[ ]   [ ]   [ ]                        [ ]      [ ]   [ ]
Bruce Springsteen — It's Hard To Be a Saint in the City
Album: Greetings from Asbury Park
Avg rating:
6.6

Your rating:
Total ratings: 802









Released: 1973
Length: 2:56
Plays (last 30 days): 0
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
Then dance just like a Casanova
With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
Silver star studs on my duds just like a Harley in heat
When I strut down the street I could hear its heart beat
The sisters fell back and said, "Don't that man look pretty."
The cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity."
Them gasoline boys downtown sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city
I was the king of the alley, mama, I could talk some trash
I was the prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar's bash
I was the pimp's main prophet I kept everything cool
Just a backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
And when the heat came down it was left on the ground
The 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 so hard to be a saint when you're just a boy out on the street
And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
As the tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
But 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 but they push you back down in your seat
Your heart starts beatin' faster as you struggle to your feet
Then you're outa that hole and back up on the street
And them South Side sisters sure look pretty
The cripple on the corner cries out, "Nickels for your pity."
And them downtown boys sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city
Comments (163)add comment
 kingart wrote:
I do believe this was the first Bruce song I ever heard. But I didn't know it then, and I wasn't impressed. A week or so later, I was walking on Beacon Street in Back Bay Boston, moving between a class and the library, and a dorm window at the corner of Beacon and Berkeley was wide open and the first seconds of Born to Run came blaring out at a volume of 11 on the dial of 10 and I stopped in my tracks and was introduced. 

 
Should have stopped at Little Stevies for some Pizza while you were there.
Awesome, The band doing Atlantic City followed by the Boss AWESOME.  

 Image result for its hard to be a saint in th city
 aspicer wrote:
It's these opportunities I use to try to imagine how others must feel about bands like Radiohead, King Crimson, Talking Heads..... I respect it but really prefer never to listen to it.....  

 
You seem a 20th century schizoid man {#Naughty}
 hschlossberg wrote:


As a Springsteen song, sure, I'd rate it a 7.  But as a RP song, I rated it a 2.

 
Maybe you are this kind of people that rate with a 9 or 10 the Goldfish's Moonwalk away...
 hschlossberg wrote:
As a Springsteen song, sure, I'd rate it a 7.  But as a RP song, I rated it a 2. 
Ditto.
I do believe this was the first Bruce song I ever heard. But I didn't know it then, and I wasn't impressed. A week or so later, I was walking on Beacon Street in Back Bay Boston, moving between a class and the library, and a dorm window at the corner of Beacon and Berkeley was wide open and the first seconds of Born to Run came blaring out at a volume of 11 on the dial of 10 and I stopped in my tracks and was introduced. 
 msymmes wrote:
I rated this a TEN years ago !

 

Kilroy wrote:
How can this be rated below 7? Come on RP listeners! This is a great Bruce tune....

 

 

As a Springsteen song, sure, I'd rate it a 7.  But as a RP song, I rated it a 2.
this is what i listen to Rp for, have never owned a BS album but like a few of his songs and had never heard this one before and liked it
I rated this a TEN years ago !

 

Kilroy wrote:
How can this be rated below 7? Come on RP listeners! This is a great Bruce tune....

 


        See the Sleeker!
      A version of subway.
         No way hosey
        Graffitis In Metro,.
         Sex in the city.
            Haleluiah.

 
It's these opportunities I use to try to imagine how others must feel about bands like Radiohead, King Crimson, Talking Heads..... I respect it but really prefer never to listen to it.....  
How can this be rated below 7? Come on RP listeners! This is a great Bruce tune....
Say what you will. I loved this song when it came out, and I love it still.
Wow, a really really horrible song.  Springsteen is pretty bad, I am amazed he made his awful sound stink even more!
Sorry Levon (RIP), but I was fully never on board with your cover of "A.C." we just heard.

