Johnny Bye-Bye

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

Note: Between legs of the River Tour in March 1981, Springsteen recorded a demo (V1) at his home, combining lyrics from Darkness On The Edge Of Town outtake "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)" with some newly written lyrics over new music. This recording can be found on bootlegs 'Fistfull Of Dollars' and 'How Nebraska Was Born' under the title "Bye Bye Johnny". A dark and foreboding arrangement used the discarded lyrics, including the part about Elvis dying, and became a Nebraska-style song.

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." Bruce decided to use those lines in 1981 in the opening verse of a new song that used most of the lyrics from "Come On (Let's Go Tonight)", calling it "Johnny Bye-Bye". He kept the lines about the death of Elvis and added lines about Memphis, all over a bouncy hillbilly blues rhythm. Despite performing the song regularly on the River Tour, Bruce did not record it as part of the January 1982 Nebraska demos at Colts 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 "Johnny Bye-Bye" was recorded on April 27, 1982, at Power Station, New York. This audio does not circulate, but is listed above as V2. In all likelihood, this is a solo take. Studio documentation shows that Springsteen returned to the song in the winter of 1983, with sessions on January 4 and March 9 and 24 all at Bruce's Hollywood Hills converted studio, Thrill Hill West, Los Angeles, CA. According to the Tracks liner notes, the official V3 was recorded in January, 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 at Thrill Hill West 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, 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 did not make the final cut. After the lawyers met, Bruce and Chuck became composing partners, the song now registered as Springsteen-Berry.

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