Jersey Girl (5:08)

Cover of Used Songs (1973-1980)

From Used Songs (1973-1980) and 11 other releases

“Jersey Girl” is a song composed and originally sung by American singer-songwriter Tom Waits from his 1980 album Heartattack and Vine. It subsequently became best known in a live version by Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s.

Waits wrote the song with his future wife Kathleen Brennan, who had been living in New Jersey.[1] It’s one of Waits’ most tender songs, and captures a feeling of romantic longing despite its somewhat gritty details:

Down the shore everything’s alright,
You with your baby, on a Saturday night …

Don’t you know that all my dreams come true —
When I’m walkin’ down the street with you

Sing sha la la la la la, sha la la la …
I’m in love with a Jersey girl.
Waits would state in a 1980 interview that, “I never thought I would catch myself saying ‘sha la la’ in a song … This is my first experiment with ‘sha la la.’” Waits’ recording includes drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and glockenspiel, in an arrangement that captures the feeling of the seashore by way of “Under the Boardwalk” or “Spanish Harlem”.

Rock writer Stephen Holden saw echoes of Springsteen in “Jersey Girl” even before Springsteen ever performed it, and, writing for Rolling Stone, said that the song’s “eager romanticism becomes warped in the caldron of what’s left of Waits’ voice,” en route to “morbid pathos”.

The song is also included on Waits’ compilation albums Bounced Checks (1981), Anthology of Tom Waits (1985), and Used Songs, 1973-1980 (2001). Waits also included a quiet performance of it during his 1999 appearance on VH1 Storytellers.

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