But now we get a Bruce original following, and let's TURN IT UP!! 
 skibbenr wrote:
The press has often (well, at least a few times 20 to 40 years ago) announced the new Dylan.  Bruce was one of those 'new Dylans'  when this album came out.  It's probably why I picked it up.  Didn't see much similarity except for an interesting story telling style, but I liked it enough to buy the next few Bruce albums, too.

 
Thank you for that nugget from the tidy attic of your past. I too seem to recall hearing some positive notices about a quartet from Liverpool, England so I decided to give them a listen. Hard Days Night was the LP and it was amusing enough that I found myself picking up the group's next few releases, you know, just for shits and giggles. 
atlantic city by the band and now asbury park by springsteen. don't think anyone's gotten around to writing a song about newark... guess it'd be a dirge.
The press has often (well, at least a few times 20 to 40 years ago) announced the new Dylan.  Bruce was one of those 'new Dylans'  when this album came out.  It's probably why I picked it up.  Didn't see much similarity except for an interesting story telling style, but I liked it enough to buy the next few Bruce albums, too.
 jagdriver wrote:
I like maybe 2 - 3 BROOOOOSE songs. This is not one of them.

 
That's 2-3 more than I do.
 WonderLizard wrote:
As much as I love Roy Bittan, David Sancious could make this band cook.

 
And I forgot Vinnie "Mad Dog" Lopez on drums.


Yes, this song goes wayyyy back...  everybody in my church loves it...

 
Maybe as old as Bob, apples and oranges

gjeeg wrote:
This guy is the new Dylan!

 


This guy is the new Dylan!
This is quite simply a TEN imho.
 
 JrzyTmata wrote:

That's a standard postcard style. all the tourist places use it.





 
I guess I don't get out much! 
 martinc wrote:
I noticed the Gov from New Jersey used the same font/styling from this cover in the backdrop behind at the RNC speech last night. Instead of Ashbury Park he had New Jersey.
 
That's a standard postcard style. all the tourist places use it.






I noticed the Gov from New Jersey used the same font/styling from this cover in the backdrop behind at the RNC speech last night. Instead of Ashbury Park he had New Jersey.
Let's see... what's a nice way to say this?  BLEH!  Too many words, and not enough consideration to the music and to what the music ought to do. There. I said it.

His biggest (literally) fan spoke at the Republican convention last nite. :-)


Bowie's cover is another example of an artist who recognized Bruce's talent early on.
I like maybe 2 - 3 BROOOOOSE songs. This is definetly one of my very favorite ones. iTunes here I come.
I like maybe 2 - 3 BROOOOOSE songs. This is not one of them.
I STILL know all the words to this song.
I just watched the John Sayles film Baby It's You, which I'd never seen before. There is effective use of this and other early Springsteen songs. The movie wasn't Sayles' best, but still worth seeing.
 WayUpNorth wrote:
Oh what a treat ... a great set.  Thank you so much, I needed this today! {#Sunny}
 
And again today!!!   {#Music}
Amazing song
I've seen Bruce live on a number of occasions and though my interest in his material is mostly focused on the first ten or so albums, my RESPECT for his work (and work ethic) is tremendous... {#Notworthy}
As much as I love Roy Bittan, David Sancious could make this band cook.
Lyrics.
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, then dance just like a Casanova
With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
Silver star studs on my duds, just like a Harley in heat
When I strut down the street, I could feel its heart beat
The sisters fell back and said, "Don't that man look pretty"
The cripple on the corner cried out, "Nickels for your pity"
Them gasoline boys downtown sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city

I was the king of the alley, Mama, I could talk some trash
I was the prince of the paupers, crowned downtown at the beggar's bash
I was the pimp's main prophet, I kept everything cool
Just a backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
And when the heat came down it was left on the ground
The 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 so hard to be a saint when you're just a boy out on the street

And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
As the tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
But 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, but they push you back in your seat
Your heart starts beatin' faster as you struggle to your feet
Then you're outa that hole and back up on the street

And them South Side sisters sure look pretty
The cripple on the corner cries out, "Nickels for your pity"
And them downtown boys sure talk gritty
It's so hard to be a saint in the city

Anyone who can label Springsteen as trite, boring, or clichéd  is, in my opinion:  A teenager who hasn't heard his early work;  A hard-core death-metal fan who doesn't care about Springsteen's work, early or otherwise; Trolls.



