35 Bruce Springsteen preamble to The River, LA 1985

Jan 10th, 2009   3:54 pm

In my annual desktop tidy up, I came across this transcription of mine of Bruce Springsteen’s preamble to the live version of The River on the Live 1975-1985 box set. I can’t remember if I had help, but I don’t think I did (and a quick Google tells me not).

A crackin’ version of The River, it has to be said! Enjoy!

The River (Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA, September 30, 1985)

Hiya doin’ out there tonight? That’s good, that’s good.

This is ah… When I was growing up, me and my dad used to go at it all the time over almost anything. But, ah, I used to have really long hair, way down past my shoulders. I was 17 or 18, oh man, he used to hate it. And we got to where we’d fight so much that I’d, that I’d spent a lot of time out of the house; and in the summertime it wasn’t so bad, ‘cause it was warm, and my friends were out, but in the winter, I remember standing downtown where it’d get so cold and, when the wind would blow, I had this phone booth I used to stand in. And I used to call my girl, like, for hours at a time, just talking to her all night long. And finally I’d get my nerve up to go home. I’d stand there in the driveway and he’d be waiting for me in the kitchen and I’d tuck my hair down on my collar and I’d walk in and he’d call me back to sit down with him. And the first thing he’d always ask me was what did I think I was doing with myself. And the worst part of it was that I could never explain to him.

I remember I got in a motorcycle accident once and I was laid up in bed and he had a barber come in and cut my hair and, man, I can remember telling him that I hated him and that I would never ever forget it. And he used to tell me: “Man, I can’t wait till the army gets you. When the army gets you they’re gonna make a man out of you. They’re gonna cut all that hair off and they’ll make a man out of you.”

And this was, I guess, ’68 when there was a lot of guys from the neighbourhood going to Vietnam. I remember the drummer in my first band coming over to my house with his marine uniform on, saying that he was going and that he didn’t know where it was. And a lot of guys went, and a lot of guys didn’t come back. And the lot that came back weren’t the same anymore. I remember the day I got my draft notice. I hid it from my folks and three days before my physical me and my friends went out and we stayed up all night and we got on the bus to go that morning and man we were all so scared… And I went, and I failed. I came home [audience cheers], it’s nothing to applaud about… I remember coming home after I’d been gone for three days and walking in the kitchen and my mother and father were sitting there and my dad said: “Where you been?” and I said, uh, “I went to take my physical.” He said “What happened?” I said “They didn’t take me.” And he said: “That’s good.”


Another popular live version is the New York one:


Feb 2nd, 2009   1:19 am

Thanks for posting this. I remember listening to that story a lot as a kid, and I always found it very touching. I had it on cassette and I'd listen to it over, and over.
Feb 23rd, 2009   10:28 pm

thanks,Iwaslookingforthis,noteasy to catch everywordfora non mother tongue


Feb 23rd, 2009   10:40 pm

Jul 2nd, 2009   8:19 pm

Nice. Thaks, i was seraching these.
Niels, Denmark
Jul 3rd, 2009   11:35 am

My favourite preamble!!! Thanks a lot!!!
Epi, Germany
Aug 8th, 2009   12:23 am

Thanks a lot. I have been searching for that for a long time. Does anybody know, whether there is a Video with this spoken Intro?


Aug 8th, 2009   12:57 am

I'm not sure it was recorded on video. I've certainly never seen it. Pity! I've updated the post with the audio version (video is just the box set cover), and with a newer live version from New York that is excellent as well!
Charlene Lauver
Jan 13th, 2010   5:48 pm

How excellent! My brother Bart Haynes, lost in VietNam. A tremendous loss to so many who's lives he touched. We must accept that which we do not understand. Bart's memory lives on in my heart as it does in Bruce's also Charlene Haynes Lauver
Michael /Germany
Jul 31st, 2010   8:14 pm

Thank´s a lot. I was looking for that a long time. I love this spoken Intro. Sad that the video dosen´t run, it´s blocked up from Sony Music.
Aug 16th, 2010   2:31 am

Where can I find tha audio, I understand that there was no video. Who can help me?
Oct 10th, 2011   8:29 pm

Thanks a loooot.As I'm spaniard I could'nt undesrtand everything by listening, and with your transcription Now I can enjoy


Oct 15th, 2011   4:13 pm

@Carme de nada!
Nicolas Monnin
Feb 14th, 2012   11:40 am

Thanks for posting this transcription. I 'm an EFL teacher in France and used this preamble in class with teenage students exactly twenty years ago. I'd long lost the copy I'd made then and couldn't be arsed to transcribe it again. It's a great, very moving little story to explain the generation gap and how divisive and traumatic Vietnam was in the 60's. I'll use your transcription from now on. All the best.


