I threw my robe on in the morning, watched the ring on the stove turn to red
Stared hypnotized into a cup of coffee, pulled on my boots and made the bed
Screen door hangin' off its hinges kept bangin' me awake all night
As I look out the window, the only thing in sight
Is dry lightning on the horizon line
It's just dry lightning and you on my mind
I chased the heat of her blood like it was the holy grail
Descend beautiful spirit into the evening pale
Her appaloosa's kickin' in the corral smelling rain
There's a low thunder rolling across the mesquite plain
But there's just dry lightning on the horizon line
It's just dry lightning and you on my mind
I'd drive down to Alvarado street where she danced to make ends meet
I'd spend the night over my gin as she'd talk to her men
Well the piss yellow sun comes bringin' up the day
She said, "Ain't nobody gonna give nobody, what they really need anyway."
You get so sick of the fightin', you lose your fear of the end
I can't lose your memory, the sweet smell of your skin
It's just dry lightning on the horizon line
It's just dry lightning and you on my mind
DRY LIGHTNING 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 DRY LIGHTNING as released in 1995.
Home Demo and Studio Recording
A demo of DRY LIGHTNING is known to have been recorded in early 1993 (see section below for more details). Two takes of the song are available on that tape, one clocking at 3:56 and one at 3:03. The two takes share the same music but they are sung in different keys. This music however is totally different from what ended up being used on the officially released version more than two years later, and the lyrics are about a 70% match to the released version.
DRY LIGHTNING was then recorded sometime between April and June 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Beverly Hills, CA. On this track, Springsteen handles guitar and vocals and is backed up by four musicians: Danny Federici on keyboards, Gary Mallaber on drums, Garry Tallent on bass, and Soozie Tyrell on violin. The track, as well as the rest of the album, was produced by Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Plotkin and recorded and mixed by Toby Scott at Thrill Hill Recording.
The 1993 Home Demo Tape
During an extended break in the World Tour 1992-1993 (Jan-Mar 1993), Springsteen recorded a collection of acoustic guitar demos at his home in Beverly Hills, CA. A private tape of 14 songs from these sessions (or possibly one session) exists, but is not circulating among collectors:
- BABY YOU'RE MISSING
- CROSS ROADS
- DON'T CROSS THAT LINE
- DON'T LET YOUR HEART GROW COLD
- DRY LIGHTNING
- HOUSE ON FIRE
- I DREAMT MY LOVE WAS LOST
- I'M A GHOST IN MY DREAM
- KNIFE IN THE BACK
- ONE FALSE MOVE IS ALL IT TAKES
- VISION SPIRIT
- YOU CAME DOWN
A comment heard on that tape regarding a well-documented news event indicates that most -- or very likely all -- of this audio was recorded on 25 Feb 1993. These recordings are similar in sound quality and recording style to Springsteen's 1979 and 1981 home demos cassette recordings. They are not professional studio recordings. Springsteen utilizes a cassette recorder that he manually stops and starts as needed.
None of these recordings exhibit a finished songwriting product. These are unfinished compositions, both musically and lyrically, and are in varying stages of completeness. However most of these songs show enough musical and lyrical development that it's probable that Springsteen finished them sometime during the 1993-1995 period and they exist as fully realized demo or studio recordings in his archive vault.
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
The Ghost Of Tom Joad features 12 new Springsteen compositions and clocks at 50:16.
Other Official Releases
Other versions of DRY LIGHTNING were also officially released.
The live 19 Mar 1996 version of DRY LIGHTNING was released on the King's Hall, Belfast March 19, 1996 official live download in 2017.
In preparation for The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour, DRY LIGHTNING was performed during the tour's public warm-up rehearsal show that took place on 21 Nov 1995 at State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ.
- 21 Nov 1995 at State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ (public rehearsal)
DRY LIGHTNING was performed 123 times during The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour (128 dates, November 1995 to May 1997); all five omissions took place in late 1996: the 08 Nov 1996 show in Freehold, NJ, the 24-25-26 Nov 1996 shows in Asbury Park, NJ, and the 03 Dec 1996 show in Miami, FL. The live 19 Mar 1996 version of DRY LIGHTNING was released on the King's Hall, Belfast March 19, 1996 official live download in 2017.