This song would fit in well as an interlude piece in a Broadway show.
Jersey is definately in the house thes last  2 songs(Atlantic City....Greetings from Asbury Park)
Me....I'm from Exit 9

Oh what a treat ... a great set.  Thank you so much, I needed this today! {#Sunny}
city/pretty

I wonder how many other songs Bruce uses that rhyme in. We just heard two in a row.
...i'm surprised to suddenly realise that i hear a lot of dylan in this...
 Manbird wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

 

Exactly.  {#Clap}
We'll see what comes next.  But this song is part of a great play list, IMO!

All good playlists must come to an end at some point. Here's to a new beginning in a few minutes!
 garthwb wrote:
Great album, still rocks with a mature, literate and confident swagger, the likes of which few artists are ever able to match on their debut albums. Rock on Boss!
 
Swagger indeed! A bold debut that heralded a great new artist.

 Manbird wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song?
 
No.

Respect.
It's hard to be Bruce. . .

oh no you di n't

demi godlike 
I'm in that "hack" group as well.

From Jersey, you risk life and limb with that feeling.

To each his own... I know I'm in the minority, so all you fans out there... enjoy.

I'll be enjoying "The Derek Trucks Band" a whole lot more than this...
This is not Bruce's best, by any stretch, but to call him a hack shows profound ignorance.
Come on!   This was 1973!!!!!!!!!   It was the bomb!
 manbirdexperiment wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

 
What's that?  Bruce can't hear you over the sound of the pool splashing and his private jet firing up to hack it up somewhere nice. 

Now put your head down and get back to painting your hobby bird in your garage.

Quit kdding around - seems like a lot of people took you seriously...
Truly the Boss
 
Boy, for a "hack" he's sure been around a long time.

I have music and memories of Bruce that are probably older than you are. And there were people back then saying "he can't sing/play/write worth a shit". Different strokes, I guess
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.
peter_james_bond wrote:
3rd rate hack at best. WTF does anyone see in this crap.
 
There's just no accounting for tastes and then you have Hollyweed. More garbage!!! And they suck it all in.

 manbirdexperiment wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

 

birdman: you are correct.  they all sound alike, he is a hack, and Americans love their hacks.  sad but true, get used to it. When will the CEO fire the boss . . . .
 {#Lol}

wtango wrote:
Guess you got the Bird's brains in the experiment!

 
manbirdexperiment wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

 


 manbirdexperiment wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

 
Boy, for a "hack" he's sure been around a long time.

I have music and memories of Bruce that are probably older than you are. And there were people back then saying "he can't sing/play/write worth a shit". Different strokes, I guess. {#Wave}
 isayhoomhom wrote:

What a coincidence. I hate my boss too!
 

{#Lol}

love it, always have


 whtahtefcuk wrote:
The Boss is the Boss... not some assistant manager.
 
What a coincidence. I hate my boss too!
Guess you got the Bird's brains in the experiment!

 
manbirdexperiment wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

 


 manbirdexperiment wrote:
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

 

For once I agree with you, manbird. I like a couple of tracks from Born In the USA, but that's about all I can stand of the one who proclaims himself to be the boss.

The Boss is the Boss... not some assistant manager.
Just got back from playing the acoustic version of this at my local pub. It blows people away every time, even young people who have never heard it before.

Brilliant songwriting. 

 

 Nov 07, 2008 - 08:45 Bruce Springsteen - It's Hard To Be a Saint in the City;

Nov 07, 2008 - 14:05 more vBruce Springsteen - Growin' Up;

valley later of what never!......in any way it is late.




