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: