Bruce Springsteen – TOP56-songs: 46 – Kitty’s BackBruce Springsteen – TOP56-biisit: 46 – Kitty’s Back

From the album The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973).

As the first track from the 70s comes Kitty’s Back. It’s the third track from 1973’s album The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle which almost knocks on the gates of progressive rock. During those days The E Street Band wasn’t at it’s current, best-known form: on this track it’s Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez on drums with his jazzy playing style, which fits on WIESS-album great. David Sancious plays the keyboards and the organ solo on this track is his playing. Sancious has worked as a top-class session musician after the E Street Band, playing with for example Sting and Peter Gabriel.

The guitar intro is played by Bruce himself in his recognizable tone. When viewed from a musical point of view Kitty’s Back has nuances that have not been seen since on Springsteen’s catalogue. Tempo changes, jazz chords and even controlled chaos. The song’s structure is also rambling: it’s not just verse + refrain.

Especially in the beginning of his career Bruce used concrete names on his main characters. In Kitty’s Back we get to meet several in addition to the main character: Catlong, Kitty’s former boyfriend; Sally; Big Pretty, with whom Kitty left. And all these are mentioned in just the first verse.

Catlong sighs holding Kitty’s black tooth
She left to marry some top cat, ain’t it the cold truth
And there hasn’t been a tally since Sally left the alley
Since Kitty left with Big Pretty things have got pretty thin
It’s tight on this fence since them young dudes are musclin’ in

On his first two albums Bruce’s lyrics are at times almost like stream of consciousness. Jack Knife and Catlong may be the same character. What do you do when your valentine leaves? One can only sigh “what do you do”.

Jack Knife cries ’cause baby’s in a bundle
She goes running nightly, lightly through the jungle
And them tin cans are explodin’ out in the ninety-degree heat
Cat somehow lost his baby down on Bleecker Street
It’s sad but it sure is true
Cat shrugs his shoulders, sits back and sighs
Ooh, what can I do, ooh, what can I do?

After the solos there’s a change, however. “So get right, get tight, get down”. Kitty is coming back.

Catlong lies back bent on a trash can,
Flashing lights cut the night, dude in the white says he’s the man
Well you better learn to move fast when you’re young or you’re not long around
Cat somehow lost his Kitty down in the city pound
So get right, get tight, get down
Well who’s that down at the end of the alley?
She’s been gone so long

The song explodes one more time: “Kitty’s back in town”. Although Catlong knows Kitty has done wrong, he can’t do anything about his feelings. ”She’s so soft, she’s so blue”. And a look into her eyes finalizes the feel: there’s nothing he can

Kitty’s back in town, here she comes now
Kitty’s back in town

Now Cat knows his Kitty’s been untrue
And that she left him for a city dude
But she’s so soft, she’s so blue
When he looks into her eyes
He just sits back and sighs
Ooh, what can I do, ooh, what can I do?

Why is Kitty’s Back on this list, then? It’s one of the best examples of the E Street Band’s playing, which Epe Helenius once described as “stretchy as a rubber glove”. The composition is meandering and a demonstration of young Springsteen’s ambition and vision. The lyrics continue with his mid-70s style of street poetry.

Kitty’s back grew as a massive live song already in the 70s, when it could stretch into a 20-minute jam with countless instrumental solos. Still in the 2010s it works as a similar live song: here’s a video from 2014’s tour in Australia.

Albumilta The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973).

Ensimmäisenä 70-luvun raitana listalle ilmaantuu Kitty’s Back. Vuonna 1973 julkaistun The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle-levyn kolmas raita, jossa kolkutellaan liki progresiivisen rockin portteja. Tuohon aikaan E Street Band ei ollut vielä nykyisessä, tunnetuimmassa muodossaan: rummuissa oli Vini ”Mad Dog” Lopez, jonka jazzahtava tyyli sopi WIESS-levylle mainiosti, kun taas toisena kosketinsoittajana toimi David Sancious, jonka käsialaa on muunmuassa tässä laulussa kuultava urkusoolo. Sancious on sittemmin ansioitunut todella kovana sessiosoittajana tehden yhteistyötä mm. Stingin ja Peter Gabrielin kanssa.

