"New York City Serenade" as written by and Bruce Springsteen....
Billy, he's down by the railroad tracks
Sittin' low in the back seat of his Cadillac
Diamond Jackie, she's so intact
And 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 promenade
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 corner boys, ain't got no money and they're so easy
I said, "Hey baby, won't you take my hand, walk with me down Broadway
Oh mama take my hand, and walk with me down Broadway, yeah
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
And hook up to the train
Oh, 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
No, 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, walk on

Hey vibes man, hey jazz man, oh 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
Ah, listen to your junk man
Listen to your junk man
Oh, listen to your junk man
He's singin', singin', he's singin', singin'
He's singin', singin'
All dressed up in satin, walkin' past the alley
Singin', singin', singin', singin'
Singin', singin', singin' yeah, singin' yeah
(Singin', singin', singin', singin') (Oh yeah)
Uh uh uh uh uh, uh, oh yeah

Watch out for your junk man
Watch out for your junk man
Watch out for your junk man

Oh oh ah
Oh oh ah
Oh oh ah
Oh ah, oh ah

Watch out for your junk man

Lyrics submitted by sugaredreams

"New York City Serenade" as written by Bruce Springsteen

Lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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New York City Serenade song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentRegardless of what history claims to be his best, this is my favorite Springsteen album. This song is in my top 3 of his songs, and only recently did I figure out what it was about: The lady in the song is living a wild life thinking she'll attract guys with money. She has no desire to live a normal life with normal guys, but in the end she finds that she's lonely, and that her "junk man" might not be poor, as the guys she needs might not be rich. The narrator can relate to her story, and is reminding her of this.
    (A song that helped me figure just what this masterpiece is trying to say: "Queen Jane Approximately" by Bob Dylan. Pretty much the same message.)
    Bruce mentions Billy (usually "wild billy" a lot in his first couple albums.) From what he tells us, wild billy is also a crazy cat. Is he the same guy in this song?
    Portofinoon January 21, 2014   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationLove this song - maybe my favorite of all his songs.
    But I think it's about a love affair with heroin that comes between the protagonist and a girlfriend.

    "Junk man" is the singer, and "junk" is common slang for heroin. And the "fish lady" (girlfriend) won't take/hook up to the train (drugs) because
    "She's afraid them tracks are gonna slow her down
    And when she turns this boy'll be gone".

    Tracks are what you get on your arm when you shoot heroin, and she doesn't want them in her life. And "this boy'll be gone" because he'll be lost in a drug haze (or possibly dead). The "Seranade" is getting high. The "jazz man" is another reference to the dealer. Notice:

    "Hey vibes man, hey jazz man, play me your serenade
    Any deeper blue and you're playin' in your grave".

    He means his high (seranade) is as deep as it can get without overdose/death.

    So "sometimes you just have to walk on" means the "fish lady" who won't shoot up has to leave the "junk man", at least for the moment, and he's too "gone"/high to notice.

    So this is a very different perspective to Jungleland. It's the perspective of a junky who longs for the embrace of heroin, rather than an outside perspective of its evils.
    BobDon October 09, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General Commentive got the first!!!!!! the last song on the wild, the innocent and the e street shuffle......one of my favorites.......wish i had it live......
    dasquien!on July 18, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is similar to BTR's closer, Jungleland. A nearly 10-minute rock-opera is the best way to describe these two songs. It's simply invigorating to listen to.
    coldfoldson July 21, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwhat a beautiful song
    deeewoohon July 13, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA Bruce classic, this song has been a best friend to me over the decades. So much beauty, imagry and emotion. A heartfelt vocal. I hope kids today understand this music - shame to see it go by the wayside as time moves on. Listen to your junk man.....he's singing....
    tsma120on January 30, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentanother one of Bruces best in my oppinion. very good song.
    aldo1980on May 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThis song is so sensual and sexy.
    JEMerificon October 15, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLove it. So bluesey and dirty. Like a lot of early Bruce, the meaning is somewhat cryptic and obscure. But maybe that IS the meaning.
    Tig45on February 23, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPete Yorn does a pretty great cover of this song on the extra disc from 'Music For The Morning After' - not quite Bruce, but good nonetheless.
    sugErspunon September 18, 2006   Link

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