- 22 Nov 1995 at Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, NJ
- 26 Nov 1995 at Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
- 27 Nov 1995 at Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
- 29 Nov 1995 at Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA
- 30 Nov 1995 at Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA
- 03 Dec 1995 at Rosemont Theatre, Theatre, IL
- 05 Dec 1995 at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
- 06 Dec 1995 at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
- 08 Dec 1995 at Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA
- 09 Dec 1995 at Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA
- 12 Dec 1995 at Beacon Theatre, New York City, NY
- 13 Dec 1995 at Beacon Theatre, New York City, NY
- 15 Dec 1995 at Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA
- 16 Dec 1995 at Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA
- 17 Dec 1995 at Beacon Theatre, New York City, NY
- 07 Jan 1996 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Montreal, Canada
- 08 Jan 1996 at Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada
- 10 Jan 1996 at Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI
- 11 Jan 1996 at Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI
- 12 Jan 1996 at Stambaugh Auditorium, Youngstown, OH
- 16 Jan 1996 at Cleveland Music Hall, Cleveland, OH
- 17 Jan 1996 at Cleveland Music Hall, Cleveland, OH
- 18 Jan 1996 at Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO
- 22 Jan 1996 at Saenger Performing Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
- 23 Jan 1996 at Jesse H. Jones Hall For The Performing Arts, Houston, TX
- 25 Jan 1996 at Austin Music Hall, Austin, TX
- 26 Jan 1996 at Bronco Bowl, Dallas, TX
- 28 Jan 1996 at Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA
- 12 Feb 1996 at Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany
- 14 Feb 1996 at Kulturpalst, Dresden, Germany
- 15 Feb 1996 at Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle, Munich, Germany
- 17 Feb 1996 at Congress Centrum Hamburg Halle 1, Hamburg, Germany
- 18 Feb 1996 at Phillipshalle, Dusseldorf, Germany
- 21 Feb 1996 at Le Zénith De Paris, Paris, France
- 22 Feb 1996 at Le Zénith De Paris, Paris, France
- 25 Feb 1996 at De Doelen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- 26 Feb 1996 at Koninklijk Theater Carré, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- 28 Feb 1996 at Apollo Theatre, Manchester, England
- 29 Feb 1996 at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England
- 02 Mar 1996 at Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, England
- 03 Mar 1996 at Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland
- 13 Mar 1996 at Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden
- 14 Mar 1996 at Oslo Spektrum, Oslo, Norway
- 16 Mar 1996 at Falkoner Salen, Copenhagen, Denmark
- 19 Mar 1996 at King's Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- 20 Mar 1996 at Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
- 10 Apr 1996 at Auditorium Santa Cecilia, Rome, Italy
- 11 Apr 1996 at Teatro Smeraldo, Milan, Italy
- 13 Apr 1996 at Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova, Italy
- 16 Apr 1996 at Royal Albert Hall, London, England
- 17 Apr 1996 at Royal Albert Hall, London, England
- 19 Apr 1996 at ICC Berlin Saal 1, Berlin, Germany
- 20 Apr 1996 at Koningin Elisabethzaal, Antwerp, Belgium
- 22 Apr 1996 at Royal Albert Hall, London, England
- 24 Apr 1996 at Brixton Academy, London, England
- 25 Apr 1996 at Brixton Academy, London, England
- 27 Apr 1996 at Royal Albert Hall, London, England
- 30 Apr 1996 at Salle Erasme, Strasbourg, France
- 01 May 1996 at Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
- 02 May 1996 at Kongresshaus, Zurich, Switzerland
- 06 May 1996 at Teatro Tivoli, Barcelona, Spain
- 07 May 1996 at Teatro Tivoli, Barcelona, Spain
- 08 May 1996 at Palacio De Congresos Y Exposiciones, Madrid, Spain
- 16 Sep 1996 at Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, PA
- 18 Sep 1996 at Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, CT
- 19 Sep 1996 at Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI
- 24 Sep 1996 at James W. Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo, MI
- 25 Sep 1996 at E. J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, Akron, OH
- 26 Sep 1996 at Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI
- 01 Oct 1996 at Braden Auditorium, Normal, IL
- 02 Oct 1996 at Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI
- 03 Oct 1996 at Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN
- 15 Oct 1996 at Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, UT
- 16 Oct 1996 at Paramount Theatre, Denver, CO
- 17 Oct 1996 at Paramount Theatre, Denver, CO
- 19 Oct 1996 at Kiva Auditorium, Albuquerque, NM
- 21 Oct 1996 at Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, Tempe, AZ
- 22 Oct 1996 at Civic Theatre, San Diego, CA
