Song of the Day #4,106: ‘Incident on 57th Street’ – Bruce Springsteen

I’ve written about another of my favorite 1973 albums a number of times already. In fact, this is the fifth track from Bruce Springsteen’s The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle I’ve posted as a Song of the Day. And the album has only seven songs.

In one of those posts, I described this as “an album bursting with musicality, theatricality and an infectious creative energy. Springsteen spins his street-smart character sketches with staccato bursts of bruiser poetry. The lyrics could pass for stream-of-conscious if they weren’t so meticulously shaped. Musically, the newly formed E-Street band tore through multiple genres, but mostly settled into a jazz-rock groove that makes every track feel like the world’s coolest lawn concert.”

Not a bad synopsis, me. Let me add that this album was Springsteen’s second, and his first came out earlier the same year. So 1973 was indeed a banner year for The Boss.

I’ll cover his debut next week.

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 selling 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 going down on Shanty Lane tonight
All them golden-heeled fairies in a real bitch fight
Pull .38s and kiss the girls good night

Oh good night, it’s alright 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
Oh she looked so fine
Like a late Juliet she knew he’d never be true
But then she didn’t really mind
Upstairs a band was playing
The singer was singing 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”
Oh them barefoot boys left their homes for the woods
Them little barefoot street boys they say homes ain’t no good
They left the corners
Threw away all their switchblade knives
And kissed each other good-bye

Johnny was sitting on the fire escape
Watching the kids playing down 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
All they ever want to do is fight”
Those romantic young boys
They’re calling through the window
“Hey Spanish Johnny, you want to make a little easy money tonight?”
And Johnny whispered:
Good night, 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

Ah good night, 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, good night, 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

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,106: ‘Incident on 57th Street’ – Bruce Springsteen

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Not a bad synopsis, indeed, and not a bad album.

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