I Don’t Want To Go Home (Live) (1981)

Southside Johnny

Written by Steve Van Zandt
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I don't want to go home Southside JohnnyThe live version of “I Don’t Want To Go Home” (at the Agora Club In Cleveland, 1978) is as good as Rock-N-Roll gets. The emotional force, the longing, the desire to rock the night away, stay young forever, and the despair mingled with euphoria make the song the embodiment of all that R&R aspires to, maybe all it should aspire to.

Bruce Springsteen, Little Steve Van Zandt and Clarence Clemons joined Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes at the fabled venue on Cleveland’s 24th Street after finishing up their own concert across town. They huffed and they puffed and blew the house down. To call it luminous is like calling New York a big city.

It has the same punchy power as Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour,” or “Mustang Sally.” In fact “I Don’t Want To Go Home” drinks from the same spring that made the Stax-Volt labels a flourishing 1960s’ Soul/Funk fountainhead, the same waters that brought forth Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Aretha Franklin, Booker T. & The M.G.s, Eddie Floyd, and the Bar-Kays.

As live as it gets

“I Don’t Want To Go Home” is like a diamond in a shimmering tiara, for the other songs played in the small concert hall by the assembled stars – for instance, “The Fever” and Sam Cooke’s sexy “We’re Having A Party,” the finale –are great performances by themselves. The show satisfies the first two dictates of Rock – it ought to be crazy-good fun and it should heal the weak and weary spirit. Hot, sweaty, no room to move, on the wings of tamper-proof feelings.

Note: Lyrics below are the studio-version published lyrics. The live lyrics are fluid.

Oh I know it’s late
But I don’t want to go home
I’m in no hurry baby time can wait
Cause I don’t want to go home 

I dont want to trio

Johnny, Steve Van Zandt and Bruce working it at the Agora

Listen to the man sing his song
I don’t want to go home
I don’t mind if it takes all night long
Cause I don’t want to go home 

I know we had to try 
To reach up and touch the sky, baby 
Whatever happened to you and I 
That I don’t want to go home?

Lord, look at how all the people stare
Said I don’t want to go home
In their minds they’ve all been there
I don’t want to go home 

I know the words to this song are real
But, oh, I don’t want to go home
I know he’s talking ‘bout the way I feel
And I don’t want to go home 

I know we had to try
To reach up and touch the sky, baby 
Whatever happened to you and I
That I don’t want to go home? 

I dont want to agoraI want to hear people laughing
and having a good time
I want to know why
She told me she had to go
Why did she leave me lonely? 

I know that it’s time to go
But I don’t want to go home
You can play – play your blues,
Play ‘em soft and low
Cause I don’t want to go home

I know we had to try
To reach up and touch the sky, baby
Whatever happened to you and I
That I don’t want to go home?

I don’t want to go, believe me, darling
I don’t want to go home
Don’t wanna be all alone
I don’t want to go home, baby

Ain’t nobody waitin’ at home
Baby, won’t you please come home

The show was broadcast on the radio to three million listeners in the Midwest. This music comes not from an office suite or a hit factory on Sunset or Music Row.

I dont want to coupleIt doesn’t just come from the heart. It is heart. So, so, so much heart.

It makes you yearn to go back.

Back in time to that one night in your life that was something even greater than magic.

The true you, the best you, with the best girl or guy you ever had.
Maybe the one who got away, or the one you’re still sitting next to. Makes no matter…

There is a terrific vocal duet between Southside Johnny and Springsteen, guys who come from the same sweet spot in time and location. Johnny is at his peak, and while Bruce is the superstar, he is gracious enough to hand his throne over for three-and-a-half burnished minutes.

No flashy guitar solos. No drummers showing off. Nothing fancy. Just an exploration of the geothermal forces that govern Rock-N-Roll. You know, the Rock-N-Roll that will never die.

Does it get any better? Prove it.

mangoids
  • Bob Seger called the performance “The greatest Rock-N-Roll show I ever heard.”
  • “I’d like to thank Cleveland for supporting us,” Springsteen said when he appeared there on another tour with just the E Street Band. “When we came here, we got some respect.”

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