. The song was played in a full-band arrangement.

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

KITTY'S BACK was sound-checked prior to the 20 Oct 2005 show in Worcester, MA, (as far as it's known) but it was not performed on any of the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour's regular shows.

KITTY'S BACK was performed 16 times during the 100-date-long Magic Tour. The song was played in a full-band arrangement. Of these, the first five performances from 2007 featured Danny Federici on organ, in addition to the 20 Mar 2008 performance in Indianapolis, IN, where he showed up unannounced and guested on a number of songs (see the live 20 Mar 2008 version). The remaining performances featured Charles Giordano on organ (see the live 15 Aug 2008 version).

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

KITTY'S BACK was performed off-tour on 07 May 2008 at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, during a benefit show for the historic theatre. The song was played in a full-band arrangement featuring a horns section. See the live 07 May 2008 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed 2008 off-tour performances list]

KITTY'S BACK was performed 9 times during the 83-date-long Working On A Dream Tour. The song was played in a full-band arrangement. The first two performances featured Jay Weinberg on drums (see the live 29 Apr 2009 version). The second two performances featured Max Weinberg on drums (see the live 23 May 2009 version). The last five performances featured Max Weinberg on drums and Curt Ramm on trumpet (see the live 03 Oct 2009 version); the penultimate version, from 07 Nov 2009 in New York City, also featured a full horn section (see the live 07 Nov 2009 version).

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

Since 2007 Springsteen has been playing the annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit shows. KITTY'S BACK was performed during the fourth (2010) annual benefit. The song was played in a unique version backed by The Max Weinberg Big Band and Roy Bittan. See the live 03 Nov 2010 version for more details.

[Click here to display/hide detailed Stand Up For Heroes benefit shows performances list]

KITTY'S BACK was performed 5 times during the 133-date-long Wrecking Ball Tour. The song was played in a full-band arrangement.

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

(By the time this page was last updated,) KITTY'S BACK was performed twice during the High Hopes Tour. The song was played in a full-band arrangement.

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

Covers

As far as it's known, only one artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's KITTY'S BACK:


Various artists -- For You: A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen

CD - Totem Records (TTM 480499 2) - Italy, 1995

This is a various artists Bruce Springsteen tribute album. KITTY'S BACK is performed by Strange Fruit. See Strange Fruit's cover version for more details.

In his book Philip Lynott: The Rocker, Mark Putterford writes that the main melodic guitar riff in Thin Lizzy's THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN was based on Springsteen's KITTY'S BACK.

Available Versions

List of available versions of KITTY'S BACK 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.

Request

Reportedly the master tape for Thin Lizzy's THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN went missing for years because one of the studio engineers thought that it sounded like Springsteen's KITTY'S BACK and labeled the reel as "Kitty's Back" as a joke. There's also a story in one of Philip Lynott's biographies that goes like this: Lynott was sitting somewhere in the United States (possibly by some pool in Los Angeles) trying to get up the nerve to walk across and introduce himself to Bruce Springsteen. Lynott was gutted when Springsteen got up to leave, but before he did, he came over to Lynott and said, "Hi I'm Bruce Springsteen and I really like your music." Obviously Lynott was speechless.

If you have any information about the above, or additions, corrections, references and name of books, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

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