Here is a little something (unrelated) to celebrate the first time I heard Bruce perform “The Promise” at The Music Hall, in Boston, Massachusetts in May of 1978. I waited 20 years since I first heard the song on a crappy bootleg (note: crappy today, a find from Heaven more valuable than gold, platinum, or water to a thirsty man, in its day) to hear him perform it in person. I’d drop the needle over and over and pray. Then, I finally got a tape of the show I had attended 20 years earlier and, um, duh, I HAD seen him perform it. The song, a ‘new, slow, unfamiliar, number’ just went through me at the time in an adrenaline blur as the balcony I was in was shaking in a non stop thunderous quake that should have collapsed in a sweat greased rubble upon everyone who was beneath us, crushing the life out of them while we continued to dance over their misfortuned seating. In the joy of the blistering fever that encompassed everyone in attendance that night, that cool pause wasn’t a focus, just another windup for the big pitch. “Bring on those motherfucking encores. Big Man!!!”
So to honor the commemoration of memory lost and then joyously found again, I contribute the following for the SPL faithful.
Many years ago I acquired a set of hastily scanned pages from an early Springsteen lyric notebook that had been purchased at auction, and was subsequently broken apart and sold off page by page. I never owned the original. There were pages with song titles and possibly set lists, some scribbles, some fairly realized song lyrics, and some just paragraphs and small scribbling. Think of the notebook repro that came with The River box set.
I don’t know if any pages have been posted or circulated. Never explored the issue.
Here is a photo of one of the more interesting pages. My guess is that the book was from the early 1970s, possibly 1972. The song below appears to be a dark little number. I won’t speculate on who or what may have been the inspiration, I’ll leave that to Bruce’s religious learnings and leanings.
As someone who has always considered lyrics as important as the music, its exciting for me to find a first appearance of a phrase, a stanza, a chorus, that was saved or transferred from an early composition to a later one (think Mary Lou and Be True). I lit up finding the reference below.
Thus, for your pleasure, mystification, amusement, consternation and conversation, here is the lyric page for “I Am The Devil”. And as Bruce notes in the second line, long before he was running on the backstreets:
“I breathe the fire that I was born in”
Steal what you can from the treasures of the Lord, including getting C-19 vaccinated.