When I first heard it I loved the feel of this song. When Bruce started to sing Crazy Janey and her mission man, Were back in the alley tradin’ hands, ‘Long came Wild Billy with his friend G-Man, All duded up for Saturday night…I knew it was a winner.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered this and it peaked at #40 in the Billboard 100 a few months after they peaked at #1 with Springsteen’s Blinded By The Light. Bruce’s version didn’t chart but I do like both songs better than their more successful covers.
This one is from Bruce’s great debut album Greetings from Ashbury Park released in 1973. For anyone first getting into Springsteen, I would recommend this one with the more obvious ones. This is an earlier post I had of the album. I had the album and cassette that I wore out in my car.
On a personal note. The band I was in many years ago covered this song at a club and I saw a guy standing on a chair with a lit lighter in his hand during this song. He came up and thanked us over and over for playing it… He was from Philadelphia and had seen Springsteen 17 times at that point.
Greasy Lake is a lake near Howel NJ. It gets its name from the idea that homeless people living around the lake used it for bathing, washing dishes, etc. The homeless people were known as “Gypsy Angels” or the “Spirits In The Night.”
Part of Springsteen’s first album, it was a #40 US hit for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band when they covered it in 1977. They also covered “Blinded By The Light” and “For You” from Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.
Springsteen wrote this after Columbia Records rejected his first attempt at an album, telling him to make some songs that could be played on the radio. He came up with this and “Blinded By The Light.”
This was Springsteen’s second single. It was released only in the US and did not chart.
The lyrics refer to “Route 88,” a road that runs through Ocean County, New Jersey. Springsteen would later sing about “Highway 9” in “Born To Run.”
Along with “Blinded By The Light,” this was one of 2 songs on Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. featuring Clarence Clemons on saxophone. Springsteen’s band didn’t have a name when this was recorded. By his next album, they were The E Street Band – named after the street where they used to rehearse.
This has been a popular live song throughout Springsteen’s career. He still occasionally plays it live.
The version on Live 1975-1985 was recorded at The Roxy in 1978.
Spirit in the Night
Crazy Janey and her mission man
Were back in the alley tradin’ hands
‘Long came Wild Billy with his friend G-Man
All duded up for Saturday night
Well, Billy slammed on his coaster brakes
And said, “Anybody want to go on up to Greasy Lake?
It’s about a mile down on the dark side of Route 88
I got a bottle of rosé so let’s try it
We’ll pick up Hazy Davy and Killer Joe
And I’ll take you all out to where the gypsy angels go
They’re build like light
And they dance like spirits in the night (all night), in the night (all night)
Oh, you don’t know what they can do to you
Spirits in the night (all night), in the night (all night)
Stand up right now and let them shoot through you”
Well now, Wild Billy was a crazy cat
And he shook some dust out of his coonskin cap
He said, “Trust some of this, it’ll show you where you’re at
Or at least it’ll help you really feel it”
By the time we made it up to Greasy Lake
I had my head out the window and Janey’s fingers were in the cake
I think I really dug her ’cause I was too loose to fake
I said, “I’m hurt.” She said, “Honey, let me heal it”
And we danced all night to a soul fairy band
And she kissed me just right, like only a lonely angel can
She felt so nice
Just as soft as a spirit in the night (all night), in the night (all night)
Janey don’t know what she do to you
Spirit in the night (all night), in the night (all night)
Stand right up and let her shoot through me
Now, the night was bright and the stars threw light
On Billy and Davy dancin’ in the moonlight
They were down near the water in a stone mud fight
Killer Joe gone passed out on the lawn
Well now, Hazy Davy got really hurt
He ran into the lake in just his socks and his shirt
Me and Crazy Janey was makin’ love in the dirt
Singin’ our birthday songs
Janey said it was time to go
So we closed our eyes and said goodbye to Gypsy Angel Row
Felt so right
Together we moved like spirits in the night (all night), in the night (all night)…