Feb 14th, 2012   11:43 am

Merci, Nicolas!
Apr 7th, 2012   10:19 am

Thank you very much... I Love this Version of the Song until i was 15 or 16... I never understand the full size of what's going on on his mind when he told that Story... I understand, that it was about his father and him... and that it is a sad story... Now i hear the Song, read the words and became Tears in my eyes.......
May 6th, 2012   9:42 am

Greetings from Barcelona! I love this introduction: it's a magic moment before a touching version of The River. For many years I've pleased to listen it and I enjoyed, but I lost many words and expressions. Today, I can fully undestand it thakns to your transcription. Wonderful! And thanks again.
Jul 7th, 2012   4:27 am

Great preamble, I have the 5 set records that I still listen to. Thanks for sharing it.
May 27th, 2013   7:18 pm

My favourite song on one of the best album ever! I'm listening to it since almost 28 years. The preamble is great. Bruce rocks 4ever
Aug 1st, 2014   3:09 pm

I don't understand english so well. I didn't understand the global message but each time that i listen this fantastic song, the preamble make me so emotive. Thank you so much to allow us to understand the complete message. This very rare time were Bruce told about his father. Me also i have tears now.
Feb 19th, 2015   1:12 pm

I remember that his father did not only say "that's good" but he said "that's good, son. That's good". It made me cry every time I heard this! My brother had the LP set and I heard it on cassette A LOT. That's why I remember it so well. Thanks for the transcription!!
Jonathan jacobs
Jun 24th, 2015   11:57 pm

The marine was my dad he met Bruce at the jersey shore he was 14 and a drummer but he was too young for the road, so when he turned 17 he signed up for Vietnam in 69.


Jun 25th, 2015   8:29 am

Great story, Jonathan! Nice to have it memorialised in a great song by a great artist, too.
Jul 15th, 2015   3:59 am

Great, I remembered the emotional power of this preamble and was looking for it. The backdrop of Vietnam gives it historical context, and for many this will bring back memories. For me the key of this preamble is the unconditional love of a parent, which I find a beautiful thing. Thanks again. B
Nov 17th, 2015   7:43 pm

I thought this was right before the song "WAR".
Dr Hieu
Dec 12th, 2016   1:36 am

Miracle. Been waiting for 30 years until you post it. Good work,...Son.
Erich, Vienna, Austria
Feb 6th, 2017   6:11 pm

I heard this 20 years ago, or something. Now I rediscovered it. That was very emotional for me, because it remembered me of the relationship to my own father. Thanks for the transcription!!
Rui Cardoso
Oct 7th, 2017   12:03 pm

I've used this intro as teaching material (Listening & Reading) in my EAFL lessons. Wonderful text. My transcription has litlle differences to yours, but I find yours is perfect. Thanks for sharing.
HD Ecker
Nov 10th, 2017   1:14 am

Thanks a lot. "That's good" in the end ALWAYS touches me. Actually I got to this page by asking G..gle for "That's good Springsteen"! ;-)
Dec 2nd, 2017   12:26 am

My name is Ray and I'm from Barcelona (Spain). The first time I heard this preamble I decided to learn English in order to understand Bruce's words. I was 9 years old.
Dave Falla
Jun 9th, 2018   7:10 pm

This gets to me Every time at the end when he says, I've been to take physical what happened, they didn't take me, That's good that's good, I'm a blubbering wreck Every time 33 years when 1st heard it and today when I hear those few lines ..Then the Harmonica plays and WOW the hairs on the back of the neck.


Jun 11th, 2018   4:41 pm

Well put Dave, I'm the same!
Apr 9th, 2019   4:53 am

Bravo!I have searched this preamble many many times and finally find it here.It’s touching.And I have heard this song over and over.Thx a lot!
Tracy Fontsere
Aug 29th, 2019   1:45 pm

I remember hearing this sometimes, late at night on the radio. My little teenaged mind couldn't comprehend the enormity of it. I just thought it was beautiful. Thank you.
Florus (the Netherlands)
Nov 9th, 2019   1:12 am

This version with the preamble is one of my all time favorite songs! Especially the part when Bruce has finished telling the story and after a short silence, the harmonica solo kicks in......goosebumps over my whole body every single time! I also searched for a video recording of this particular version (from the ‘75-‘85 box set) but I don’t think it was recorded on video. Too bad!
Oct 20th, 2020   8:21 pm

Thanks for post it! Some parts are a bit difficult to understand... And i listened to It 1000 timeS?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.