"Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" is a 1973 song by Bruce Springsteen, from his The Wild, The Innocent, & The E Street Shuffle album, and is especially famed as a concert number for Springsteen and The E Street Band. The song, which clocks in at just over seven minutes, is a story of forbidden love between the singer and the titular Rosalita, whose parents disapprove of his life in a rock and roll band.
Never released as a single and generally unknown upon its initial album release, "Rosalita" began to get FM radio
airplay when an advance version of "Born to Run
" was given out to rock radio stations. As Springsteen gained commercial success, "Rosalita" became one of his most popular airplay tracks, and is still heard on classic rock radio. The song, despite never receiving an official single release, has been lauded hugely by music critics in the years since its release in 1973. On its release Ken Emerson of Rolling Stone
dubbed it "a raucous celebration of desire." George P Pelecanos of Uncut magazine
has called it "One of the great rock'n roll performances, and as close to a perfect song as anyone's ever recorded," while Chris T-T
in the same publication declared "Never mind The Beatles
or The Rolling Stones
, this is the best rock'n roll track of all time." The song is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll
. Its music video
occupies the #71 spot on Rolling Stone
's 1993 list of the top 100 videos
In the early 1980s, many years after the song's initial release, MTV
began showing a music video for the song. The video was a straight concert performance (from a Darkness Tour
performance on July 8
at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
in Phoenix, Arizona
) that included band introductions and numerous adoring females rushing the stage. While only adequate technically, the video captured the energy and playfulness of Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert, and was the first such introduction many casual fans had.
For many years, dating back virtually to when the song was written, "Rosalita" always closed the regular set in Springsteen concerts, often elongated to incorporate extended band introductions. It was the one "sure thing" in a Springsteen set list and celebrated as such. However, on October 19
in the Tacoma Dome
in Tacoma, Washington
, during the Born in the U.S.A. Tour
, this suddenly changed; "Rosalita" was dropped from the show, not to reappear. Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh
said this was done to "disrupt the ritual expectations of the fanatic fans [...] establishing through a burst of creativity just who was
boss [...] he'd liberated the show from an albatross, a song that was too long and had long since stopped breathing." Steven Van Zandt
used this time to shine on backing vocals, as his voice changed on performances of the song from the Born To Run Tours
to the The River Tour
"Rosalita" has ever since made only rare appearances. This has led to fans campaigning for the song to be played, such as holding banners or placards saying "Let Rosie Come Out Tonight!" during shows. (Parallel to Deadheads' longing for "Saint Stephen" and Phish fans' clamoring for "Destiny Unbound.") Springsteen has occasionally granted the wish, though, such as during the last show of the above mentioned tour in 1985 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, or on most of the quick American leg of the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express (it was dropped before the end, and did not appear on the European leg), or on the last night of a 15-show stand at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey on the Reunion Tour in 1999. Finally, during the U.S. outdoor stadium portion of The Rising Tour in Summer 2003, "Rosalita" was inserted into the encores and appeared in all 33 of those shows. Most notable of these performances was during his Australian tour of March 2003 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Many times during the course of the evening the stadium lost power resulting the in P.A. system and the TV screens turning off, often mid-song. Bruce commented "I often say it, but tonight I meant when I say I will NEVER forget this night!"
Bruce repaid the suffering audience with an extra two encores including "Rosalita".
During the 2007–2008 Magic Tour, the song made sporadic appearances, sometimes in reaction to audience signs requesting it. On the July 4 show in Gothenborg, Steven Van Zandt brought back the famous "double-mike" ditty he and Bruce used to do in the 1970s with the song's chorus.