Jimmy Reed - Bright Lights, Big City

First performance: 01/09/1971


The song was performed 3 times and once as a snippet:
One show, triple bill, with the five-member Bruce Springsteen Band headlining. The support acts for this show were originally Sweet Chariot and Tumbleweed, but it appears that the latter were replaced at the last minute by The Joe Hagstrom Squeak Band. This was an outdoor show orchestrated by Tinker West’s Blah Productions. Garfield Park is located at the intersection of Broadway and Ocean Ave, near the ocean. The line-up for this show is Springsteen, Van Zandt, Sancious, Tallent and Lopez. Although Bruce handles all the lead vocals, the performance is unusual in that Springsteen is on piano for most of these ten songs from this show. Sancious plays the organ and Steven Van Zandt handles much of the guitar chores. Tinker West guests on congas on "Dance Dance Dance" and the rousing finale "Jambalaya" (which also features an unidentified walk-on troupe of backing vocalists consisting of inner circle troops and members of both undercard bands). Highlights of this show are "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"(the only known Springsteen performance), as well as the only known audio of two Springsteen compositions.

Played during one show, with The Bruce Springsteen Band the sole act on the bill. This was opening night of 9-show residency that encompassed three of the four weekends in February. Southside Johnny was a guest on the first weekend. However Southside’s harp playing is only heard on one track, "Bright Lights, Big City".

Made a surprise re-appearance when Bruce guested with John Eddie At the Stone Pony
  • Snippet
Early show: "Kitty's Back" includes a snippet of "Bright Lights, Big City" during a show in 1974. Two shows on one evening, double bill, with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band opening for headliner Bonnie Raitt. An excellent show that includes a unique cover of "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman" . Performed by Bruce in the 'comedy mode' as recorded by The Starlets in 1961, the likely inspiration :


"Bright Lights, Big City" is a classic blues song which was written and first recorded by American bluesman Jimmy Reed in 1961. Besides being an integral part of the standard blues repertoire,"Bright Lights, Big City" has appealed to a variety of artists, including country and rock musicians, who have recorded their interpretations of the song. Called a "textbook Jimmy and Mama Reed duet","Bright Lights, Big City" was a collaborative writing effort between Reed and his wife, Mary "Mama" Reed. It is a cautionary tale about urban life, with the narrator lamenting the loss of his wife or girlfriend to the nightlife and enticement of an unnamed city: The song was one of Reed's most popular songs .

Bruce on the artist


Bright lights, big city
Gone to my baby's head
Bright lights, big city
Gone to my baby's head

I'd tried to tell the woman but she doesn't believe a word I said
Go light pretty baby... gonna need my help some day
It's all right pretty baby...gonna need my help some day

You're gonna wish you listened to some of those things I said

Go ahead pretty baby
Oh, honey knock yourself out
Go ahead pretty baby
Oh honey knock yourself out

I still love you baby cause you don't know what it's all about

Bright lights, big city
Gone to my baby's head
Bright lights, big city
Gone to my baby's head