Bruce Springsteen – Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

A great song with an R&B feel to it. Little Steven directed the horn section. Bruce sings it like it’s his last day on earth…like many of his other songs. Tenth Avenue runs through E Street in Belmar, New Jersey. The band got their name from the street, which is where they used to rehearse. Springsteen, however, has said that he has no idea what a “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” is.

The song peaked at #83 in the Billboard 100 in 1976. It was off the Born To Run album that propelled him to stardom.

The “Big Man” in the third verse is Clarence Clemons…the saxophone player.  Springsteen met him when Clemons came into a club in Asbury Park, N.J., where Bruce was playing. It was a stormy night, and the door flew off the hinges when Clemons opened it. Springsteen would talk about how he “Literally blew the door off the place.”
In Clemons’ autobiography Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales, he explained: “It was one of those nor’easters – cold, raining, lightning and thunder. Now, this is God’s honest truth. I open the door to the club and a gust of wind blew the door right out of my hand and down the street. So here I am, a big black guy, in Asbury Park, with lightning flashing behind me. I said to Bruce, ‘I want to sit in.’ He says, ‘Sure, anything you want.'”


From Songfacts

This tells the story of the E Street Band coming together. On Springsteen’s first album in 1973, he didn’t use a lot of backup musicians, but on his next one The E Street band was crucial to the sound. Later on, Springsteen released the albums Nebraska and The Ghost Of Tom Joad without the band, but they didn’t sell nearly as well as the ones they played on.

Clemons was working as a social worker at the time and playing in a Jersey Shore bar band when he got his big break with Bruce.

At many of their early shows, this was the first song in the set.

Springsteen used this to introduce the band on the 1999 E Street Band Reunion tour. He would explain what each member brought to the group (Roy Bittan – Foundation, Little Steven – Soul, etc.), ending with Clemons. Some nights the band members did short solos as they were introduced.

“Bad Scooter” in the opening line, “Teardrops on the city Bad Scooter searching for his groove” is Springsteen. Note the initials are the same.

While touring with “the other band” during his 1992/93 tour promoting the Human Touch and Lucky Town albums, Springsteen sometimes brought out Clarence “Big Man” Clemons to play his usual sax part in this song. When introduced, the crowd always gave the big man a huge ovation. >>

After imploring the audience to put down the guacamole dip and chicken fingers (we were actually eating chicken wings, but anyway…) Springsteen played this as the first song of his performance at halftime of the 2009 Super Bowl between the Cardinals and Steelers.

Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

Tear drops on the city, Bad Scooter searching for his groove
Seem like the whole world walking pretty and you can’t find the room to move
Well, everybody better move over, that’s all
‘Cause I’m running on the bad side and I got my back to the wall
Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out

Well, I was stranded in the jungle trying to take in all the heat they was giving
The night is dark but the sidewalk’s bright and lined with the light of the living
From a tenement window a transistor blasts
Turn around the corner, things got real quiet real fast
I walked into a Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out

And I’m all alone, I’m all alone
(And kid, you better get the picture)
And I’m on my own, I’m on my own
And I can’t go home

When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band
From the coastline to the city, all the little pretties raise their hands
I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh
When Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half
With the Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze-out
Tenth Avenue freeze
I’m talking ’bout a Tenth
Oh, nothing but a Tenth
I’m talking ’bout a Tenth
I’m talking bout a Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth
Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, Tenth, I’m talking ’bout a
Tenth Avenue freeze-out…

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

19 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen – Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”

  1. What a story on how Clemons first played with them. Someone needs to pay tribute to it in a movie at some point. The whole CD rocks. The Boss is Da Man. Or should I say Bad Scooter can really peel rubber?

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I saw them once in the 90s and I saw Bruce playing just acoustic on a tour…I was behind the E street band but it still was great… they played for nearly 4 hours

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I love his writing… I will say this…you see him live…even today…he gives you your money’s worth.


      1. I never pay attention to the politics in songs….but Bono is saving the world Vic…can’t you see that? lol


      2. It’s not so much his music or writing. I love Human Touch, Brilliant Disguise, Trapped, Murder, Inc., Born To Run, I’m On Fire, Tunnel Of Love…

        It’s when he opens his mouth. Just because you are a rock star doesn’t mean you are a genius that needs to impart knowledge to the masses. Get over yourself. Stardom explodes heads.

        Liked by 1 person

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