- 23 Oct 1996 at William Saroyan Theatre, Fresno, CA
- 25 Oct 1996 at Arlington Theater, Santa Barbara, CA
- 26 Oct 1996 at The Event Center Arena, San Jose, CA
- 28 Oct 1996 at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR
- 29 Oct 1996 at Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA
- 12 Nov 1996 at Shea's Performing Arts Center, Buffalo, NY
- 13 Nov 1996 at Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, NY
- 14 Nov 1996 at Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell, MA
- 19 Nov 1996 at Ellis Auditorium, Memphis, TN
- 20 Nov 1996 at The Louisville Palace, Louisville, KY
- 21 Nov 1996 at Murat Theatre, Indianapolis, IN
- 02 Dec 1996 at Sunrise Musical Theatre, Sunrise, FL
- 05 Dec 1996 at Township Auditorium, Columbia, SC
- 06 Dec 1996 at Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Concert Hall, Birmingham, AL
- 10 Dec 1996 at Music Hall, Cincinnati, OH
- 11 Dec 1996 at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, OH
- 12 Dec 1996 at Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
- 14 Dec 1996 at Ovens Auditorium, Charlotte, NC
- 27 Jan 1997 at International Forum, Tokyo, Japan
- 29 Jan 1997 at International Forum, Tokyo, Japan
- 30 Jan 1997 at International Forum, Tokyo, Japan
- 31 Jan 1997 at International Forum, Tokyo, Japan
- 04 Feb 1997 at QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, Australia
- 05 Feb 1997 at QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, Australia
- 07 Feb 1997 at Capitol Theatre, Sydney, Australia
- 08 Feb 1997 at Capitol Theatre, Sydney, Australia
- 10 Feb 1997 at Capitol Theatre, Sydney, Australia
- 11 Feb 1997 at Capitol Theatre, Sydney, Australia
- 12 Feb 1997 at Capitol Theatre, Sydney, Australia
- 15 Feb 1997 at Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
- 16 Feb 1997 at Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
- 17 Feb 1997 at Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
- 06 May 1997 at Austria Center Vienna, Vienna, Austria
- 07 May 1997 at Austria Center Vienna, Vienna, Austria
- 09 May 1997 at Sala Kongresowa, Warsaw, Poland
- 10 May 1997 at Sala Kongresowa, Warsaw, Poland
- 12 May 1997 at Congress Centre, Prague, Czech Republic
- 15 May 1997 at Auditorium Maurice Ravel, Lyon, France
- 16 May 1997 at Le Corum, Montpellier, France
- 18 May 1997 at Acropolis, Nice, France
- 19 May 1997 at Zénith Oméga, Toulon, France
- 21 May 1997 at Teatro Verdi, Florence, Italy
- 22 May 1997 at Teatro Augusteo, Naples, Italy
- 25 May 1997 at Palais Des Congrés De Paris, Paris, France
- 26 May 1997 at Palais Des Congrés De Paris, Paris, France
In preparation for the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour, DRY LIGHTNING is known to have been practiced during at least one of the private rehearsals that took place in March and April 2005 in Asbury Park prior to the tour's first leg.
- 10 Mar 2005 at Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ (private rehearsal)
DRY LIGHTNING was performed once during the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour (72 dates, April to November 2005). See the live 14 May 2005 version.
A few artists have recorded and released Bruce Springsteen's DRY LIGHTNING.
Michael Martin Murphey -- Heartland Cowboy: Cowboy Songs Vol. 5
CD - no label (no catalog number) - USA, 2006
The song was also released in 2006 on Michael Martin Murphey's Cowboy Songs 1-5, a 6-CD set containing all five volumes of the above release in addition to a bonus CD, and on Heartland Cowboy: Cowboy Songs Vol. 5, Anniversary Version, a 2007 reissue with bonus tracks.
Michael Hill -- Outlying Towns
Digital album - no label (no catalog number) - USA, 2008
This is a download-only digital album.
Lorenzo Bertocchini -- Hearts Of Stone: Some Bruce Springsteen Songs
CD - no label (GOMB 16) - Italy, 2009
This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album.
Brian MacDonald -- Dry Lighting
Digital single - Friday/Jarrard Records (no catalog number) - USA, 2011
This is a download-only digital 2-track single.
Various artists -- I Hear You're From Australia - My Name's Bruce Too
2xCD - Laughing Outlaw (LOR160CD) - Australia, 2013
This is a Bruce Springsteen tribute album. DRY LIGHTNING is performed by James Thomson.
Willie Nelson -- To All the Girls...
CD - Legacy (88765425862) - USA, 2013
2xLP - Legacy (88883759731) - USA, 2013
DRY LIGHTNING is performed as a duet with Emmylou Harris. See Willie Nelson's cover version
for more details.
Some of the above info about the studio recording and the live performances is taken from Brucebase.
If you have any additional info about the 1993 home demo tape, or is you have any additions, comments, or corrections to this page, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.
List of available versions of DRY LIGHTNING on this website:
DRY LIGHTNING [Album version]
DRY LIGHTNING [Live 19 Apr 1996 version]
DRY LIGHTNING [Live 14 May 2005 version]
DRY LIGHTNING [Willie Nelson's cover version]
Page last updated: 20 Oct 2013