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Bruce Springsteen – New York City Serenade lyrics

Billy, he's down by the railroad tracks, sittin' low in the back seat of his
Diamond Jackie, she's so intact, she falls so softly beneath him,
Jackie's heels are stacked, Billy's got cleats on his boots,
Together they're gonna boogaloo down Broadway and come back home with the loot,
It's midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute, it's a mad dog's
So walk tall, or baby don't walk at all.
Fish lady, fish lady, fish lady she baits them tenement walls,
She won't take cornerboys, ain't got no money, and they're so easy,
I said, "Hey baby won't you take my hand, walk me down Broadway,
I'm a young man and I talk real loud, yeah, baby walk real proud for you.
So shake it away, so shake away your street life, shake away your city life,
And hook up to the train, hook up to the night train, hook it up hook up to the, hook up to the train,
But I know that she won't take the train, no she won't take the train,
No she won't take the train, no she won't take the train
She's afraid them tracks are gonna slow her down,
And when she turns this boy'll be gone
So long, sometimes you just gotta walk on.

Hey vibes man, hey jazz man play me your serenade
Any deeper blue and you're playin' in your grave
Save your notes, don't spend 'em on the blues boy,
Save your notes, don't spend 'em on the darlin' yearlin' sharp boy,
Straight for the church note ringin', vibes man sting a trash can
Listen to your junk man, listen to your junk man,
Listen to your junk man, listen to your junk man,
He's singin', singin', singin', singin'.
All dressed up in satin, walkin' past the alley.
Watch out for you junk man, watch out for your junk man,
Watch out for your junk man.

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Corrected byListentothesong


  • u
    Jackie's a heroin user/prostitute and billy's convincing her to leave the life. Fish lady is the older prostitute who's too wise to the streets to fall in love with a john. The junkman is the smack dealer, maybe the pimp, maybe both. Who lures you in with heroin and then turns you out. He's always there, dressed sharp. He can lure you if you don't be careful. Great tune about the heatbreak of love, the pains of survival and finding the strength to move on.
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  • m
    This song is about New York City (and ultimately, modern Western society) life. And how people survive within it.
    The first part concentrates upon the seductions inherent within New York's walls, the glitter and glamour, with a suggestion of what it takes to survive: don't get cute, it's mad, only show confidence.
    The second part seems to falls into typical Springsteen mode (gotta love it): using a means of transport (moving on)- this time it's a train- to seduce a lady away from her inherently vacuous, materialistic existence. Of course, he dosn't succeed, because she is too ambitious.
    The last part goes back to music, also suggesting correlations between materialism and deep blues. The junk man- singing, all dressed up in satin- makes a living out of selling things that others throw out.
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  • g
    I am not sure Bruce was interested in Western civilization here. Sounds like just another extended meditation on the wandering, searching angst of his youth, which ultimately achieves some resolution in the next album (at a particular point, indeed: "when the change was made uptown.."). What strikes me about this song is that it is a quintessential example of the immense and expansive melodic and harmonic creativity of the early years. The later albums (at least till Born usa) are much more taut and masculine.
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