Johnny Bye-Bye

BYE BYE JOHNNY - V2 uncirculating
BYE BYE JOHNNY - V3a 1:45 LM-16 trk 10 / UH / GS
BYE BYE JOHNNY - V3b 1:45 LM-18 trk 13
BYE BYE JOHNNY - V3c 1:39 LM-18 trk 10
JOHNNY BYE-BYE - V3d 1:51 1985 b-side / BACK
BYE BYE JOHNNY - V4 - with the Crickets 2:55 LM-16 trk 11 / MT2 / ESRR
BYE BYE JOHNNY - V5 2:58 LM-17 trk 12 / GS
BYE BYE JOHNNY - V6 3:41 LM-17 trk 13 / GS

Note: While he was resting between legs of the River Tour in March 1981, Bruce glanced at his to-do list, which said "recycle orphaned lyrics from "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)", which had lost it's backing track to "Factory" in 1977, when Bruce changed lyrics and song direction. So he whipped together a demo V1, with new music that he recorded at home in April 1981, recycling the title, too. "Come On (Let's Go Tonight) II" can be found on Nebraska bootlegs, "Fistfull of Dollars" and "How Nebraska Was Born" under the incorrect name, "Bye Bye Johnny". A dark, foreboding arrangement used the discarded lyrics, including the part about Elvis dying, and became a Nebraska-style song.

Just before he was sentenced to three years for being the real-life inspiration for "Child Bride" in 1962, Chuck Berry wrote "Bye Bye Johnny", a sequel to "Johnny B. Goode", where a mother sent her musician son off to Hollywood to be a star. "She drew out all her money from the Southern Trust, and put her little boy aboard the Greyhound Bus" wasn't a big hit for Chuck, but Bruce decided to use those lines in 1981, for a new song that used most of the lyrics from "Come On (Let's Go Tonight) II", calling it "Johnny Bye-Bye" V2. He kept the lines about Elvis dying in 1977, added stuff about Memphis, and had a bouncy hillbilly blues thing going. On May 13, 1981, at Manchester, UK’s Apollo Theatre, Johnny Bye-Bye became the first song since 'The Ties That Bind' in 1978 to be played live before being recorded. Springsteen sang it thirty-two times on the River tour. He did not record it as part of the January 1982 Nebraska demos at Colt’s Neck; the legendary Nebraska version of 'Johnny Bye Bye' does not exist. The version on the tape he sent Landau was almost certainly a live July 1981 recording. When the Nebraska tape was backed up in June 1982 in its entirety, alternate takes and all, there was still no 'Johnny Bye Bye'.

The first studio take of "Bye Bye Johnny" was recorded on April 27, 1982, at the Power Station, New York, during the Electric Nebraska Sessions. This audio does not circulate, but we'll call it V2. What would become the official versions were recorded on January 4, 1983 at Bruce's Hollywood Hills converted studio, Thrill Hill West, Los Angeles, CA, and five different mixes circulate. V3d, released February 6, 1985, as the B-side to "I'm On Fire", features a different drum overdub to that found on the mix chosen for Tracks, V3e. V3b and V3c have slight but noticeable variations in their mixes. V4 and V5 were recorded on March 9, 1983 at Thrill Hill West, Los Angeles, CA, and are different takes of a slower acoustic arrangement with a gentle synthesizer backing, slight lyrical differences and overdubbed with chirping crickets at the start and end. By far the definitive performance is V6, from March 24, 1983 at Thrill Hill West, which includes a poignant extra verse at the end, not found on the other versions. "Johnny Bye-Bye" was included on the July 1983 sequence for "Born In The U.S.A.", but was later deleted. After the lawyers met, Bruce and Chuck became composing partners, the song now registered as Springsteen-Berry.

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