I love this song for the brilliance of the descriptions - it evokes such a feeling of familiarity.  Having been immersed in the local "culture" which spawned this song although in a different generation, to me this song is a snapshot of a time and place.  I have enjoyed much of Bruce's work, but I think his older work is more "essential" and impressionistic.
Doesn't he have like 12 other songs that sound identical to this boring song? Jesus, what a hack.

ah. one of my 3 springsteen favs. love this.
This song just makes me feel good. Love his old stuff

I was never a Bruce fanatic but this album and this song are fine pieces of work.
Great album, still rocks with a mature, literate and confident swagger, the likes of which few artists are ever able to match on their debut albums. Rock on Boss!

For me, this is Springsteen's answer to Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone. Yup, I believe this still reigns as my favorite Springsteen song.
I've got a buddy who has seen Bruce well over 30 times over the last 30 years; I think he's obsessed. He denies it of course . . .
baboo wrote:
Saw Bruce in '80. Managed to score tickets 5 rows from the stage. He came into the crowd during one song and high fived us. I haven't washed my hand since.
Ooh. Ick.
twcarlin wrote:
Oh man yes- NYC Serenade is such a great tune- like anything from the first 3 Bruce albums.
i agree. but for a lot of people that listen its too long. it is one of my favorite Bruce Sprintsteen songs. I do really like this one anyway. the lyrics are great and its short and to the point.
stop talking, Bruce; i wanna hear you sing.
lattalo wrote:
His first two Albums were sooooo good, more of a kind of jazzy rock. I would love if Bill played New York City Serenade from The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle.
Oh man yes- NYC Serenade is such a great tune- like anything from the first 3 Bruce albums.
The song isn't bad and the band does a good job but The Boss's singing is really weak here.
squidish wrote:
"You should look into Buddhism with the specific intent of learning how to not let people irritate you." - Odyzzeuz
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
squidish wrote:
"You should look into Buddhism with the specific intent of learning how to not let people irritate you." - Odyzzeuz
This really irritates me. :)
Odyzzeuz wrote:
This is the bombastic rag-in-my-pocket American myth horseshit that I really hate from Bruce.
"You should look into Buddhism with the specific intent of learning how to not let people irritate you." - Odyzzeuz
lattalo wrote:
His first two Albums were sooooo good, more of a kind of jazzy rock. I would love if Bill played New York City Serenade from The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle.
Is it in the library? If not, upload it. If you don't have it, let me know. I can rip it from vinyl.
His first two Albums were sooooo good, more of a kind of jazzy rock. I would love if Bill played New York City Serenade from The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle.
This is the bombastic rag-in-my-pocket American myth horseshit that I really hate from Bruce.
Bruce's new album, Magic, is due out in early October. A rocker. Hard to be Saint was hard for Bowie to cover well. Bruuuuccce!
Saw Bruce in '80. Managed to score tickets 5 rows from the stage. He came into the crowd during one song and high fived us. I haven't washed my hand since.
Love old Bruce, complex at a time when the radio played "Sky Rockets in flight"
Ah early Bruce so good. Saw him in 76 at Georgetown just after born to run came out.. unbelievable
Impressing 'early' Bruce... Ways better than the (overplayed) stuff from the late 80's and 90's. :clap:
Not usualy a Bruce fan, but this was pretty good.
My favorite Bruce tune ever.
Early Boss, nice!!!
For all the no-nothings and musically naive people DE DON"T CALL HIM DA BOSS for nuttin'
very nice. You can definetly make out the "Positively 4th Street" vibe on this one. The Boss was definetly aware of his strengths even at this early stage. Maybe I'll get around to listening to the phonograph LP I purchased of this five years ago....
David Sancious is what makes this song. Springsteen is just along for the ride(and credit)
I'm starting to think that the gift of great storytellers, like Springsteen, Dylan, Neil, Waits, Zevon etc., is lost upon those who cannot get past the unconventionality of the musicianship (e.g., "I can't stand his voice"). Their loss.
