Cookies ( The ) - On Broadway

First performance: 14/10/1974


Bruce intented to play the song once:
1974-10-04 Avery Fisher Hall, New York City, NY
Bruce had this song on a setlist but unfortunately the front section of the stage collapsed before he got a chance. We have no record of Springsteen ever playing "On Broadway".
It was scheduled as one show, with Springsteen & The E Street Band the sole artist on the bill. Chaos reigned near the end of this show and a Brucebase reader who attended explains why: "My wife and I were in front of the stage during "Quarter To Three" when the first two rows of seats next to us just disappeared, the left side of the stage and first couple of rows fell about six feet. A couple of monitors fell in where the people were seated but it didn't appear that anyone got hurt. The encore was abruptly ended however".

For this concert we are fortunate to have two unique items; handwritten setlists penned not by Bruce, but by Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici. Prior to every show Bruce would compose his setlist in the green room, just as he does today. Rather than make copies, the band would then copy his setlist in order to have it in their own handwriting. Usually these setlist copies would be made on a small memo pad and disappear by the end of the show, however Avery Fisher Hall had their own music stands, and so the setlists were written on larger sheets of paper. These two pages were picked up in the green room after the show by Art Reilly, a member of Springsteen's lighting crew. Several interesting nuggets of information can be gleaned from these setlists.

The most notable song however is the listed closer, The Cookies / The Drifters' "On Broadway", which Springsteen intended to play after "Quarter To Three" - hardly surprising given Avery Fisher Hall's close proximity to Broadway. Unfortunately the front section of the stage collapsed before he got a chance. We have no record of Springsteen ever playing "On Broadway".


"On Broadway" is a song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in collaboration with the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The song was originally recorded by the Cookies although ' The Crystals' version beat them to release and featured an upbeat lyric in which the protagonist is still on her way to Broadway and sings "I got to get there soon, or I'll just die". The song was played as a shuffle. When Leiber/Stoller let it be known that the Drifters had booked studio time for the following day and were a song short, Mann/Weil forwarded "On Broadway".  Leiber and Stoller liked the song but felt that it was not quite right and the four held an overnight brainstorming session which culminated in the better-known version of the song, now with a rock oriented groove and with a more bluesy feel which matched the new lyric in which the singer was now actually on Broadway and having a hard time.

Other cover versions

  • The Drifters version
    A young Phil Spector played the distinctive lead guitar solo on The Drifters' recording.The recording by the Drifters was a hit, reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. The Drifters' version of the song was featured in a 1971 television public service announcement for Radio Free Europe (RFE). The Hungarian expatriate announcer is shown entering the RFE studio announcing "On Broadway", after which young Hungarians are shown listening to the "In sound from Outside".

Bruce on the artist


They say the neon lights are bright
On Broadway
They say there's always magic in the air
But when you're walkin' down that street
And you ain't have enough to eat
The glitter rubs right off and you're nowhere
They say the women treat you fine
On Broadway
But lookin' at them just gives me the blues
How ya gonna make some time
When all you got is one thin dime
And one thin dime won't even shine your shoes
They say that I won't last too long
On Broadway
I'll catch a Greyhound bus for home they all say
But they get wrong, I know they are
'Cause I can play this here guitar
I won't quit till I'm a star
On Broadway
On Broadway
On Broadway