Mary Queen of Arkansas

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"Mary Queen of Arkansas"
Song by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
ReleasedJanuary 5, 1973
Recorded914 Sound Studios, Blauvelt, New York
LabelColumbia Records
Songwriter(s)Bruce Springsteen
Producer(s)Mike Appel, Jim Cretecos
Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. track listing

"Mary Queen of Arkansas" is a song by Bruce Springsteen from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., released in 1973. Springsteen played "Mary Queen of Arkansas" at his audition for John H. Hammond at CBS Records, who signed him to his first record contract on May 2, 1972, although Hammond was less impressed with this song than with "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" or with "Growin' Up".[1][2] The day after signing the contract, Springsteen recorded "Mary Queen of Arkansas" as part of a 12-song demo for Hammond.[1][2] The demo version of the song was released on Tracks in 1998.[3]


The song is one of the slower tracks on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., played on acoustic guitar, and the lyrics of the song may be about a drag queen. Bruce confirmed this at a concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Soldiers and Sailors Hall on 5-22-14 while speaking to the audience.[1][4] The lyrics are dense and reminiscent of Bob Dylan.[1][4][5] "Mary Queen Of Arkansas" is a slow, quiet acoustic song with a faint country feel to it. The lyrics contain repeated references to the circus (a theme explored further on his The Wild, the Innocent & the E-Street Shuffle) as in "Well I'm just a lonely acrobat, the live wire is my trade" and "The big top is for dreamers, we can take the circus all the way to the border." It comes across as a love song dedicated to "Mary."


  • Bruce Springsteen - vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica


  1. ^ a b c d Rob Kirkpatrick (2007). The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen. pp. 13–16. ISBN 0-275-98938-0.
  2. ^ a b "The Demo Sessions". Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  3. ^ "Tracks". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  4. ^ a b Basham, P. (2005). The Pocket Essential Bruce Springsteen. pp. 18–19. ISBN 1-903047-97-8.
  5. ^ Humphries, P. (1996). Bruce Springsteen. p. 5. ISBN 0-7119-5304-X.