mnuisance wrote:
Nobody's better than Bruce when he's ON. And he's ON on this one, baby.
Well said. This is the gin-u-wine article.
Great tune from a great album, solid 8
robspeds wrote:
LLLLOOOSSSERR! How old are you, 18?
Are you suggesting that you must be 38 to like Springsteen?
Johnski333 wrote:
I usually don't say anything when bruce is played (taught if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all) but this is just bad, bad singing, bad music - rating: 1
LLLLOOOSSSERR! How old are you, 18?
Huey wrote:
:roflol: true, very true....
yeah baby! you ain't kidding!
though the last song by monte montgomery was a 1 and this a 10, i feel there is more than one order of magnitude separating them... multilayered and burly vs. metallic and phony. imho mais oui
This is the song that turned me on to Springsteen. Can't explain why, can't quantify it, and certainly won't try to convince others. There you have it.
AlienRelic wrote:
Wow. That sucks.
:roflol: true, very true....
BGGA wrote:
Well, Mr. Springsteen, since you've been cheating on Patty since September 2001, I suppose it's true, "It's hard to be a Saint", you cheating bastard.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ADDRESSES RUMORS ABOUT THE BREAKUP OF HIS MARRIAGE The full text of the statement follows: "I hesitate to use this website for anything personal believing it should remain a place where fans of my music can come free of the distractions that occasionally arise with the rest of my job. However, due to the unfounded and ugly rumors that have appeared in the papers over the last few days, I felt they shouldn't pass without comment. Patti and I have been together for 18 years- the best 18 years of my life. We have built a beautiful family we love and want to protect and our commitment to one another remains as strong as the day we were married."
Johnski333 wrote:
I usually don't say anything when bruce is played (taught if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all) but this is just bad, bad singing, bad music - rating: 1
Umm. perhaps your first thought is always best.
I usually don't say anything when bruce is played (taught if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all) but this is just bad, bad singing, bad music - rating: 1
Well, Mr. Springsteen, since you've been cheating on Patty since September 2001, I suppose it's true, "It's hard to be a Saint", you cheating bastard.
Wow. That sucks.
denizenusa wrote:
Personally, I thought I listened to RP to avoid this crap.
Old, rarely played music? Keep looking...
Papa_John wrote:
Bruce rocked on his first three albums! Love the Saint!
I agree totally. I love "Greetings" and "The Wild.....". His stuff after Born to Run is hit or miss for me, although he still puts on a great show.
MCKY wrote:
I'd agree, the first three albums were wonderful. I've been reliving Born to Run via the 30th anniversary box set. (Jeez, was it really that long ago?) None of his other albums have really grabbed me like those first three.
My favorite springsteen albums, by far, have been 'Nebraska', (oh and look, here's the band playing atlantic city, but I like Bruce's version better), and The Seeger Sessions. I that's a great damn album.
Bruce, the boss of black jeans, lyrics, and heart.
Nothing like a little Bruce Juice to get the attitude adjusted properly We're headin' to the Jersey Shore, Pearl!!!! :sunny:
Odyzzeuz wrote:
I'll probably get flamed, but I really consider Springsteen to be completely overrated. Just find him really tiresome after all these years.
In my book there's no reason to get flamed when you give your honest opinion without putting other listeners down. I can understand people getting tired of Bruce. Growing up as a teen in New York in the 70's I was a fan and thought he was amazing. I saw him play in 1977 and thought it was the greatest concert I'd ever seen. During my adult years I can't say I was a fan anymore and I chalked up my love of that concert to youthful enthusiasm. Then I saw him at a benfit show in 2004 and I thought, "holy crap, he really *is* the greatest performer I've ever seen". Seeing him live is like seeing Olivier on the stage or watching Michael Jordan on the court - a master performer who has no peer when it comes to practicing his craft.