Album version

He lay his blanket underneath the freeway as the evening sky grew dark
Took a sniff of toncho from his coke can, headed through Balboa Park
Where the men in their Mercedes come nightly to employ
In the cool San Diego evening the services of the border boys

He grew up near the Zona Norte with the hustlers and smugglers he hung out with
He swallowed their balloons of cocaine, brought 'em across the Twelfth Street strip
Sleeping in a shelter if the night got too cold
Running from the migra of the border patrol

Past the salvage yard 'cross the train tracks and in through the storm drain
They stretched their blankets out 'neath the freeway and each one took a name
There was X-man and Cochise, Little Spider his sneakers covered in river mud
They come north to California, end up with the poison in their blood

He did what he had to for the money, sometimes he sent home what he could spare
The rest went to high-top sneakers and toncho and jeans like the gavachos wear

One night the border patrol swept Twelfth Street, a big car come fast down the boulevard
Spider stood caught in its headlights, got hit and went down hard
Car sped away, Spider held his stomach, limped to his blanket 'neath the underpass
Lie there tasting his own blood on his tongue, closed his eyes and listened to the cars rushing by so fast



BALBOA PARK is a song written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 1995 album The Ghost Of Tom Joad. The above lyrics are for Bruce Springsteen's album version of BALBOA PARK as released in 1995.

Composition and Recording


The Ghost Of Tom Joad

Following the Jan-Feb 1995 studio reunion with the E Street Band and the release of Greatest Hits, Bruce Springsteen writing activity increased significantly. Between March and September 1995, Springsteen wrote and recorded about two-albums worth of new songs. From the scattered comments made by Springsteen and other session participants, it would seem that over an album's worth of solo material and over an album's worth of band material were recorded during these sessions. The Ghost Of Tom Joad album consist of 7 solo tracks and 5 band tracks. The songs Springsteen recorded solo may have spanned the entire session period and the band sessions appear to have been split into two or three phases during the spring and summer of 1995.

In his 1998 book Songs, Springsteen wrote: "I knew that The Ghost of Tom Joad wouldn't attract my largest audience. But I was sure the songs on it added up to a reaffirmation of the best of what I do. The record was something new, but it was also a reference point to the things I tried to stand for and be about as a songwriter.

The Ghost Of Tom Joad was released on Columbia Records on 21 Nov 1995. It was produced by Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Plotkin. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1997.

Bruce Springsteen -- The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Bruce Springsteen -- The Ghost Of Tom Joad

The Ghost Of Tom Joad features 12 new Springsteen compositions and clocks at 50:16.

Other Official Releases


Bruce Springsteen -- King's Hall, Belfast March 19, 1996
The live 19 Mar 1996 version of BALBOA PARK was released on the King's Hall, Belfast March 19, 1996 official live download in 2017.

Live History: on-tour


Live History: off-tour



As far as it's known, no artist has recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's BALBOA PARK.

Available Versions

List of available versions of BALBOA PARK on this website:

BALBOA PARK [Album version]

Page last updated: 27 Feb 2017