The Ghost Of Tom Joad

Album: The Ghost Of Tom Joad (1995)
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  • Men walking 'long the railroad tracks
    Going someplace, there's no going back
    Highway patrol choppers coming up over the ridge
    Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
    Shelter line stretching 'round the corner
    Welcome to the new world order
    Families sleeping in the cars in the southwest
    No home, no job, no peace, no rest

    Well the highway is alive tonight
    But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes
    I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
    Searching for the ghost of Tom Joad

    He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag
    Preacher lights up a butt and he takes a drag
    Waiting for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
    In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
    You got a one-way ticket to the promised land
    You got a hole in your belly and a gun in your hand
    Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
    Bathing in the city's aqueduct

    Go!

    Well the highway is alive tonight
    Where it's headed everybody knows
    I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
    Waiting on the ghost of Tom Joad

    Now Tom said, "Mom, wherever there's a cop beating a guy
    Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
    Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
    Look for me, Mom, I'll be there

    Wherever somebody's fighting for a place to stand
    Or a decent job or a helping hand
    Wherever somebody's struggling to be free
    Look in their eyes, Ma, and you'll see me"
    Yeah!

    The highway is alive tonight
    Where it's headed everybody knows
    I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
    With the ghost of old Tom Joad Writer/s: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
    Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 19

  • Anyone from UsThank you Bruce Springsteen and band. God bless you!
  • Jack Nelson from Portsmouth, NhMy favorite version of this song is on the bonus NPR CD issued in 2007 as part of a fund raising campaign. It was recorded with the Sessions band in Dublin but the song is not on the Sessions CD or DVD. Great contribution from the horn section.
  • Kipperlenko from Canberra, AustraliaJust saw Bruce and Morello do this in Sydney last night, best song of the Gig for me, Morello smashed it, I think at one point he was playing with his face :)
    Agree with Evan above, youtube it.
  • Ethan from Sunderland, VtBruce is a devotee of Woody Guthrie. Woody's son Arlo tells about how his dad wrote his song "Tom Joad" [http://www.woodyguthrie.org/Lyrics/Tom_Joad.htm] after reading John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath." After writing the song, Woody apparently got a letter from Steinbeck saying in essence, "Damn you! You wrote in twelve verses what took me a whole book. " Arlo then goes on to tell how the Steinbeck - Guthrie feud was only healed when Arlo married off his daughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie (a great singer/songwriter/story teller in her own right) , to Johnny Irion, Steinbeck's grandson. Is a great story, as only Arlo could tell it.
  • Gladys from Chicago, IlPerfect example of a song slightly ahead of its time... written about a character from a book set in the Great Depression, and back in 1995 when it was released, the Great Depression was some chapter in a history book....

    ...and yet, here we are again.
  • Evan from Washington Dc, Dcthis may have been a bathroom break years ago and i would have to agree, but not the way the band performs it now. An incredible solo is placed in it usually by nils that is just absolutely incredible
    i recommend youtubing this
  • William from Carlsbad, NmWatch the Rock and Roll hall of fame concert, Bruce does this with Tom Morello and Morello breaks into a solo that is just awesome, really good to watch.
  • Gregg from Southampton, United Kingdomif you really did miss the song for a bathroom break and dont regret it because ur not a fan of tom joad your not a fan of bruce springsteen your a fan of bruce springsteens catchy tunes which are unmistakably good but the real beauty in "the boss" is when you hear the words behind the music such as Born in the USA's "sent me of to a foreign land to kill the yellow man" Tom Joad just happens to be more about the words than the music. If you just like the tunes though i suggest you find his live in Dublin album with the sessions band..its amazing
  • Airk from Skagway, Ak"I don't think people who 'took a bathroom break' while bruce performed this songs are real Springsteen's fans."

    Ever heard of the term "ya gotta go, when ya gotta go."?
  • Bruce from Johnstown, PaVery Dylanesk.
  • Bruce from Columbia, ScI really like this song. Reminds me of Dylan.
    Bob Dylan that is rather than Dylan Thomas.
  • Kyle from Belleville, CanadaJust because people take a piss break during this song, doesn't make them "not real fans." Get a life, people can pee when they want to pee, or grab a beer when they want. I am not a big Tom Joad fan, but I love mostly everything else. Not a real fan?
  • Aaron from Brisbane, AustraliaThis song is one of bruce springsteen's most beautiful songs, one of his best, as Carlos said anyone who took a bathroom break during this song can't call themselves real fans
  • Megan from West Liberty, OhThe line "He's waitin' for the time when the last shall be first and the first shall be last" is based on a Bible verse, Matthew 20:16, which states, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last" (NIV).
  • Julian from Oakland, ArThe great Henry Fonda plays Tom Joad in the movie version of The Grapes of Wrath.
  • Don from San Antonio, TxRage also has it on their home video. Morello playes it on a Gibson double neck. This is a MUST SEE for Bruce OR Rage fans.
  • Sylvain from Montreal, CanadaSpringsteen once performed here in Montreal to promote the "Ghost of Tom Joad" Album. Intersting is the fact that he did not play at our Local Arena or Olympic stadium. Instead, he went to "Place des Arts," which is usually reserved for classical music or Opera. He was alone with his Guitar and Harmonica. I'still bite my tongue because i missed the show.
  • Carlos from Albacete, SpainI don´t think people who "took a bathroom break" while bruce performed this songs are real Springsteen´s fans.
  • James from Montague, CanadaRage Against the Machine covered this song. They played it live for years, and finally released it on their album of covers called Renegades (their last album).
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