Alun kitarasoolosta vastaa Bruce itse tunnistettavalla soundillaan. Musiikillisesti katsottuna Kitty’s Backissa on nyansseja, jollaisia ei Springsteenin tuotannossa ole sittemmin juuri näkynyt. Temponvaihdoksia, jazz-sointuja ja jopa hallittua kaaosta. Lisäksi kuullaan parikin sooloa, joiden määrä liveversiossa tuppaa moninkertaistumaan. Kappaleen rakennekin on rönsyilevä: ei kuljeta vain säkeistön ja kertosäkeen väliä.

Varsinkin Brucen alku-uran lauluissa päähenkilöt ovat monesti konkreettisia, nimettyjä hahmoja. Kitty’s Backissa tavataan nimihenkilön lisäksi monia muitakin: Catlong, Kittyn entinen poikaystävä; Sally; Big Pretty, jonka mukaan Kitty lähti. Ja nämä kaikki ensimmäisessä säkeistössä.

Catlong sighs holding Kitty’s black tooth
She left to marry some top cat, ain’t it the cold truth
And there hasn’t been a tally since Sally left the alley
Since Kitty left with Big Pretty things have got pretty thin
It’s tight on this fence since them young dudes are musclin’ in

Kahdella ensimmäisellä levyllä Brucen tekstit ovat ajoittain liki tajunnanvirtamaisia. Jack Knife ja Catlong taitavat olla sama hahmo. Mitäpä siinä teet, kun mielitietty lähtee? Voi vain huokailla, että minkäs teet.

Jack Knife cries ’cause baby’s in a bundle
She goes running nightly, lightly through the jungle
And them tin cans are explodin’ out in the ninety-degree heat
Cat somehow lost his baby down on Bleecker Street
It’s sad but it sure is true
Cat shrugs his shoulders, sits back and sighs
Ooh, what can I do, ooh, what can I do?

Soolojen jälkeen kuitenkin tapahtuu käänne. ”So get right, get tight, get down”. Kitty on tulossa takaisin.

Catlong lies back bent on a trash can,
Flashing lights cut the night, dude in the white says he’s the man
Well you better learn to move fast when you’re young or you’re not long around
Cat somehow lost his Kitty down in the city pound
So get right, get tight, get down
Well who’s that down at the end of the alley?
She’s been gone so long

Laulu räjähtää kerran vielä käyntiin: ”Kitty’s back in town”. Vaikka Catlong tietää että Kitty on tehnyt väärin, hän ei voi tunteilleen mitään. ”She’s so soft, she’s so blue”. Ja katse silmiin viimeistelee tunteen: eipä sille mitään voi.

Kitty’s back in town, here she comes now
Kitty’s back in town

Now Cat knows his Kitty’s been untrue
And that she left him for a city dude
But she’s so soft, she’s so blue
When he looks into her eyes
He just sits back and sighs
Ooh, what can I do, ooh, what can I do?

Miksi Kitty’s Back sitten on tällä listalla? Se on yksi parhaista albumille päätyneistä esimerkeistä E Street Bandin soittamisesta, jota Epe Helenius joskus kuvaili ”venyväksi kuin kumihansikas”. Sävellys on polveileva ja osoitus nuoren Springsteenin kunnianhimosta ja visioista. Teksti puolestaan jatkaa 70-luvun puolivälin katurunoustyyliä.

Kitty’s Back kasvoi jo 70-luvulla massiviiseksi livejärkäleeksi, joka saattoi venähtää liki 20-minuuttiseksi jamiksi lukemattomien soolojen kera. Vielä 2010-luvullakin se toimii samanlaisena keikkajyränä: ohessa video vuodelta 2014 Australian rundilta.